HL Deb 29 July 1985 vol 467 cc72-115

7.2 p.m.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Arts (The Earl of Gowrie) rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 18th July be approved. [30th Report from the Joint Committee.]

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion before the House. I feel the stern eyes of the Chief Whip upon me, and I shall try to set a good example in respect of brevity. I am of course also well aware that the interest focused on this order goes somewhat wider than the issue of the salary of my noble and learned friend. I therefore will also seek to cover the issues raised by the recommendations of the Top Salaries Review Body chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Plowden. However, first I should like to consider briefly the question of this particular order before us.

Two years ago, in 1983, the Government accepted the Top Salaries Review Body's new recommendation that the Lord Chancellor should be paid a little more than the Lord Chief Justice. This was in recognition of his position as the head of the Judiciary. As well as being a member of the Government my noble and learned friend is also the head of the Judiciary. The Government proposed that the Lord Chancellor should be paid £2,000 more than the Lord Chief Justice. This principle was accepted by both Houses of Parliament.

The arrangements set up in 1983 mean that a new order is needed to change the Lord Chancellor's salary whenever the pay of the Lord Chief Justice is changed. The £2,000 differential agreed in 1983 was maintained last year. Indeed it was vigorously supported by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, as Leader of the Opposition. I look forward to a ringing endorsement of Lord Cledwyn's position by the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, tonight.

This year's order therefore provides for the Lord Chancellor to be paid an annual salary of £71,500 from 31st July this year until 28th February 1986; and the annual salary of £77,000 thereafter. The two stages of this recommendation reflect the Government's proposals for a staged award for the Lord Chief Justice. As the House will be aware, my noble and learned friend is not proposing to take his increase in terms of salary, but that does not alter our view that the agreed uprating is wholly right.

The award to the Lord Chief Justice occurs, of course, in the context of the Top Salaries Review Body's wider recommendations for the most senior civil servants, members of the armed forces and the Judiciary. This year, as well as recommending pay levels, the review body also carried out a review of salary structures. It commissioned the firm of Hay-MSL, management consultants, to report on the pay of senior civil servants and of members of the armed forces. The Office of Manpower Economics carried out on the review body's behalf a survey of earnings at the Bar and of private sector jobs with levels of responsibility roughly equivalent to those of senior civil servants and members of the armed forces.

The review body reached its conclusions on the basis of this objective professional advice, on the basis of the evidence that it collected on issues concerning recruitment, retention and morale, and I think on the need to be able to offer a reasonable career structure, in terns of salary, so as to achieve an adequate supply of people of the right quality to fill the top posts in the public service. It recommended a widening of differentials between the senior members of these groups and it recommended substantial salary increases for some.

But I must remind the House that these recommendations still leave the levels of pay very well below the salary levels of people with roughly comparable responsibilities in the private sector. And some of your Lordships may also have read in last Friday's Daily Telegraph that the public servants have suffered a dramatic real cut in salary over the past 50 years, ranging from 50 to 200 per cent., depending on the job. This over a period of time when the country as a whole has become substantially better off.

The new salary structures and levels recommended by the review body would increase the pay bill in a full year by 12.2 per cent. for senior civil servants, 17.6 per cent. for senior members of the armed forces, and 16.3 per cent. for the Judiciary; and that is an overall increase, taking the three groups, of some 15 per cent.

The Government accept fully the view of the review body that it is most important that the public service in this country should offer a career pay structure which will attract and retain people of the high quality which the service requires. We have also taken note of the review body's warning that in the medium term there is a serious risk of losing a number of our best public servants. Paragraph 47 of its report indicates its fears on this.

The Government therefore agree to the review body recommendations in principle. But we have ail along been aware that there is no easy way of awarding increases, particularly substantial increases, of the kind recommended, to top earners in the public sector. We therefore concluded that the implementation of the increases should be phased within the next year. Most of those concerned will receive only half the recommended increase, subject to a minimum of 5 per cent., from 1st July, and the balance from 1st March 1986.

It is therefore untrue that we have been insensitive on this issue. Our refusal to carry out the Top Salaries Review Body's most earnest recommendations in full is an indication of this. However, to disregard the evidence, the conclusions and the recommendations of the Top Salaries Review Body report altogether surely cannot be right. There can be no point whatsoever in maintaining review bodies of this kind if their objective recommendations are persistently and consistently ignored.

Noble Lords will also have heard, as I am sure we shall hear further this evening, the argument that this is not the time for such an increase. As I have said, no time is really suitable. We have been criticised, not least by our own supporters, and it may indeed be that we ourselves should have spent more time preparing our announcement. Yet previous Administrations have not baulked at awarding much larger increases, notably one of no less than 35 per cent. under the previous Labour Administration in 1978, the present increase being far more modest, as I have said, averaging some 15 per cent.

So, while I hear these criticisms about presentation from our own supporters, I must say that I find them wholly bogus when they come from the Opposition. The Opposition has not been slow in criticising the Government on grounds of morale in the public service and, as well as accepting these recommendations, my right honourable friend the Chancellor, for instance, has said in terms that he wants to make progress on wider and longer-term pay agreements for all grades of the Civil Service following the Megaw Report.

Some comparisons have been made in respect of the difficulties going on in respect of teacher's pay. On this, I should like to make two quick points. First, we have undertaken to make more resources available for teachers so long as an acceptable agreement can be reached on their duties and on their career structures. There seems, unfortunately, now to be little prospect of reaching such an agreement to be implemented and financed this year. But following this, and secondly, if an acceptable agreement can be reached by October of this year we will still make the additional resources available for 1986–87. The Top Salaries Review Body recommendations have looked at recruitment and performance issues. The teachers are still, I am sorry to say, refusing to do so.

Another comparison which has been drawn in respect of this review report is with the treatment of doctors and nurses. Here I would remind your Lordships that we acted in response to other review body reports. We have fully implemented the recommendations of the doctors and dentists' review body. We are staging the increases recommended by the review body for nursing staff, and they will receive the balance of their recommended pay awards on 1st February, 1986. We also accepted the recommendations of both these review bodies for new salary structure and levels precisely as we now have in respect of the recommendations of the Top Salaries Review Body.

We must recruit and retain people of quality to fill these posts. The existing office holders are of the highest quality, as I am sure all your Lordships will bear witness; but we have to ensure as well the quality of their successors by incentive and example. High responsibilities must be accompanied by adequate rewards. Postponing any decision does not ever make it any easier, and in this case it would simply perpetuate the problems so wisely highlighted by the Top Salaries Review Body themselves. I would only add before I sit down that my noble and learned friend's salary, for his position both within the Government and as head of the Judiciary, is a wholly deserved and appropriate one and this has been agreed by all sides of your Lordships' House. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 18th July be approved. [30th Report from the Joint Committee.]—[The Earl of Gowrie.]

7.15 p.m.

Lord Barnett rose to move, as an amendment to the above Motion, at end to insert: but that this House regrets Her Majety's Government's insensitive implementation of the 22nd Report of the Review Body on Top Salaries (Cmnd. 9525) in the context of their policy towards public services pay generally.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I suppose that in one sense I am a little disappointed that the noble Earl has not accepted the amendment, which is such a reasonable one. However, I should say at once that it is not the convention, as I understand it, to oppose an increase in salary for the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, and it will be noted that I do not so recommend. In any event, the noble and learned Lord the Chancellor is a man for whom I am sure all of us have the utmost regard, admiration and respect; and as we know, and have just heard again, he is not even taking the present salary level.

But of course, as happened in another place, the debate is not on the Lord Chancellor's salary but on the report known as the Plowden Report. Therefore I took the unusual step of reading it; and, judging from some of the criticisms in another place, that did not apply widely. Having read it, I make it quite clear that I am not asking your Lordships to reject it, although, as I trust will be clear from what I hope will be my brief remarks, I do not agree with every word in it.

I propose, if I may, to deal primarily with the Civil Service pay proposals rather than with those for the forces or the Judiciary; and, as I have indicated, I ask your Lordships to regret the Government's insensitivity in the context of their policy to public service pay generally. The case for setting up an independent committee to review top salaries is a very considerable one, with which I personally would not disagree. Certainly I would not propose, having agreed that there should be such an independent review, that one should reject it or amend it substantially today. That is certainly not my argument and not the argument that I wish to deploy. But, equally, one would need to have what might be called a "bunker mentality", an insensitivity if not an imperviousness to outside public opinion, simply to accept and implement substantial increases in top salaries, expecting such decisions to have no impact on the morale of others elsewhere in the public sector at considerable lower levels of salary.

For my part, I have long believed that the salary levels in the public sector, and not least their inflexibility, have created great problems especially for a sensible interchange between public and private sectors, including the professions—something which is managed much better in other deomocratic societies. However, as the Plowden Committee says, in paragraph 67, the salaries in the public services generally are well below those in the private sector; and it goes on to produce figures to attempt to prove just that.

I do not believe that comparisons can easily be made. Indeed, Plowden himself and the committee, in paragraph 65, concede that there is only a limited role for comparisons. The committee says in paragraph 57 that comparisons cannot be used in a mechanistic way. I would go further. If one were to accept simple comparisons, whether international or with the private sector, one could not exclude a comparison with the teachers and others. Indeed, the intensity of sustained pressure and strain in the private sector I personally accept as being considerable on those at executive levels elsewhere to produce good results, to produce profits or to have success rewarded and failure treated in the appropriate way.

I recognise that. But we also have to recognise that there are considerable strains nowadays in the public services as well—and not least among many teachers. We have to recognise all that and recognise at the same time, therefore, that a simple comparison on pay levels is not good enough. Indeed, as I have said, that is the view of the Plowden Committee.

On the other hand, there is an argument that I have heard expressed and read which is on what might be called a high moral plane. It is the argument that the duty and privilege of serving the community should be enough: pay should not be something that enters into it.

So far as the Judiciary is concerned, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor himself, addressing the Common Law Bar Association in London as recently as 3rd July, said: the real crown of a legal career, for the absence of which money alone cannot compensate …".

Those were his words about how he regarded judicial work. He went on to say that judicial work was a privilege, a pleasure and a duty, and was one of the highest forms of public service.

So far as the Civil Service is concerned, there was a letter in The Times on 23rd July which some of your Lordships may have read. It was from Sir William Hayter. He said: Are present-day public servants only there for the money? Do none of them think the job worth doing for itself, provided of course that the pay is adequate to sustain life? I don't believe it. Mrs. Thatcher must be wrong.

I do not often defend the Prime Minister, but I think she is right. It is of course true that money is not everything, although the argument is usually made by those who have enough of it. It is not unimportant to a man, whether he be a young man or an older man, who has a young wife and young children and a career to think of, and who can be at least as happy if not happier and as well motivated in the private sector, to think in terms of the remuneration, and we should not condemn him for so doing.

In my view, Plowden got it right when he said in paragraph 54—and I think it is worth quoting to your Lordships: We must say, with all the qualifications that can be made, that the picture we have formed is a highly disturbing one. Morale in the civil service, if not commitment and motivation, appears to be at an exceptionally low ebb".

He went on: we also find unmistakable signs of a widespread sense of disenchantment and restlessness within the service. As we have indicated, this has not yet translated itself into a retention problem of any great magnitude. The warning signs are there, however, especially in relation to some specialist groups and the more able young civil servants who will be needed to man the senior open structure in future years.

Anybody who has spoken to civil servants recently will confirm that that view is an accurate one. But it has as much to do with the Prime Minister and what has been described as her "praise through gritted teeth" as it has to do with levels of pay. All in all, the real case for Plowden, in my view, is the case for it on the grounds of recruitment and retention: and although Plowden did not find a great deal of evidence, the board did point out in paragraph 48, in quoting the Civil Service Commissioners (and I refer to it now): 'nowadays, a smaller proportion of the most able graduates than in the past regard the civil service as an attractive form of employment'.

If that is true, that is certainly very sad indeed, and it is clearly becoming a very serious problem. It is likely to become even more serious and, in my view, one of the better reasons for accepting the recommendations.

But it cannot stop there. Far from what Plowden says, and indeed from what the noble Earl said, about the need to reward top-salaried posts, the plain fact is that one has to think about the morale of the lower and middle ranks of the Civil Service, too. In my view it would be very foolish of us to assume that the morale of the lower and middle ranks will have been sufficiently raised simply because they can look forward in perhaps 30 or 40 years' time to a substantial increase in their salaries. In my experience most of the young people at good executive levels are not too worried about 30 or 40 years' time: they are very much worried about now, and the immediate few years ahead.

Some have argued—the noble Earl referred to this—and some have argued in another place certainly, that the timing is wrong. In my view that is not the argument. The timing is wrong, but not wrong full stop. It is wrong, as I have said in the amendment, in relation to the Government's total pay policy—or, rather, their non-policy. That is the real problem; because all Governments have to have a policy for pay, if not a pay policy. I do not want to enter into the kind of "yah-boo" politics the noble Earl seems to delight in about what this or that Government did in the past. The plain fact is, as he must know—and it is no use his looking quite so innocent because the noble Earl is not that innocent—that when the last Labour Government increased pay for top salaries it was in the context of a pay policy. It was not a successful one, I willingly concede; but it was an attempt; and the noble Earl attempted to mock both the Alliance and my right honourable friend Roy Hattersley for attempting to suggest that there should be a policy for public sector pay.

I do not think anybody needs to apologise for that because the alternative is what we have now. As the noble Earl knows—and the noble Earl should not mutter like that: he can reply again later—the plain fact is that when this Government came into office they said that their policy was one of free collective bargaining. But in the public sector there is no such thing as free collective bargaining, so the Government have deservedly got into trouble over their public sector policy on pay. On the one hand, they are prepared to find the money to finance top salaries, but for everyone else they bring cash limits into disrepute by using them as a form of public sector pay policy. That is what has been done; that is the noble Earl's policy; and that is why he told us again today that the Top Salaries Review Board's recommendation will be implemented in two stages this year but that the teachers can have something in 1986–87 if they are good about it. That was his policy and that is his policy for public sector pay.

I appreciate that this is not the time to discuss pay policy generally, but I believe it is time to discuss the insensitive way the Government have proposed to implement the report before us, regardless of its consequences at this time on the pay of other public servants. It highlights the lack of a coherent Government policy for pay in the public services. It has led them into their present difficulties, and I believe the least we can do today, as the amendment says, is to regret the Government's insensitive handling of the whole issue. I beg so to move

Moved, as an amendment to the above Motion, at end to insert "but that this House regrets Her Majesty's Government's insensitive implementation of the 22nd Report of the Review Body on Top Salaries (Cmnd. 9525) in the context of their policy towards public services pay generally."—(Lord Barnett.)

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Airedale)

The original Question was that the draft order laid before the House be approved, since when an amendment has been moved in the terms set out on the Order Paper. The Question I therefore now have to put is, That the amendment be agreed to?

7.28 p.m.

Lord Diamond

My Lords, I am rising in support of the amendment and drawing your Lordships' attention to the fact that what we are discussing is a Government order, a Government Motion. We are not discussing everything that lies behind it. We are discussing the exercise by the Government of their political judgment on a whole series of difficult issues. It is for the board itself to make its recommendations on the basis of its narrow remit—a very narrow remit, which deals only with a small top section of the salaried community. It is for them to make their views known. It is for the Government to take those views into account in the wider context of top salaries, middle salaries and lower salaries, in the wider context of their own policy on pay, and the recent applications of that policy and the effect of it on any consequential wage claims, either within the Civil Service or outside it. Above all, they should take into account the social consequences of the exercise of their political judgment.

The Government expressed this very well two years ago, at a time when we had a reference to another event. But two years ago when the Government decided not—I repeat "not"—to implement a TSRB report, the same Minister who moved the Motion recently in the other place said We have still to make our own political judgment about an issue sensitive in its economic and social consequences… I reiterate that we have to make our personal and political judgment on this issue It is redolent with economic implications far greater than the actual sums involved." [Official Report, Commons 19/7/83; col. 271.] That is precisely the present position.

What have the Government decided to do? They have decided, as has been already reported, to implement the recommendations in two stages but within one fiscal year, providing for increases averaging 15 per cent. overall. It is in the exercise of their political judgment in reaching that decision that we on these Benches criticise the Government. I shall leave others to refer to the armed forces' top salaries which, incidentally, rise by the highest percentage of all. But I want to discuss very shortly the Judiciary and the Civil Service top salaries.

So far as the Judiciary is concerned, I am bound to make a comment on this because I first came across this argument 20 years ago, when it was put to me officially that unless we gave a very substantial increase to the judges one would not be able to recruit suitable counsel for the bench. I did not believe it then. I went out and spoke to many friends at the Bar. I received exactly the same answer from every one of them: "Please offer me a judgeship on the present remuneration; I will gladly take it."

But your Lordships do not have to rely on my evidence. There is the evidence of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, who spoke on this matter very recently—and I am delighted that he will speak to us again today. There is also the evidence of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor who spoke on this matter in the early part of this month. He said that in his view this argument was false. That is the view of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor as reported in the Daily Telegraph; and I share that view. So far as the Judiciary is concerned, there are really no grounds—on recruitment or retention or morale—for the enormous increase suggested.

I turn next to the Civil Service. The report says a number things about the Civil Service. One thing that it mentioned which has not come out very clearly is that at present there are more suitable candidates for top jobs than there are vacancies. Of course, there may be anxieties in the future, and it is certainly true that some of the best talent at the lower levels is being attracted to the City. Nobody can blame them for that, having regard to the kind of salaries that are on offer by merchant banks and the others who have the Government to thank for their enormous turnover, and their enormous profits which they are making, which enable them to pay enormous salaries and to attract young people from the Civil Service into their pay. Nobody should be surprised about that.

But the short answer to all that is that we are not discussing lower pay at the moment; we are discussing only the top levels. It is absolutely true, as has already been said, that morale in the Civil Service is lower than it should be. I have reason to be in contact with the Civil Service and know this very well. It is not surprising when one considers the continual denigration and sniping on behalf of the Government which has taken place the whole time. I have not heard a single occasion when, even from the Front Bench opposite, a Minister has risen to defend a civil servant under attack—against all our conventions—by a Member of your Lordships' House, when he knows full well that the civil servant cannot defend himself and relies on his Ministers to do so. I have felt from time to time that I have been a lone voice speaking in this respect.

We know that what is of some importance is pay levels. But what is of overwhelming importance is the interest in the job; the regard in which it is held; the importance of the job, and issues of that kind. Job satisfaction, I suppose, would come first. Every Cabinet Minister knows that very well from first-hand personal experience, because every Cabinet Minister is, and always has been, happy to work with his permanent secretary, to give his permanent secretary the orders, to accept responsibility for the department, to get the "sack" if everything goes wrong (not the permanent secretary, but the Minister) and of course the permanent secretary always has been paid a good deal more than the Minister. But the Minister is satisfied that that situation should continue because of the absorbing interest in the job. That is far more important in terms of the question of morale than the salary itself. I am looking at the Bishop's Bench. Indeed, if morale depended on the level of salaries alone, the level of morale on those Benches would be extremely low.

The Government have therefore been quite free to exercise their political judgment and it is that which we are criticising. Consider, my Lords, what they have done. They have driven a coach and horses through their own policy of 3 per cent. or thereabouts, and so made the position of their loyal Tory supporters, especially in another place, virtually intolerable. All your Lordships sitting on the other side who have been in the other House will know the problems facing a Member of Parliament in his own constituency when he has to support the difficult policies of the party of the Government of the day to which he belongs.

Latterly every Tory Member of Parliament will have received delegations from teachers, from worried parents and so on. All the time he will have to explain that the Government's policy is right; that we should go for low increases; that it will work out in the long run, and so on. Then the Government come along and drive a coach and horses straight through everything and cut the ground from under his very feet. This has made immensely more difficult any prospect of settling the teachers' dispute which is causing disruption not only at schools but in the home as well.

The Government have turned a blind eye to the repercussive effects on other levels in the Civil Service and elsewhere. At the same time that they have removed the protection of wages council from those who receive the least pay, with a view to allowing that level of pay to fall even lower, they have decided to give large, absolute, increases to those at the very top. At the same time as they are proposing to end earnings-related pensions for the many on the ground that the economy could not possibly support, in due course, the burden of all these pensions, they are substantially increasing the earnings-related indexed pensions for the few. We must not forget that every salary increase brings with it a pensions increase, whether or not that salary is taken.

In short, in our view on these Benches, the Government have acted in a way which every right-minded person will condemn as grossly unfair and wholly irresponsible and, by giving large benefits to those in least need, will exacerbate even further the divisions in our society. Your Lordships will bear witness, I am sure, to what I myself have found: that the most regular comment made in recent days about this issue is that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor.

We cannot vote against the original Motion, but it is wholly proper in the terms of our conventions to vote for the amendment. The Government in that way will get their order, plus the criticism that they richly deserve. Condemnation has been universal and the amendment is indeed in very moderate terms compared with the withering comments of the first leader of The Times recently. I hope that this amendment will get support from all sides.

7.40 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

My Lords, I am rather surprised to be called so early, because I put my name down rather late and I had hoped to hear what other noble Lords were going to say before I spoke. However, I begin with the difficulty of being a Bishop, as has already been said, and the fact that, as a correspondent in The Times said 10 days ago—so it has been bruited abroad for any who cares to read it—Church of England diocesan Bishops earn £13,070. I had forgotten about the £70.

We on these Benches tend to think of that as rather a lot of money. It is nearly twice what an incumbent receives and I, for one, feel rather uneasy about how large that differential is from the men in the front line; though of course to a mediaeval Prince Bishop it would have been an absurdly small differential. But small or large as the differential and the total sums involved may be, they are of course chickenfeed to the sums that we are talking about; in particular of course to the six-figure sums earned in the private sector to which these new Plowden recommendations are attempting rather more to relate.

Of course, it may be said that because of the size of Bishops' stipends there is an element of jealousy about my speaking on this subject; I hope that I am not jealous about this. Actually I do not quite know how I would manage with a very large income, though my wife says that she would be quite happy. I think there is also an element of naivety about it. We on these Benches are naïve on these matters. I can appreciate that.

But the first point that I want to make is that I do not believe—this has already been referred to, but it needs to be repeated, because it has been very widely said in the country—that these three groups of people embarked on their careers to make money. There are other places where people go to make money. They embarked on their careers to be servants. Of course the field-marshal's baton might be in that knapsack, but basically they wanted to be servants of the Crown—that is, the armed services, the Judiciary and indeed civil servants. They are civil, I emphasise, servants; they include, we must remember, doctors and dentists. As we know now since the war, if a young man wants to make money he does not go into any of these three callings. What about when a young man gets older? Obviously, here the Plowden recommendations are very relevant. Are good men being lost because of the call of the private sector? The review body's recommendations imply that it thinks this is so. I realise what a very complex question this is, and the review body has obviously gone into it very carefully.

On the other hand, I purposely spoke to representatives of these three groups of people in the last two days, because of this debate. Their answers were astonishingly similar. The men concerned were a 48-year old general, a 55-year old judge and a 47-year old assistant secretary; and I summarise their comments, because they could not be looked at in isolation as they said such similar things. First, "It is, of course, a lovely bonus out of the blue". That was very human of them. Secondly, "It is extremely embarrassing, because no one can pretend we are poor". Thirdly, "We would have been perfectly happy with 6 or 7 per cent". "After all", said the general to me, "that is the best part of £3,000 at my grade". Fourthly, "Dreadful timing".

Of course I understand the comment of the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, that no timing is the right timing. But there is this enormous unease in the country at the particular time that has been chosen, not least on the eve of the holidays. Incidentally, all three men to whom I talked are staunch supporters of the Conservative Party.

I believe that it would be a very real sign of greatness for the Government, even at this stage, to think again, and to spread out the increase in such a way that there would probably still be a better differential—I can see that this is perhaps necessary—but that it does not happen so quickly. I feel that the restraint that is being called for again and again by the Government—and how right it is that they should call for restraint—has been thrown to the winds, that the value of good example has gone, and that the opportunity has been missed to say, "This is the recommendation of the report, but we do not believe that we ought to do it in this kind of way". I appreciate that there have been some reductions, but they ought to have been seen to be greater.

I expect your Lordships noticed what Bob Geldof—rich man that he is; a person on many people's lips since the Live Aid concert—said when asked why he was doing all this from his Rolls-Royce world. He just put his head down in that shy way of his and said, "Shame". I feel that there is a widespread sense of shame at the present decision of the Government, and I urge people in this House, my friends and other noble Lords, at the very least to support the amendment, so that many thousands of ordinary people up and down this land can say, "That was a good taste to leave in the mouth before the Recess. This was the human way of dealing with this problem, when none of these three categories of people is crying out for more money".

7.48 p.m.

Viscount Eccles

My Lords, as your Lordships have anticipated, I rise to oppose the amendment. If it is right to raise top salaries, it is right to do it now. In my long life in this House and in another place, how often have I seen wise decisions put off for political reasons, opportunities lost and by delay and dither great damage done to the public interest. I think it right to accept the review body's recommendation, because exceptional talent is very unequally distributed.

I know that the party opposite do not like that fact of life. They would like to undo nature's work—no streaming in the schools, swingeing taxation on the rich and the abolition of your Lordships' House. But experience has shown me that levelling down pays very poor dividends. Even the Russians have found that out. Every year they pay their experts more in comparison with their workers. The world over, men and women with exceptional talents are becoming in shorter supply. That must be so because knowledge and skills become more and more specialised and complicated.

It does not matter where you look, whether it is at tennis players, doctors, foreign exchange dealers. All the top performers are commanding larger salaries; and, incidentially, most of those salaries are internationally rated. That is a movement which no Government can reverse. If for the good and human reasons which the right reverend Prelate has just given us, you say, "We won't do it", the consequences very soon catch up with you. Of course it excites envy, and those who feel this kind of envy often disguise their jealousy by exhorting us to work for love, not for money. I hope I shall always be on the side of the angels. The trouble is that there are precious few angels. Most men work for money, looking over their shoulders to see if anyone in a similar job is getting more than they are. That is the stock-in-trade of the trade union movement. If comparability is right for wage earners, it must be right for top managers too.

This matter is urgent. We have left it very late to introduce an effective modern salary structure for the public services. The number of civil servants has contracted, and that means that for top posts there are still a lot of people anxious to get the jobs that are going—not so many as there were—but it is the younger ones and the expert ones whom we have to think about. The review body argues convincingly for such a structure, and so does Sir Keith Joseph in his negotiations with the teachers. Sensible teachers welcome higher pay for outstanding merit; but not of course the Opposition or the unions. They have always campaigned for equal pay for unequal work. What a handicap that has been to all our policies for expansion.

A new salary scale for top people in the public services is urgent, and so it is for the teachers. To put if off for political reasons, however inconvenient the moment—and I recognise that—would be cowardly and wrong. Every one of your Lordships knows that men and women of exceptional talent can only grow scarcer and scarcer. Therefore, let us do what we can as soon as we can to put that matter right. I hope that my noble friends will all vote against this amendment.

7.52 p.m.

Lord Bancroft

My Lords, I rise with some diffidence and a heavy cold. My diffidence is because of my Whitehall past and I shall be brief because my audibility is in question. I want to make three points. Let me preface them by saying that I am in no way a beneficiary of the Review Body's report.

My first point is about presentation. I am critical—in some ways very critical—of this Government's attitude towards the public service, particularly the non-uniformed public service. Too many Ministers have given the impression that those who staff it are second raters doing a trivial and second rate job. So they have resolutely stoked the predictable fires of resentment and envy when just such a report as this comes out: a report which says explicitly in paragraph 12 that, although fundamental differences remain between life in the public service and in the private sector, there is a growing convergence in management terms between the requirements placed on senior civil servants and senior executives elsewhere". So in the past few days we have seen needlessly zealous criticism from a number of quarters. In this connection, I must refer especially to the organ of the press which used to thunder in its leading articles but can now manage only a peevish eructation—and that is on its better days.

On this occasion, however, I should be less than fair not to congratulate the Government on their boldness in accepting most of the report's recommendations. This I do unreservedly and in full measure. Even so, I believe that the Government's decision on this extremely closely argued and thoughtful report could have been presented better: if only to stress, for example, the final "net of tax" rewards. For public servants, I remind your Lordships, their colleagues in the Inland Revenue operate PAYE with the smooth relentlessness of the basilisk. There are no little nooks or crannies.

Of course the timing was wrong. As has been conceded already, it always is. And I will tell your Lordships why. It is because successive Governments since the war, whatever the incomes policy or absence of incomes policy of the day, have constantly sought one Holy Grail; that is, compliance by example. It deserves all the solemn emphasis of capitals. So they have held back public service pay to set an example to the rest of the community, and it has never worked. Thus, in the mild words of paragraph 44 of the report, it can only serve to compound 'catching up' problems". In less mild words, there is a galvanic explosion once or twice every decade, when need, desperation and a touch of courage are exceptionally combined in the Government of the day. And, my Lords, make no mistake about it, sooner or later the same is bound to happen lower down in all the public services. At the bitter end of the day the market will see to that. But long before then I hope that pay determination systems of some kind will be in place.

My second point is about the merits of the report itself. As I have already said, it seems to me—and I speak respectfully—to reflect enormous credit on its authors. So far as the Civil Service is concerned, the review body undertook a major review—the first for a number of years. This has resulted in what they themselves describe as "radically new arrangements". These were explicity not made in an "economic vacuum". The members of the review body, if one looks at the list, are not innocents abroad. This is a field where there are no certainties, only anxieties. Nonetheless, I doubt whether many people in their senses would quarrel with the report's methodology. You can pluck figures from the air, intuitively and blindly; you can obediently comply with a cash limit laid down by the Treasury and its Ministers, some of whom would have great difficulty in managing a system for the pay of an organ grinder's monkey, who your Lordships will remember, gets peanuts; or you can hark back to historic pay levels which would land you in deep and very expensive trouble. Or you can do what the review body has done; that is, undertake a professional study in depth, using comparators, consultants and, most of all, based on those two, judgment, aiming off at the end of the day—and quite rightly—with a very hefty discount.

The review body looked at a wide range of evidence and factors. I quote from paragraph 140: We have looked at a wide range of evidence: on recruitment and retention; on morale and motivation; on external comparisons; on differentials; and on economic factors". We have aimed to set salary levels that in our opinion are adequate, no more and no less". The report goes on to say, the range of posts with which we have to deal includes, by any reasonable standard, some of the most onerous in the country". In essence—I do beg your Lordships to believe me when I say that this cannot be emphasised too much—the review body has pulled out the concertina or, in the jargon, it has remedied the compression of differentials. This is given room and flexibility for merit to be rewarded.

I ask your Lordships to remember that the senior ranks of the Civil Service have been reduced, and almost certainly rightly reduced, by some 20 per cent. over the last six years. So it is proper and necessary that to some extent highly efficient people now have to look for their rewards of esteem and money not by promotion but in their existing grade.

My third point is very brief. I am old-fashioned—perhaps very old-fashioned—in my view of the public services across their whole range. I would be alarmed if I thought that this report of itself was ushering in a new mercenary age, even if the word "mercenary" is used in the best and ironic sense of Houseman's Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries. As the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, stressed, and as the report recognises in paragraphs 54 and 55, Morale in the civil service … appears to be at an exceptionally low ebb. The reasons for this state of affairs are no doubt complex. It would be facile to attribute them simply to problems of pay". Let us not throw the collegiate mantle of the public service carelessly aside. Once gone, the mantle will not easily be retrieved. I do not believe that the report's recommendations do that, but I do believe that they go quite far enough for the foreseeable future.

Lastly, I pay tribute to my former colleagues at all levels for their steadfastness and efficiency under fire. I respectfully repeat to them and to the House my own words, that civil servants, must neither sit on their backsides wingeing with self-pity nor rush to the barricades in their own self-interest. To do so violates the whole ideal of public service. They must be efficient, articulate, unleaky, good at public relations and slow to anger. Above all, they must remember that they are there to serve". I support the review body's report, which is a model of a pay determination system for the levels with which it deals. Other systems not too unlike it are needed for the other levels of the public service. Whatever the systems they should be underpinned, as the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, suggested in an earlier debate, by a renunciation of the strike weapon in exchange for binding arbitration—itself subject to a parliamentary override.

Despite the supple ingenuity of the wording of the amendment, my support for the review body's report extends on this occasion to the Government also.

8.2 p.m.

Lord Shackleton

My Lords, I cannot hope to emulate the skill and elegance of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Bancroft, nor open my remarks with a zeugma or oxymoron (I cannot remember which)—but since the noble Lord was head of the Civil Service and I served with him when I was the Minister responsible, I must say that he produced the kind of speech of eloquence and conviction that I would have expected from him.

I should first like to comment that I welcome and support the Plowden Report. I admire the courage of the Prime Minister in implementing it, despite the barrage of misguided press comment and what I could almost call the hysteria of some Tory Members of Parliament on seeing their constituents being at odds with them. Having made those complimentary remarks, I shall not have a further complimentary remark to make about the Government.

I agree very much with the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, in his analysis of the situation. For noble Lords who want to consider in detail what the issues are, I recommend that they read the report produced by some brilliant and fair-minded men such as the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, Sir David Orr, and my noble friend Lord Lever. That report was the natural consequence of the Megaw Report, which I believe your Lordships, including the right reverend Prelate, should also read.

The Megaw Report dates where the trouble started; the breach of practice by Government in dealings over the damaging 1981 pay dispute, when the Government, out of sheer obstinacy, refused to arrive at a reasonable agreement in an argument that was all about one half of 1 per cent. The Government therefore abolished the Civil Service Department and with it the noble Lord, Lord Soames. As we know, the noble Lord personally was not abolished but his ministerial role was destroyed.

That was a failure of the Government—and previous Governments have not been free from blame—in regard to the breach of agreements with the public service unions. But there has been nothing equal to the violence of the action taken by this Government. I would like to draw the attention of the House, as other noble Lords have done, to the observation made in the Plowden Report that civil servants are almost inclined to think that they are regarded as parasitic. Any Minister who has had to deal with public servants will know how high-minded and devoted most of them are, and what marvellous service they give to Ministers.

I seek to intervene very briefly, not only because I have had some responsibility for them as the first Minister of the Civil Service Department but also as a pay fixer in industry. I have operated at a salary which I will not go into, but having missed out on every pension and salary in the past, and having been an impoverished Member of Parliament, I must say that I thought it was an amusing figure but one that was still acceptable to me personally and to my wife.

It is fundamental that what is proposed in this report is recognised as being not the ultimate but a compromise. The suggestions and proposals which are argued so forcefully by Plowden make clear that the committee thinks that the figures given are the least that should be paid. Their comparisons with industry if anything understate what the nature of the proposals are. The report gives a median figure for chief executives of companies with turnovers of more than £1,150 million as £100,000 a year. They give the upper quartile as £130,000. We know that the figures of top chairmen and chief executives in industry may be more than £200,000 a year. What is now proposed for top civil servants is only one-third of what some people are being paid—not all of them employed by big companies.

I should like to ask noble Lords, and particularly the right reverend Prelate, to consider what they think is the right figure. That is the difficult question to decide. Should the payment be the same as that of Members of Parliament? They have not done badly. In fact they have done rather better than when the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, and I were both in the Commons. Incidentally, I for one should like to see the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor receive his increase, even if he chooses not to take it, since he was one of the few Members of Parliament in those days who advocated a decent salary to be paid to Members of Parliament. Those Members who now criticise his increase might bear that in mind.

What is the right figure? Is it one-third of the top rates in industry? It is true that many people go into the public service because they feel a commitment to serve. There are advantages. They deal with people many of whom are of high intellect and high integrity. However, what is a young man to do if he is given the opportunity, if he has a wife and family, to move higher up the financial scale? That is an awkward dilemma. Many people feel that they have an obligation to their families not just because—and this is part of the dilemma—they want lots of money, but because they want to do the best by their family and use the qualities they have been given.

If we lived in a socialist world, or even in a world motivated by Christianity, we could consider this whole issue in a different way; but we live—and I say this to my noble friends—in a world that is a capitalist world and an international capitalist world. It is vital that we should face this issue. Of course, the reduction in taxation rates for the top earners introduced by this Government was a mistake, and certainly that ought to be dealt with. There should be higher taxation.

I should like to see the Government show a greater tenderness towards public servants. The Government are inclining now to use every opportunity to praise them, but great damage has been done by the past actions of the present Government. For that reason I support the amendment.

8.10 p.m.

Lord Denning

My Lords, may I first say a word about the Judiciary? In 1979 many of the judges were aggrieved. The younger judges were disappointed. They could not provide properly for the education of their children, their holidays, and the like. They did not threaten to resign, but there was a sense of grievance throughout the Judiciary at that time. The Top Salaries Review Body recommended substantial increases, which I am glad to say the Government of that day implemented. The judges were reasonably satisfied, and that was added to when the tax benefits were given early in this Government.

Now what is the position? This is what was said about the Civil Service in the report: It seems to us to be indisputable that the rewards available to senior civil servants are well below those available at senior levels in the private sector". Based on that comparison with the private sector, and saying that there is difficulty in recruitment, or might be, and in retaining civil servants, the Government have proposed for the head of the Civil Service a sum of £75,000 which comes into force next March. From that, right down the scale, from permanent undersecretaries downwards, there are to be corresponding increases. That is the basis of the argument; that the top civil servants should get that increased pay in order to retain them and keep their services.

We then come to the rest of the report, concerning the judges and the armed forces. Let me first deal with the judges. In my experience the judges today do not feel that they are underpaid. If asked about an increase I feel that they would say, "We ought not to have more than the teachers. It looks altogether wrong for the judges to have a 15 per cent. or 16 per cent. increase when the teachers are getting only 5 per cent". That is the public reaction, and I am sure that it would be the reaction of many of our judges because they are, your Lordships must remember, reasonably well paid.

In my opinion there is no difficulty about recruitment. Any top barrister, even at the highest level and even quite recently, if invited to be a judge would accept because of the honour, the integrity, the public service and the independence which that post entails. There is no difficulty about recruitment for the higher Judiciary; nor indeed for the circuit judges. There are now more circuit judges and not enough barristers to fill the places, but there it is. The argument about recruitment and retention does not apply to the Judiciary.

Equally, I believe that it does not apply to our Admirals of the Fleet, and so on. The real reason behind their increases is that if the head of the Civil Service gets £75,000 surely the Lord Chief Justice of England ought to get it. The answer is, yes, and surely the Admiral of the Fleet and the Field-Marshals should also get the same, and not less than, the head of the Civil Service. I agree. Once the Government start with the head of the Civil Service getting £75,000, the whole thing goes on. The other two sectors are put forward and all the people down the line have increases, too. That is the inevitable consequence of the recommendation of the Top Salaries Review Body to increase the salaries for top civil servants.

I am not saying that the report is wrong. That body was only comparing those three sectors between themselves and not with the rest of the population. The Government ought not to look just at those three sectors. I should say, of course, that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor received his extra £2,000 because he must go above the Lord Chief Justice. That is all very well, but the Government ought not to look simply at those three sectors. The Government should look at this matter in regard to the population as a whole.

Some of my family are in the teaching profession. Just think what their salaries are! The teaching profession has men of the highest calibre and intelligence—equal in intelligence to the top civil servants, and the like; but what do they get? What do the people of this country think about that? What about my friends among the Bishops? They ought to get more, but will not. But they deserve it on the basis used by the Government. The trouble with the Government in implementing this recommendation is that they ought to have looked at the country as a whole and what the people of this country think and wish. As I said, if the judges were asked they would say, "We ought not have more than the teachers, who get only 5 per cent. We ought not to have more than them. That is not right. The Government ought to have regard to all the teachers".

That is why I support the amendment. To implement the recommendation of the Top Salaries Review Body at this time and in this way is insensitive to the demands and expectations of the rest of the community. The Government should consider the whole of the country. In doing more than justice to top civil servants they are doing less than justice to the rest of our people. I support the amendment.

8.17 p.m.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, in asking your Lordships to vote against the amendment I begin by expressing a regret, which I am sure is widely shared in this House, that we are not to have the benefit of the views of the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, himself, although I can understand why he might not wish to intervene in a debate of this kind.

His absence, if I may say so, has to some extent been made up for by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Bancroft, because so far he has been the only speaker who has looked as a whole at the report we are discussing and which the Government are implementing. It is true that the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, claimed credit for having read it, but his use of it was somewhat selective. The report begins—and this is a very important point—by recognising that the Civil Service as a whole is in the process of rapid change in the nature of its work and in the obligations which it now has to undertake—what is usually called the transfer to a more managerial outlook—and this has to be taken into account when one considers its remuneration, both at the levels we are discussing today and lower down.

It will also have been noted that all this business about taking into account the economic situation as a whole, the difficulty and the sensitivity about the public response, was considered, weighed and dealt with in the report itself. It is the report which says that Government will always be tempted not to act on recommendations of this kind and that it is desirable that Government should resist this temptation.

It has been said in the course of this debate—and I wish to confine myself to the Civil Service—that such anxieties as there are do not relate to the current holders of top posts or to those who are likely to succeed them and who would also be beneficiaries of this report, but to those who are lower down. The anxieties about both retention and recruitment are lower down in the Civil Service. However, I remind noble Lords—and, again, this is in the report—that this is not intended as a final determination of the method by which Civil Service salaries in general should be determined. As we know, consideration is being given to a new set of arrangements which will no doubt incorporate some form of independent evaluation, if it is not precisely in the form which once existed. Therefore, civil servants, not those covered by this report but those who hope to attain to the ranks that are covered by it, are being asked to rely in the future on the fact that their remuneration will be properly set by comparisons with the outside world, by the needs of recruitment and by the demands of efficiency.

How do we encourage them to believe this promise if the first thing that the Government do when they deal with their seniors is to reject a report which carries the weight and the authority of this one? To reject the recommendations of the report will surely be to damage the confidence of the public service in general, and not to enhance that confidence.

It is also said that other groups in the population whose remuneration eventually comes from the public purse might be excited by it so as to feel that they were even more hard done by than they already believe they are, and in this regard particular reference was made by the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, for instance, to the teachers. However, I would point out that he was unfair to my noble friend Lord Gowrie in at least one respect. The reason why the remuneration of the teachers can now only be considered for a year hence is because of the obstacles which the unions offered to a settlement this year on the terms which had been available, in which it was proposed that money would be found for a greater increase if they would agree to consider career structure and duties. The only reason why it cannot come this year is because that agreement has not so far been reached. So even in this respect it seems to me that the argument regarding the teachers tends to fall to the ground.

The speech which may possibly most have moved noble Lords to consider voting for this amendment may have been the speech of the right reverend Prelate, who seems to have discovered feelings of shame or possible shame and embarrassment among prospective beneficiaries. It is nice to know that people are public spirited enough to worry about this kind of thing; but that does not necessarily mean that their views should be taken into account if there are other considerations to balance them.

Furthermore, a great deal of fuss, bother and commotion about this award, which has led to the appearance of this amendment on our Order Paper, have come from honourable Members in another place. I fear that they must be devoid of the sense of shame to which the right reverend Prelate refers, since they are the only people in the country who, without either pay determination or collective bargaining, fix their own remuneration and have insisted upon massive increases in both that remuneration and the perquisites which they enjoy; and they now feel able to denounce them when other public servants are offered what an independent body believes is necessary. One might add that the problems of recruitment and retention of people hardly arise in respect of membership of the House of Commons, as any noble Lords who have contact with their Party headquarters will be delighted to confirm.

I suggest that this amendment is ill taken, and that, having accepted the idea of a Top Salaries Review Body and having observed the way in which they have gone around seeking information—and in spite of what has been said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, they have taken evidence on the position in respect of the Judiciary as well as of the armed services—it is our duty to accept that this is the mechanism that we have and that whatever its possible electoral repercussions, it is the business of any Government that has self-respect to stand by the machinery which they, like their predecessors, have regarded as appropriate.

8.26 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Manchester

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, has referred to the fuss, bother and commotion that has gone on over this business. I would suggest that this is not simply because it is rather fun discussing other people's salaries but because it points to wider and deeper implications in society. I accept the point which has been made earlier that this is neither the time nor the place to discuss incomes policy in general, but this matter must surely relate to it and to how we organise ourselves in British society at the present time.

I suppose that in a society which was Christian in its deepest sense we should have the kind of determination of wages and salaries which said "from each according to his ability; to each according to his need". Noble Lords may ignore the source of that quotation.

Of course it would be naïve and simplistic to suppose that we could move towards a society of that kind without great difficulty and effort, but I think that to go to the other extreme and simply argue about salaries solely in terms of whether people deserve them or not and to ignore the moral dimension lands us in a very dangerous situation indeed. I have been very glad to hear tonight of people who are worried about the increases which have been afforded to them in the society which we have now, because I think that this gives a sign of hope, and long may it last.

The Prime Minister, speaking in another place, said: There is an understanding that successive governments have accepted, that their recommendations would not be modified unless there were clear and compelling reasons to do so". I believe that there are clear and compelling reasons to modify recommendations such as this one and that they are all around us in British society today. We live in a society in which there are more than 4 million unemployed; it is a society of great poverty, and a society of very low wages for many people. We have been reminded many times tonight of the teachers' dispute, but that is only one of the problems which face us. The argument against implementing these increases in the way it is being done is that it increases social divisiveness.

I read the report—not I must confess in the detail I should have liked to—and I found it clear and compelling in the arguments which it uses. These are arguments about comparability with the private sector and about recruitment and retention in all these three sectors of society which were under review, and my noble friend Lord Diamond has already dealt with this. Surely the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, is right when he says that this was only looking at one part of the picture and that it is the duty of Government to look at the wider picture and see how this affects society as a whole. I believe that this is why people are so deeply disturbed about the way this announcement had been made. Naturally, the review body did not look at fairness, at the effect on other sections of society. That was missing.

I found that one of the most disturbing things that I have heard, although I do not know how much weight to give to it, has been the matter of the leaked reports that there was no real discussion or dissension about this in Cabinet meeting. I found that very disturbing because surely an issue of this kind should have been hotly and fiercely debated because of the impact which it was bound to have and because of the moral issues that it raises.

Tonight there have been many references to high salaries in the private sector of industry and indeed overseas. The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, and the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, have pointed this out and pointed out that we are moving into an international world in which skills have to be marketable internationally. There is another side to this which they did not point out. That is that in a shrinking world the search for equity is also going on and it will go on with increasing intensity in the years ahead. One can also see that on all sides.

If one were simply to take the argument that one looks at the private sector and the high salaries which are paid there, or perhaps to the United States of America, there would be nothing to prevent us going rapidly, as rapidly as possible, in that direction. It has to be balanced by other considerations, too. That is why I believe that when we come to a moment like this and a debate of this kind, we are forced again and again to consider the long-running search for some kind of an incomes policy, and the argument that it has been tried and failed will never do.

When one looks at the discussions on the problems in the public sector, the public service, one sees that on the other side of the coin is what is happening in private industry. Part of the problem really lies there and in the very high salaries which are paid in private industry. If it is the view that Government can in no way influence these, I do not believe it. I think there are ways of influencing the level of salaries which are paid in private industry, too.

I came to the Manchester area during the winter of discontent. I am sure that all of us who went through that have memories indelibly etched in our minds. I believe that it was the then Government's decision to implement the review recommendations in the way that was done then which contributed substantially, though not of course wholly, to the deep bitterness which emerged at that time and the sense of unfairness in a society in which people were being asked to tighten their belts. It is sometimes argued that the man in the street is not influenced by the level of top salaries but simply looks at the man who is the next up the ladder. I do not believe that that is true either, and surveys have constantly disproved this.

This noble Earl the Minister told us that high responsibility must be accompanied by adequate rewards. Well, I agree to some extent but when one looks at other sections in our society—and teachers and nurses have been mentioned—what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. High responsibility and adequate rewards should not be implemented simply at the neglect of such other factors as fairness and an avoidance of social divisiveness in our society.

I believe that this amendment will be a signal that many Members of this House on both sides, belonging to all parties or to no party at all, are conscious of the problems which this whole issue raises in our society at the present time, and I would ask your Lordships to vote for it substantially tonight.

8.33 p.m.

Lord Murray of Epping Forest

My Lords, I want to take up and develop a point made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester, and, if only in deference to a request from the Government Front Bench, to confine myself to one single and simple point. I hope it is a positive point. It is the way in which this report illustrates the need for and the justification of comparability in the process of income determination; the need for fairness and for people to observe a fair relativity between their incomes and those of others, and the justification of Government intervention where necessary in the interests of securing that fairness.

Necessarily I shall have to leave aside in this particular instance the question of the application of the report. However, what the acceptance of the report has made abundantly clear is that the Government themselves accept the principle of comparability. They do not reject the whole idea of comparability. The issue is: where is comparability to apply and how is it to be applied? I welcome very much what the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, said in the sense that he was emphasising that comparability cannot be confined to one group, whether it be wage earners or top salary earners.

What I certainly found distasteful and offensive, as did so many people, and as has been referred to this afternoon, was the way in which, while withdrawing protection from the lowest paid covered by wages councils—in the operation of which comparability is of enormous, indeed, central importance—the Government find it possible to accept the recommendations of the review body, which is no more and no less than the top peoples' wages council. There is reason for public reaction against this. I argue that special arrangements can be justified in both cases—in relation to salaries of senior civil servants, members of the Judiciary and the armed forces, and also in the case of low paid earners themselves.

I accept that we cannot have formal comparability arrangements right across the industrial spectrum. However, there can be and there should be agreement on areas where the machinery for settling wages and salaries and conditions should include comparability and methods of establishing it. It should be possible for us collectively to identify the areas where this is right. Clearly we would all put into those areas policemen, firemen, the National Health Service and other essential services, all to be discussed and agreed. In those cases, as in this one which we are discussing today, the people in the groups concerned ought to be taken out of the situation where the only response they can make is to seek employment elsewhere or to take industrial action to try to secure what they believe is their due.

The central aim of this should be to avoid people being driven into situations where they use the strike weapon in desperation and, as the right reverend Prelate has emphasised, because they feel they are being unfairly treated by the rest of us, by the rest of society. This is totally different from trying to take away, as has been suggested in one quarter, the right to strike. In a free society no Government can take away that right of free men and free women ultimately to say, "I shall not work in conditions and for wages which I have not agreed with my employer". That is to be a hallmark of a free society. Nor indeed would I have had a union purport to bargain that basic right away.

Both the Government and the unions should seek a means of ensuring that working people are not driven by a sense of unfairness to use the strike weapon. As the right reverend Prelate has reminded us, that is precisely what happened in the winter of 1978. with their feelings of frustration, anger and resentment of what they saw as unfair treatment.

Perhaps I may address one comment to my noble friend Lord Barnett. I certainly do not share his view that the pay policy which preceded that appalling winter was unsuccessful. That was a pay policy which reduced the level of inflation from 28 per cent. in the summer of 1975 to little more than 8 per cent. in the summer of 1978. That was not a failure and I believe we have nothing to apologise for on that score. Perhaps my noble friend and I can pursue that matter in discussions in peace and quiet a little later on.

The heart of this report is the recognition that, for some groups, comparability arrangements are the best and indeed the only way of setting their incomes, and the need for fair treatment is not, I submit, confined to admirals, to judges or to senior civil servants.

8.40 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, it is almost inevitable in following the noble Lord, Lord Murray, that your Lordships should be invited to consider the right to strike in the context of the Civil Service, a matter that was touched upon by the noble Lord, Lord Bancroft. With your Lordships' permission, I do not propose to pursue that subject tonight. The Motion is concerned with the Judiciary. It is the reasoned amendment that carries in the question of the Civil Service and the armed forces. As to civil servants, noble Lords have already referred to Paragraph 47 of Volume 1 about the drain from the Civil Service to the City—the outflow, as it is referred to—and to Paragraph 54 about morale being at a low ebb. It is not on the aspect of civil servants or the armed forces that I would wish to speak to your Lordships tonight, but upon the Judiciary, and only in this context to make some sort of contribution. To be fair to the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, he did not address himself to this subject but rather to the Civil Service aspect.

As to the Judiciary, with respect to the right reverend Prelates who have spoken, alas, the Bar, of which I am a member, as my noble friend Lord Eccles was swift to suggest, is not moved by the same divine mission that inspires those who enter Holy Orders, and we provide the material from which the Judiciary is appointed. It is, I know, unfortunate; but it is, I am afraid, a fact of life. Nor do we all at the Bar share exactly the same political sentiments as expressed by the right reverend Prelates tonight, in particular on the basis that teachers and judges should be, so to speak, provided with the same sauce as if they were geese and ganders. However, in all this, although I support the Motion on the Order Paper, which is concerned with the Lord Chancellor's salary, and I oppose the reasoned amendment, in accordance with the traditions of your Lordships' House, I am advised that I have to declare an interest, which I do, as a recorder of the Crown Court. Under the pay structure, one hopes—I do not know whether it is right, but I am advised—that there could be a daily increment for 20 days of each year from which I should benefit.

A noble Lord


Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, the point has been made, but it needs stressing—I am dealing only with the Judiciary and not the other aspects, especially those to which the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, referred—that it is the Lord Chancellor's salary that stands at the apex of this pyramid of the pay structure for the Judiciary. So, if it is requisite to increase the salary in a lower tier, while maintaining the broad differentials, its is inevitable that the Lord Chancellor's salary in terms of maximum entitlement (irrespective of what he takes) should be increased. The lower tier which gives rise for concern—and, my Lords, it does give rise for most serious concern—is, in this context, a circuit judge. If your Lordships would be good enough sometime to look at paragraph 135 of Volume 1 of the report, you will see at once that the report recognises, in terms, that this, provides the starting point for consideration of other judicial salaries". In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, whatever may have been his experiences 20 years ago, and in regard to his references in particular to my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, and, curiously enough, and with the greatest respect, in answer to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, with whom I do presume to cross swords on this issue, I would say this. If you look at paragraph 82 of Volume 2 of the report, you will find that what both have said is totally refuted. Paragraph 82 states. We have considered a great deal of evidence about the appropriate relative position for Circuit Judges. Circuit Judges themselves feel strongly that they should move up in the structure… Our attention has been drawn to the Lord Chancellor's concern about the current shortfall of Circuit Judges". There, in black and white, is what the Lord Chancellor is supposed to have said. The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, says otherwise. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, says otherwise. But the report says that this is what the Lord Chancellor's concern was.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord will forgive me. I understood clearly—the noble and learned Lord will correct me if I am wrong—that what was said was that there are not enough members of the Bar to fill the posts of circuit judge. He did not say that there was a shortage of circuit judges by virtue of the fact that they were not receiving sufficient pay.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, I am grateful, as always, to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon. I think that, on this occasion, when he reads Hansard he will see that I have not misquoted or misunderstood either what the noble and learned Lord said or what the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, said. I was making notes of their speeches. I hope that on this occasion, I shall be right. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, for his most courteous intervention. But the matter does not end there. You have the Lord Chancellor's concern about the current shortfall of circuit judges. Then if you go to paragraph 165 of the same volume, you find this: The Lord Chancellor on the other hand believes that some improvement in the position of the Circuit Judge relative to the High Court Judge is justifiable", and so on and so forth. Then he refers to, current difficulties in the recruitment of Circuit Judges". This is the antithesis. I am sure that if noble Lords read Hansard they will see that this is the antithesis of what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, has been saying and what the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, has been saying. The higher echelons of the Judiciary do not suffer from these difficulties. Those are the findings of the report. It is the circuit bench where the immutable laws of economics have started to have their erosive incidence.

The charge in the reasoned amendment—I want to meet the charge—of want of sensitivity is wholly misplaced. Considerations which affect public service pay generally, such as doctors, nurses, dentists and teachers, have nothing whatever to do with requisite increments to ensure that high standards are maintained throughout the whole of the Judiciary. In this the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, along the lines of comparables is not to the point because he is not comparing like with like. The reasoned amendment chooses to ignore this essential point and affords no viable constructive alternative to the order, an order which warrants your Lordships' support.

I listened to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, with very great care. The whole reasoning of his speech supported the Motion but the noble Lord—and this is his privilege—thinks that the Government have acted in an insensitive fashion in the past and therefore he intends to support the amendment. That is his privilege, but I would suggest that the reasoning of his speech was wholly supportive of the Motion.

Lord Shackleton

My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Lord, I did not use the word "insensitive" as my main point. The treatment of the public service over a number of years has produced the present loss of morale which calls for these pay increases.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord and I take his point. According to the report, there is a loss of morale. I take the point, but that was in the past. If morale has been lost, then we must build it up. I found myself able to accept, as far as I could note it, the whole of the reasoning of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. It is because of something that has happened in the past that the noble Lord intends to support the reasoned amendment.

Lord Shackleton

My Lords, the noble Lord should read the amendment. It says: in the context of their policy towards public services pay generally".

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord, and of course I accept his invitation. It reads: but that this House regrets Her Majesty's Government's insensitive implementation of the 22nd Report of the Review Body on Top Salaries… in the context of their policy towards public services pay generally". With respect to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, I have read it and I had read it before, but I cannot see that it is relevant or makes any sense. What is the use of criticising a requisite action of the Government in order to give effect to a situation which seems to be all but common ground—it is not totally common ground—because something in the past gives one cause for criticism?

When the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, dealt with the matter he did not suggest that the report was wrong, and again took the point that it was insensitive. Does it not come down to the fact that any Administration worth its salt is obliged to take note of the situation and is obliged to introduce this order if we wish to preserve our pride in what we treasure—the system of justice? I am speaking only about the Judiciary. We must be prepared to dip into our pockets if needs must be, and the only appropriate time—and a point has been made on this—in which to implement the recommendations of a report such as this is as soon as possible and when each House of Parliament is in Session.

It is not understood why, on any objective consideration, the Government should have had to run the gauntlet in the other place or indeed in your Lordships' House in the Lobbies tonight. I suppose it is reasonable that the occasion should be used as a sort of political stalking horse for criticism of the Government, to use the words of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, "on the exercise of political judgment". However, as regards the Judiciary's concern, that is of scant relevance to the need to ensure that throughout the whole Judiciary, and in particular throughout the circuit judges, judges of appropriate calibre and qualification be recruited from the Bar.

8.55 p.m.

The Earl of Halsbury

My Lords, I address your Lordships tonight as a member of an endangered species: a review body chairman in retirement. Time has not dealt kindly with some of my old colleagues, and I could only wish that Lord Kindersley and Lord Boyle were here to support what I have to say.

I want to begin by reminding your Lordships of the situation that was established very shortly before the general election of 1970. The Goverment of the day, unwisely in their own interests as it proved, repudiated recommendations of the review body. It was clearly understood that no such action would ever be taken except in the most exceptional circumstances, which did not then in fact prevail.

What followed? Lord Kindersley and the review body resigned en bloc. The system collapsed into a vacuum, populated by mutinous doctors and dentists. The party then in opposition, and now in power, pledged itself that if it was returned it would reinstate the review body, and gave solemn undertakings that it would never again allow a situation to develop in which it did not accept its findings.

That party was returned to power and began to implement its pledges. But then it ran into a snag. The situation was a hot potato, the chair was a hot seat. No one would take on the job. It was at this point that Sir Keith Joseph asked me to go and see him and asked me whether I would be prepared to volunteer for the job. I told him that I was rather dubious about being the right person for it, that my experience in industry had been executive rather than judicial, and that I felt sure he could do better. He agreed that he could, but said that the number one of his choice would not take it. He was quite charmingly frank about it, and we made great friends on that basis. Accordingly, on the basis of trying to be helpful I agreed that I would go ahead and do what I could to restore the situation.

Later on, I suppose, like Jeeves, I gave some satisfaction, because I was put in charge of the nurses and midwives, then the 10 professions supplementary to medicine, and then the speech therapists. At one time, in 1974–75, I had the entire salary structures of the medical professions and the National Health Service under my hands and was enabled to put a more or less rational structure upon the whole thing.

Why do we have review bodies at all? Essentially, they are an assurance that people over-involved emotionally, ethically and loyally with their employers, possessing ethical objections to any kind of strike action and therefore very little industrial muscle, will not be exploited and underpaid through motives of political expediency. That is the basis for the whole thing. A number of remarks that have been made in the course of this debate suggest to me that that is not really understood by those who are involved in the controversies here. As we have been told, it is never the right moment to raise salaries. Expediency always wants to procrastinate. It has been said so many times that it is not the right moment to do this now; that the moment is ill-chosen. Who does the choosing? Is it the Government? No: it is the review body which does the choosing. It alone decides when it will review a particular aspect of the client states over which it presides.

The whole essence of the system is to liberate them from all those considerations of a political character which would take advantage of the fact that it is never the right moment. For the review bodies it is always the right moment. To depart from that by one jot or tittle would raise a hornets' nest around the ears of those who want to see the system modified.

The right reverend Prelate said that surely the review bodies ought to have more regard to what is fair to other people generally. However, they are not required to do that. They are asked to be fair to those on top salaries—to doctors and to dentists, and to the armed forces of the Crown—and to fight their corner for them against politicians who would not want to see the fight take place. It is absolutely essential to get that clear.

The Lord Bishop of Manchester

My Lords, would the noble Earl agree that that is precisely why I said that it was the task of Governments to set the decisions of a review body into the overall national context?

The Earl of Halsbury

My Lords, if they started doing that I can only say that the chairman of the review body would have no honourable alternative except to resign, following the example of Lord Kindersley. The Government would then go back to square one and into the mess from which I did my best to help extract us 15 years ago.

I come to an important point. There are two kinds of review which can be made. One is the annual review which takes account of things like inflation and the making of relative adjustments, or possibly correcting errors of fact reported in previous reviews, and so on. But from time to time it is necessary to make what in the present report is called a fundamental review. That does not happen every year. It is concerned with such things as correcting creeping slippage between the members of a profession in the public sector and what is going on in the private sector. It may be concerned with a reconstruction of the salary structure and a reallocation of responsibilities.

That is not done every year. Quite long inervals can elapse between one fundamental review and another, and I think it might be helpful to the House if the noble Earl could tell us when he replies how long it is since the last fundamental review was done. The review body gave notice last year that it would do a fundamental review this year because the 16 per cent. which appears to be sticking out like a sore thumb, if I may mix my metaphors, in the minds of many people is a mixture of more factors than one. There would be the annual component of it plus x years' adjustments on the fundamental basis. If you think of it as 16 per cent. minus whatever would have been given if there had not been a fundamental review, and then spread that over the number of years since the last fundamental review, it may be that the figure would not look so big as people think.

The Opposition at the moment are pressing the Government to do precisely what got them into so much trouble 15 years ago. I do not understand what their amendment means. What is an "insensitive implementation"? What do the words "insensitive implementation" mean? Do they mean that the implementation ought not to have been made? In that case back we go to the troubles of 1970.

Or does it mean that there is a sensitive and insensitive way of making an implementation? I just do not understand that. You either implement something or you do not. If you do not you are in great trouble; if you implement it, you are right. Or does it have some third meaning? Does it mean that the Government's exposition of their reasons for accepting the review body's report was insufficiently detailed, or insufficiently explanatory, or whatever it may be?

For my part I cannot make head or tail of the amendment. What I can say is that if the effect of it, if it was passed, was to influence the Government in any way to alter the attitude they have taken to the review body, then back we should go to 1970 again, with resignations, mutinous client states, and somebody having to be brought in from outside to clear up the bits and pieces, as I was.

Thank goodness the Prime Minister has stuck to her guns and proved that a word can be a bond, which it has been. Apart from that one mistake by the Government in power in 1970, all Governments have been loyal to the undertaking that they would not tamper with the review body's findings. Yes, one can live with a situation in which they say, "We accept them, but we must phase them for various reasons involved in forward planning, and so on, but we will implement them next year in part, and in this year in part". That is fair enough. Clearly if there is a statutory pay pause the review body must take account of it. We cannot advise the Government to do what is against the law. But I always made the point of publishing what we would have awarded as a recommendation if there was not a pay pause and gave the Government a reminder that it was carried forward into the future and would have to be met in due course.

You need not be envious of the Lord Chancellor's pay rise. During the 20 years over the turn of the century when my grandfather sat on the Woolsack off and on—mostly on, but occasionally off—the salary of the Lord Chancellor was £10,000 a year. Index that to today and it ought to be £300,000 a year. But if you wanted to give him the indexed take-home pay it would have to be £450,000 a year. In fact we are underpaying him by a factor of four, whether he accepts it or not,

I said do not envy the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. What is envy? There is an interesting sociologist in the University of Frankfurt called Helmuth Schoeck, Professor of Sociology. He regards it as the impotent malice of whoever suffers from an irreversible disadvantage in life, and implacable accordingly. One of his obiter dicta—and it is an interesting book that he wrote on envy—is that "equalitarian" societies are envy-ridden and backward in all forms of initiative which, by reforming something, would give someone a marginal advantage over someone else. "You shan't have what I haven't got". That is the dog in the manger attitude of the envious. It is the profile of our society to a T for getting more and more equalitarianism.

Yes, I must wind up. I am sorry, my Lords, I was carried away. May I say that the simplest example of a non-equalitarian society is an athletic championship of some kind or other? It excites no envy. We are not trying to say that all athletes are equal. On the contrary, we are finding the best athlete who is not equal. Nobody envies Navratilova because she earned six million dollars in prizes in the year in which she won the American Open. I think we ought to try to have a less equalitarian society, less envy, malice and all uncharitableness. I oppose the amendment.

Lord Wilson of Langside

My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down, I wonder if he would tell me if I was correct in thinking that he was asserting that it was sensible for Government to surrender their fundamental responsibilities to bodies such as the Top Salaries Review Body?

The Earl of Halsbury

My Lords, I am sorry, but I cannot hear what the noble and learned Lord is saying.

9.8 p.m.

Viscount Trenchard

My Lords, I have been wondering why so many of us have had this extremely adverse reaction to the implementation of the Top Salaries Review Board Report. I think that all of us had the feeling which has been expressed by a number of noble Lords of, "Goodness! At this moment, with the teachers and all the rest!" Then one began to ponder not only what has been said many times already, whether there is ever a right moment; but one began to ponder whether this over-reaction (which I believe it to be) is yet another manifestation of our failure to understand what was done to the economy and the British structure and the British public service heads throughout the '60s and '70s under all Governments

During those years—and they have left us a backlog of problems—all governments applied prices and incomes policies and they attempted to arrest the symptoms of inflation while failing, as we know, actually to arrest inflation. During those years, the trade unions in both the public and private sectors continued, by and large (and in some cases they did better than that), to ensure that wages kept up with inflation. Accelerating inflation during these years eroded top salaries while restraints were placed upon them.

We talked about those with broad backs bearing a greater proportion of the load. At one stage, I think in the second half of the 1970s, we pegged all increases on salaries above £8,500 and, during those years, with inflation more often over 10 per cent. than under it, it needs little imagination to see what was done to differentials.

During these years, we did immense damage to other aspects of the economy which are not being debated tonight but which have produced a shortage of resources for so many of the desirable things that Government would like to spend money on at the present time. But in this respect, those policies produced the brain drain, they produced compression of salaries in the public sector and the private sector. By 1980, when I was at the Department of Industry—and I have forgotten which particular grades they were; but due to the detail of the system—there was actually a situation where I think an assistant secretary was earning more than a deputy secretary. There was no room for any differential; no room left! And the review body brings this out very clearly.

Before going on, I would say at this point to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, that therefore I do not think that this is a question of the top going up and all others going up. The problem which the review body sets out so clearly is that there is no differential and that differentials must be restored. In the private sector, since 1979, differentials to a large extent have been restored. To a high degree, the brain drain is at an end and there has even been a reverse brain drain. But this has not happened in the public sector.

The market does affect top people in the public sector. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that there is an immense commitment to service among top civil servants, generals and judges—and other noble Lords have spoken of that. But when, in the Civil Service, you have levels, as the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, pointed out, a small fraction of the equivalent in the private sector, you are straining the situation far too much. And this has come about because of the long years of build-up of backlog. I had personal experience as late as 1982 of very highly talented young civil servants, of one particular "Bernard" (whose "Humphrey" regarded him as a potential "Humphrey" of the future) who left because, as a married man, he was offered without seeking it a salary three times what he was earning at the level of principal. We cannot allow this to go on, and we cannot say on any side of the House that we regard the public sector as extremely important and the people in it as extremely important and not make sure that we have the most able people trying to get to the top of it.

Of course, not everybody wants money equally and, of course, good judges and good generals will say that they did not ask for it—they are responsible people. They would also say that they did not need it! But that is not to say that justice should not be done and that part of this backlog should not be put right. I agree with various noble Lords who have said that we must think and think again about systems for other grades in the public sector. I have only to say that many people have thought and few have delivered; but I am sure that those who are advocating that we should have more system in relation to salaries in the public sector would agree that the same formula cannot apply to all sorts of different sectors and all sorts of different levels; and that the top-people aspect, because of the years of backlog that I have described, is in a dangerous situation, as the report makes very clear, and that we can brook no delay in putting it right. Therefore, I support the report and the Government and oppose the amendment.

9.12 p.m.

Baroness Phillips

My Lords, I would first say to the noble Earl that I do not speak in any malice or envy, but I do speak in some anger and I am going to use this opportunity in three minutes to say why I intervene in this debate. This decision of the Government to accept the proposals—and this is what we are talking about, and not necessrily the report—on the top people's salaries is, in my judgment, against the problem of the teachers, both cynical and philistine. If we look at the recipients—the armed forces, the Judiciary and the Civil Service—it reveals very clearly the low regard with which this Government holds education and health.

The argument that these people, these top people—and I think we all have met these top people—will defect to the private sector is certainly equally relevant to the teachers, particularly if they are teaching maths, science or technology. We have had no opportunity to debate even the White Paper or to speak on their plight at all. In May, an article in the Observer entitled "Our Crumbling Schools" stated: The morale in these particular schools is often quite high, but nevertheless in the past 18 months specialists in maths, in English, in physics and in computer sciences have left for better pay in industry". Therefore, my Lords, we assume that the Government have accepted this argument.

Why have they selected only this one implementation which they are taking tonight? I would only remind your Lordships that if we lose the educators, we will not need to bother about the fact that we want top people in the Judiciary, in the Civil Service or in the armed forces. They will not be around.

9.15 p.m.

Lord Hanson

My Lords, I rise briefly at this late stage to place the emphasis on the important principles that have surfaced during the course of the debate. As I understand it, the essence of the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, is insensitive implementation: not really whether or not the increases are worthy. The noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, went into that in detail.

The argument is about a small number of people. Is there any real dispute among us that these relatively few people are crucial to the wellbeing of our country, whether in the field of public administration, the armed forces, the Judiciary or wherever it may be? And is there any dispute between us that these few people carry the most enormous burdens? As in industry, we must be diligent to identify those relatively few individuals and, having found them, to ensure that they are paid their proper worth.

I believe that the distinguished group who form the review body have done a thorough and workmanlike job. We have heard much argument that if a Lord Chancellor, an admiral or a permanent secretary shall thus be rewarded, so in turn shall everyone else down the ladder in those professions. Why should this be? Why is this kind of thinking so lodged in our national attitudes? Why should everyone expect rises commensurate with the crucial few?

The Government are accused of insensitivity and poor timing, but it is not the Government who are insensitive: it is the fact that so many people have allowed themselves to come to believe and to demand that everyone should have automatic increases. I see no reason why in these professions, as in industry, reward should not relate very closely to performance. I see no reason for restricting mobility. If the job does not suit, the opportunity to move on exists. It is this performance aspect of the review which has been submerged in all this huffing and puffing over the issue.

As to the timing of the decision, I believe the arguments have no substance. Personally, I am a grasper of nettles. So long as these matters have to be examined and pronounced upon by Governments, I believe that the Government are right to place proper emphasis on recognition of and reward for outstanding merit, and to relate it to performance. Pay the going rate for the job, my Lords. We must count ourselves fortunate that, once again, the Government have been prepared to state the principles clearly and to stand their ground. I strongly oppose the amendment.

9.21 p.m.

Lord Seebohm

My Lords, I shall be very brief. I have in fact torn up my prepared speech, but there are one or two points I feel I must make. I have read the report with great care. I rather wonder whether everyone else who has spoken has done so. I find it logical, soundly argued, and the conclusions convincing. I believe that while comparisons are odious—as they say in the report—one has to compare permanent secretaries' salaries with something. In my view, the difference between public sector and private sector salaries has become altogether too large to be tolerable. The crucial question is the extent of the discount of the public sector which one needs to have in order to ensure that there is not too great an incentive to leave, or not go into, the Civil Service, which must attract people of the highest calibre.

Not only have I read the report with care but I have done some researches of my own. I am convinced that any greater differential between the two sectors would be highly dangerous for the future. I took at random half-a-dozen company reports which I have received in the last two or three months with regard to some small investments I have. I found that the chief executives, on the whole, received not only well over £100,000—the smallest one was £88,000, the average was well over £100,000—but four out of the six had had increases this year of over 25 per cent. So if we do not do something about the public sector issue they will get even further behind very quickly.

So far as I am concerned, the whole question is therefore whether the method and timing of the implementation was right or wrong. I must say that I am very disturbed at the policy that has now crept in in the country' which is called "unright" time. I believe that the more one delays taking justifiable action, the more difficult it becomes to put it right. I must therefore oppose the amendment.

9.23 p.m.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

My Lords, I too shall be brief. Like the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, I am glad to say that I have read the report and would like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, and his colleagues for producing it.

In looking at the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, I found that I was fascinated by it. I have yet to see a critical amendment on an important occasion like this in such very gentle terms. I can only believe that the noble Lord must be remembering the 35 per cent. award made in 1978 by a Government in which he was a Cabinet Minister and the reception which he received from the Conservative Opposition of the day, which did not oppose him. His conscience may be pricking him and that is why he gives us such a very gentle reproof today.

The fact is that the TSRB reports are always difficult for every Government whenever they receive one. My noble friend Lord Halsbury recounted his experience—which some of us may remember; many may have forgotten—of the dramatic event that occurs if a Government of the day do not accept the TSRB report and a new TSRB has to be found. This was a fascinating reminder of the practical problems behind this particular Motion we have in front of us now.

Some noble Lords opposite, who will vote for the amendment, were most ingenious in finding some reason for voting against the Motion. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has already been referred to. The noble Lord said that he accepted the report but he still found a reason for saying that he will vote against the Government. The position of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, was not dissimilar. But noble Lords opposite know perfectly well that come the day when they get back into government—I hope it is a long way off—they will get a TSRB report and they will accept it. There is nothing else to do. They will hope that the Opposition of the day will be kinder to them than this Opposition has been to this Government. We all know that.

The fact is that Governments cannot manage without a Top Salaries Review Body to deal with the logistics of top salaries related to commerce and industry and, indeed, related to the international market with which we are all connected today. Noble Lords know that they will be standing on their heads in voting against the Government tonight. But this amendment, gentle though it is, would be damaging to the Government's reputation. It should therefore be rejected resoundingly. The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, told us that the Government have made a bad political judgment. The Governments's action in implementing this TSRB award may be bad politics, but it is good government and it should be supported.

9.26 p.m.

Lord Rochester

My Lords, may I say first that on these Benches we have no quarrel with the findings of the review body itself? Indeed, I should like to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, and to his colleagues, who over the years have discharged their unenviable task admirably. Morever, for my part, I understand and even sympathise with a key recommendation in the report that, in the case of senior civil servants in particular, the present pay framework should be recast to take more account of performance and to provide more flexibility for the development of managerial needs. But all that, I suggest, is peripheral to this debate.

Until 10 days ago, it could reasonably be claimed that the Government had a rough and ready pay policy for the public services. As I understood it, it was because the control of inflation was paramount. Where the Government were directly or indirectly the paymaster, increases should be kept as nearly as possible to 3 per cent. per anum. But now that they have agreed to much higher increases for our most highly paid public servants—already among the chief beneficiaries of earlier tax concessions, as has been said earlier in the debate—how can they reasonably expect the claims of teachers, of local government employees and of the general body of civil servants to be held back?

In making their recommendations, the Top Salaries Review Body took into account the factors of recruitment, retention, motivation and morale. Consider, my Lords, the question of morale. Paragraph 55 of the report of the review body states: It is felt… that the civil service has declined in public… esteem, and it is seen by many as offering a markedly less worthwhile career than hitherto. But that observation was not made about the higher echelons alone. It applies to the Civil Service as a whole. Since the Government withdrew unilaterally from the agreed procedures for determining pay five years ago, rates of pay for civil servants have increased by about 25 per cent., or less than half the rate of increase for white collar staff generally. Moreover, pay outside the service is currently rising at an annual rate which is approximately three times as high as that projected for the Civil Service this year. No wonder morale is low!

Or take the factor of motivation. I think there is much truth in the saying, Man does not live by bread alone, except when there is no bread. In other words, it is those who are less well-off who are most motivated by the need for monetary incentives in order merely to subsist. In contrast, in my experience, as people move up the promotion ladder they are motivated increasingly by factors such as responsibility, achievement and the recognition of achievement. Yet it is precisely people at the very top whom the Government have now singled out for special treatment in terms of monetary reward.

As for recruitment and retention, there are no indications of many permanent secretaries, generals or judges leaving their posts, or of difficulty being experienced in replacing them when they do go On the other hand it is not surprising to hear a report of disaffection in the Civil Service among people at the lower levels of assistant secretaries and senior principal, who this year to the best of my knowledge are to receive increases of less than 5 per cent.

As my noble friend Lord Diamond said earlier, we on these Benches support the amendment that was moved earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Barnett. I was sorry that the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, found the amendment difficult to understand. I suggest that that was because he failed to pay sufficient attention to the last clause—that is to say, our regret about the implementation of this policy in the context of the Government's policy towards public services pay generally. Indeed, if there is a fault in the amendment it may be that it should have referred to the absence of any such policy at all.

I was sorry that from the Labour Benches, with the honourable exception, if I may so so, of the noble Lord, Lord Murray of Epping Forest, I did not get any clear idea as to how the Labour Party might solve this very complex problem of pay determination in the public services. For our part we do not think that that is good enough. It is always easier to define a problem than it is to prescribe a solution. Therefore, from these Benches, let me at least offer a few positive suggestions.

First, we believe there is an urgent need to establish agreed long-term arrangements for pay determination that extend much further than those required to cater merely for the Civil Service. The aim should be, after consultation between the Government and representatives of employers, trade unions and other relevant interests, to obtain the widest possible understanding and acceptance of the overall increase in incomes which at periodic intervals the country can afford. These arrangements would thus apply to both public and private sectors of the economy. I cannot for the life of me see what the Government have to lose by embarking on this potentially open and educative process when there is a forum available for the purpose in the shape of the National Economic Development Council.

Next, surely all past experience shows that when matters relating to the pay of a particular group are considered in isolation—for example, in the examination undertaken now some years ago by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, in the case of teachers—attention is concentrated on the problem from the viewpoint of the group concerned rather than from that of others affected by it. It surely follows that there is need to establish procedures for pay determination which apply to people in the public services generally.

Lastly on this point, in the event of negotiations in any service resulting in failure to agree, provision should be made despite the attendant difficulties for settlement of the dispute by a single independent standing commission. Only thus, in my view, can public servants be expected to acquire the confidence to give the necessary prior indication or undertaking that the findings of the commission will be observed. Such an undertaking should be matched by a corresponding commitment on the part of the Government, withdrawal by the Government being possible only after the passing of a positive resolution to that effect by both Houses of Parliament.

I know that a potential criticism of that idea is that settlements of that kind would be inflationary. Such criticism stems from a failure to differentiate sufficiently between arbitration and conciliation. The intention here would not be to bring the parties closer together, nor to split the difference between them. The aim would rather be at reaching a decision which would generally be regarded as reasonable because it would be made by a body whose members were acknowledged to be independent.

The alternative—and noble Lords opposite must face it—is for the community to suffer continuing disruption such as that inflicted upon it this year by teachers, last year in the payment of pensions, and earlier by civil servants and health service workers perceiving themselves to be unfairly treated. I am sorry that the Chief Whip should be looking impatient, but I propose to finish my speech.

Our proposals are put forward in a constructive spirit and as evidence of a willingness on our part to offer a positive contribution to the solution of this intractable problem. As the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, well knows, it involves jobs just as much as pay. It is surely reasonable to suggest, in turn, that the Government do not possess a monopoly of wisdom in these matters.

In their report for 1984, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service offered their advice and help in dealing both with the criteria to be adopted and the procedures to be followed in case of disagreement in determining pay in a non-trading part of the sector. Why do the Government not take advantage of the experience in this field of Sir Pat Lowry, the chairman of ACAS, for whom I, for one, hold a very high regard?

We on these Benches are not seeking to resist the implementation of the Lord Chancellor's Salary Order 1985 but are strongly of the opinion that it would be salutary if the House of Lords, in supporting the amendment before your Lordships, serve notice on the Government in general and on the Prime Minister in particular that there is a need for them to keep in closer touch with the millions of ordinary people they govern and who desire to be treated fairly.

9.38 p.m.

The Earl of Gowrie

My Lords, it is my sense that your Lordships wish to take a view of this matter. I must say that I live in some fear of a massive vote in favour of reducing my own salary, which is no princely sum——

Noble Lords


The Earl of Gowrie

——if I were to delay your Lordships for any length of time. The noble Lord, Lord Rochester, made a marvellously characteristic Liberal speech. He said that he had no quarrel with the recommendations of the Top Salaries Review Board but was supposed to have a quarrel with the Government, and so he had to think of something to quarrel with the Government about. Apart from that, this was a first-class and fascinating debate. Although I acknowledge a little prejudice, I thought that the tail-end batsmen all scored about 100 not out.

I should like to correct one statement that was made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester. It is quite untrue to say that the Cabinet did not discuss this matter. The Cabinet were obviously extremely concerned about it. If your Lordships disagree with the decision and wish for a whipping boy, then I hope that I can appear in that role because——

The Lord Bishop of Manchester

My Lords, on a point of personal explanation, did the noble Lord the Minister hear me when I said that I did not understand that the Cabinet had agonised over this? It was not simply a matter of discussing it.

The Earl of Gowrie

My Lords, perhaps on a subsequent occasion I will analyse the word "agony" with the right reverend Prelate. It was an extremely difficult decision, as it always would be.

I was saying that if the House wishes for a whipping boy from the Cabinet in respect of this decision, I hope that your Lordships will choose me because, as Minister for the Civil Service, I would have been in a virtually impossible position had these recommendations not been adopted.

I wish simply briefly to correct one or two assumptions that have been made by those speakers in this admirable debate who have not shared the Government's view. They are the speakers who thought that the real difficulty behind this decision was that it was taken in isolation from the deserving claims of other groups in the public sector. That simply is not the case. As I said in my opening remarks, the Government took into account the fact that within the public sector the Government had adopted the review recommendations for dentists, doctors and nurses. I wholly agree that unfettered free collective bargaining is a difficult phenomenon in public sector pay, and that is precisely why it is so important to take into account, and to adopt as far as possible, the recommendations of these objective review bodies.

The other group in the public sector frequently cited during this debate was the teachers. Again, I do not think the point in respect of the teachers could have been answered better than by my noble friend Lord Beloff. The dispute between the employers and the teachers is not fundamentally a pay issue. The Government have made it quite clear that they would like to pay the teachers well, but the argument is about the assessment of performance of teachers and the terms and conditions of their pay structure. As an ex-teacher, I still hope that this so important group in society will see the wisdom and virtue of assessment, as nearly all of us do.

The noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, also gave the game away when she said that specialists in maths and science were leaving the teaching professions for industry. It is not the Government who do not wish to pay differentials to maths and science teachers within the teaching profession; it is the National Union of Teachers, and others, who are resisting this move.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, I thought made, if I may respectfully say this to him. the best case against the Government, as one might expect from someone of his experience. Nevertheless, he did not give us sufficient credit for taking into account the very fact of the recommendations by other pay bodies when we decided to accept the recommendations of the noble Lord, Lord Plowden. The noble and learned Lord spoke about his experience of judges as not necessarily being desirous or anxious about pay increases, but that was certainly not the view of the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, and his body. Paragraph 82 of the report states: Circuit judges themselves feel strongly that they should move up in the structure, away from Magistrates and closer to the High Court Judge. A number of other speakers mentioned the wages councils, with which I have been intimately concerned during my time in Government. The issue there is not one of low pay; it is fundamentally an issue of employment among young people, most of whom live at home and most of whom do not have full adult responsibility in respect of expenditure. This country pays people entering employment far more than our competitor countries, and as a result there are considerable difficulties in finding sufficient work for young people.

The noble Lord, Lord Bancroft, who is quite famous for the degree of acidity in his disagreements with the present Government, made the case that I feel so strongly about in respect of the Civil Service wonderfully well. He reminded your Lordships, as I seek to do, that it is very easy for people who are paying the standard rates of tax not to realise what 60 per cent. levels of tax do to take-home pay. It is not only workers—as if all of us were not workers—who consider take-home pay. All salaried people do so. I would remind your Lordships that pay of £50,000 a year, which sounds a lot of money, is in fact only about £20,000 a year in net terms.

Noble Lords


The Earl of Gowrie

My Lords, I think it would be well for the Opposition Benches to remember that these recommendations were not made by the Government. The people who made the recommendations, which the Government have accepted, were not motivated by greed; they are not people who believe that there is one law for the rich and one for the poor; they are not people who have no morality or no sense of shame. They are men and women who have worked hard to take soundings of opinion, to look facts in the face and of course to consider the wider implications of what they recommend. In the words of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, who was a former Leader of your Lordships' House and who was Minister for the Civil Service in a Labour Government, the report was produced by, "brilliant and fair-minded men".

In my view most of the ills of British society—and I say this specifically to the right reverend Prelate—come not from unfairness nor greed nor injustice. Most of our difficulties stem, as my noble friend Lord Hanson has so eloquently said, from procrastination, from taking short-term political decisions to our longer term political and economic detriment. We cannot continually put off difficult decisions which objective and wholly unpolitical analyses suggest are needed. We have had to have the courage of the noble Lord, Lord Plowden's, convictions. Let us not vitiate the mark and work of responsible and fair-minded men by supporting this amendment tonight.

9.46 p.m.

Lord Barnett

My Lords, I must say to the noble Earl that I do understand that what the 60 per cent. rate of tax does to top pay hurts; but of course if those in the public sector at a lower level on the salaries scale who have been spoken about in this debate received percentage increases of the same level as those granted by the Top Salaries Review Body they still would not be above the 30 per cent. tax rate. We are talking about unfairness; that is the case that has been made by all those who have spoken in favour of the amendment, and it is something that the noble Earl simply does not seem to understand.

We have had a most interesting debate and perhaps I may say to those noble Lords who have spoken in favour of Plowden that they should have listened to the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, when he spoke of the very moderate amendment which I have moved. They could very well support that amendment and support the Plowden report in the same way as my noble friend Lord Shackleton is doing this evening. It is a quite simple matter, because what both the right reverend Prelates have said in this debate is that what the Government have to do is what Plowden cannot do. Plowden has to consider top salaries; the Government have to consider something much wider and much more important than just that.

The noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, asked me a question—I am sorry if he could not understand it. I do not know at what time of the night he was reading the question, but I used to find it extremely difficult to read briefs late at night. He asked me the question, "What is insensitive implementation?" I shall tell him. Insensitive implementation of the Plowden report is when a Government totally ignore what they are doing to the rest of the public sector. That is what this amendment is about. It is a very moderate amendment, as I have said. It simply regrets what the Government are doing.

During the course of this debate it was said by, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, that voting for this amendment would damage the Government's reputation. What a terrible thing for your Lordships to do! Yet they really should not be frightened of doing that because, after all, the Government have been doing it themselves for a very long time. Therefore they really should not worry about that. What they should worry about rather more are the points made, in my view very well indeed, by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester, and it was interesting that the noble Earl took them up. I naturally have great sympathy for the views of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester, being a Mancunian. Not only do I have sympathy because of that, but also because he was right.

What they said was that it is true, as I think the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, said earlier on, that high responsibility should have high reward. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Hanson, who talked about the fact that performance should be rewarded. But permanent secretaries are to be rewarded with large increases, regardless of their performances. If one is talking about performances, one really should be thinking of the performances of nurses, teachers and others in the public sector who are very low paid. That is what the amendment is all about.

I think it is worth repeating what the right reverend Prelate and the noble and learned Lord said. It was that the Government should not only take account of the Plowden Report on top salaries and the three groups concerned, but that they should also take account of the feelings and views of people out in the country who are equally concerned for those at all levels of salary—at very much lower levels. That is why I urge noble Lords to vote for this amendment. In so doing, they will not be doing any harm; they will be helping the country and indeed, I hope, helping the Government to rule rather better than they have been doing.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Ampthill)

My Lords, the original Question was, that the draft order laid before the House be approved, since when an amendment has been moved in the terms set out on the Order Paper. The Question is, that this amendment be agreed to.

9.51 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 140; Not-Contents, 136.

Airedale, L. Banks, L.
Amherst, E. Barnett, L.
Ardwick, L. Bath and Wells, Bp.
Avebury, L. Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Aylestone, L. Bernstein, L.
Birk, B. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. McNair, L.
Bottomley, L. Mais, L.
Briginshaw, L. Manchester, Bp.
Brocket, L. Mayhew, L.
Brockway, L. Meston, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Milner of Leeds, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Mishcon, L.
Buckmaster, V. Molloy, L.
Burton of Coventry, B. Molson, L.
Caradon, L. Monkswell, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Morris of Kenwood, L.
Morton of Shuna, L.
Chandos V. Mountgarret, V.
Chichester, Bp. Mulley, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Collison, L.
Crawshaw of Aintree, L. Nicol, B.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Ogmore, L.
Darwen, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
David, B. [Teller] Oram, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Paget of Northampton, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Parry, L.
Denington, B. Phillips, B.
Denning, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Diamond, L. Plant, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller]
Elwyn-Jones, L. Prys-Davies, L.
Elystan-Morgan, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Ennals, L. Rea, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Ezra, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Fairfax of Cameron, L. Rochester, L.
Falkender, B. Rugby, L.
Falkland, V. Russell of Liverpool, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Seear, B.
Gallacher, L. Sefton of Garston, L.
Galpern, L. Serata, B.
Gladwyn, L. Shackleton, L.
Glenamara, L. Shepherd, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Shinwell, L.
Greenway, L. Silkin of Dulwich, L.
Gregson, L. Simon, V.
Grey, E. Stallard, L.
Hacking, L. Stamp, L.
Hampton, L. Stedman, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Heycock, L. Strabolgi, L.
Hooson, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Howie of Troon, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Hughes, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Irving of Dartford, L. Tordoff, L.
Jacques, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Underhill, L.
John-Mackie, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Kagan, L. Walston, L.
Kaldor, L. Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Kilmarnock, L. Whaddon, L.
Kirkhill, L. White, B.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E Wigoder, L.
Listowel, E. Williams of Elvel, L.
Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Wilson of Langside, L.
Winstanley, L.
Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Winterbottom, L.
Lockwood, B. Young of Dartington, L.
Lovell-Davis, L.
Aldington, L. Bessborough, E.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Allerton, L. Brabazon of Tara, L.
Ampthill, L. Bridgeman, V.
Arran, E. Brougham and Vaux, L.
Atholl, D. Broxbourne, L.
Bancroft, L. Caithness, E.
Barber, L. Cameron of Lochbroom, L.
Beaverbrook, L. Campbell of Alloway, L.
Bellwin, L. Campbell of Croy, L.
Beloff, L. Carnegy of Lour, B.
Belstead, L. Carnock, L.
Cathcart, E. King of Wartnaby, L.
Chelmer, L. Kitchener, E.
Chelwood, L. Lauderdale, E.
Coleraine, L. Layton, L.
Colwyn, L. Loch, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. Long, V.
Cork and Orrery, E. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Cowley, E. Lyell, L.
Craigavon, V. McFadzean, L.
Craigmyle, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Crathorne, L. Mancroft, L.
Croft, L. Margadale, L.
Cross, V. Marley, L.
Davidson, V. Marshall of Leeds, L.
De La Warr, E. Massereene and Ferrard. V.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Matthews, L.
Digby, L. Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon L.
Dormer, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Melville, V.
Dulverton, L. Mottistone, L.
Eccles, V. Mountevans, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Munster, E.
Elibank, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Ellenborough, L. Newall, L.
Elles, B. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Orr-Ewing, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Pender, L.
Elton, L. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Faithfull, B. Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Ferrers, E. Polwarth, L.
Fortescue, E. Reay, L.
Gainford, L. Reigate, L.
Gibson-Watt, L. Rodney, L.
Glanusk, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Glenarthur, L. Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Gowrie, E. Seebohm, L.
Gray, L. Shannon, E.
Gray of Contin, L. Sharples, B.
Gridley, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Grimthorpe, L. Stockton, E.
Halsbury, E. Swinfen, L.
Hanson, L. Swinton, E. [Teller.]
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Teviot, L.
Henderson of Brompton, L. Tranmire, L.
Henley, L. Trenchard, V.
Hood, V. Trumpington, B.
Hooper, B. Tryon, L.
Howe, E. Ullswater, V.
Hylton-Foster, B. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Inchcape, E. Vivian, L.
Ironside, L. Westbury, L.
Jessel, L. Whitelaw, V.
Kaberry of Adel, L. Wynford, L.
Kemsley, V. Young, B.
Killearn, L. Young of Graffham, L.
Kimball, L. Ypres, E.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

On Question, Motion, as amended, agreed to

10.3 p.m.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, in view of that firm expression by the House in an important Division on a matter of great public interest, may we have the assurance of the noble Viscount the Leader of the House that he will convey to his right honourable friend the Prime Minister and his colleagues in the Cabinet the views of the House on this matter, and that he will do so as soon as possible and, if possible, also make a Statement to the House before we rise on Wednesday?

Noble Lords

Hear, hear!

The Lord President of the Council (Viscount Whitelaw)

My Lords, on the first point your Lordships' House has expressed its view. Of course I take note of that. Naturally I shall report that view to my colleagues and to the Prime Minister. I do not quite see what purpose there would be in any Statement from me because, after all, this House has passed the order and expressed a view, as is its proper position and as it should do. That is what it did. I have noted that position and I shall report it to my colleagues. I should have thought that that was the sum total of my responsibilities to this House, and that I shall most certainly do.

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