HL Deb 10 December 1991 vol 533 cc595-6

Lord Waddington rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 2nd December be approved [5th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am sorry to say that a small error has appeared in the final version of the order. The first line of Article 2 should read: For the annual amount or the maximum or minimum annual amount".

The necessary correction slip will be issued.

This year's proposals are quite straightforward, so I hope that I need not detain the House for long. I set out the position in a Written Answer which I gave to the House on 2nd December. The order will have the effect of increasing the salaries of ministerial and paid office holders in this House and in the other place by 4½ per cent. The increase will be from 1st January 1992 and will lead to an increase in the pay bill overall of £154,000.

In accordance with the resolution of the House of Commons on 21st July 1987, the reduced parliamentary salaries of Commons' Ministers and paid office holders will increase by 6.5 per cent.

Over the lifetime of this Government most Ministers have received increases that have been significantly lower than the increase in average earnings in the economy as a whole. I believe that the proposals that I have outlined today, while constituting a realistic settlement, continue to demonstrate the Government's commitment towards pay restraint. I therefore commend the Motion to the House.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 2nd December be approved [5th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Waddington.)

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, we on this side of the Chamber have listened to the very fair and full explanation of the background to the order. We have nothing to add; in other words, we approve of what the Minister said.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, can my noble friend explain two items in the order which puzzle me? First, why is it that the Scottish Law Officers are to be paid substantially more than the English ones? The difference is £8,000 as regards the Lord Advocate vis-à-vis the Attorney-General, and £10,000 as between the Solicitors-General. Secondly, why is provision made for pay for an assistant Opposition Whip or Whips in the Commons but none for similar officers in this House?

Lord Waddington

My Lords, I do not know the answer to the second question. As to the first question, one has to remember that Ministers in the Commons receive a part of their parliamentary salary. For that reason it has been decided to give a larger salary as a ministerial salary to the Law Officers in this House and a Law Officer who is not a Member of either House. If that were not done, the remuneration might be thought to be totally inadequate.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, will my noble friend amplify that a little? It is perfectly understandable that, where the Minister concerned is in this House, account has to be taken of the fact that he is not getting a parliamentary salary. But if, as has often been the case, Scottish Law Officers should be in another place, would their salaries be proportionately reduced?

Lord Waddington

My Lords, I think that that is indeed the case. It appears as it does in the order because at the present time the Solicitor-General for Scotland is not in the House of Commons and the Lord Advocate is in this place.

Lord Dean of Beswick

My Lords, may I ask the Minister if the £14,000 that went through another place and your Lordships' House, is the overnight allowance for Ministers and people on the payroll; and is it totally unaffected by today's proceedings? If it is not affected and it is being increased, why is our £68 overnight allowance not being increased instead of being frozen?

Lord Waddington

My Lords, this order has nothing whatever to do with the overnight allowance paid to Ministers in the Lords. When I announced that decision some little time ago it had a very favourable reception here because it seemed unfair that Ministers in the other place should have received an allowance to cover some of the cost of having an additional home. It was to correct that injustice that it was decided to pay this allowance to Lords' Ministers.

Lord Dean of Beswick

My Lords, I should like to put the record right. I am not suggesting that I am opposed to that idea. I am only asking whether that allowance has been frozen, along with our £68 overnight allowance. That is what it is supposed to be for—200 nights.

Lord Waddington

My Lords, I seem to remember that it is only a very few months ago that I announced to this House the new overnight allowance for Ministers. It would have been very surprising if there had been an increase after so few months have elapsed. We shall have to wait and see whether it will be increased year on year.

On Question, Motion agreed to.