HC Deb 07 December 1965 vol 722 cc58-60W
Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government which rent tribunals have lost their clerks since 1st September; how long each of those clerks had served their tribunals or other tribunals; whether he will give details of other impending losses of which he has information; what further losses he expects; and what experienced replacements are available.

Mr. MacColl

My right hon. Friend understands that the clerks of the following tribunals have given notice since 1st September of their intention to leave:

Tribunal Length of service of clerk years
Norwich 12
South Middlesex 19
North West London 17
West London 15
Kent 19
Lincolnshire 19
South West London 19

He is aware that clerks of three other tribunals have applied for posts elsewhere but he has no information whether further resignations will result. Where vacancies are not being filled from within the rent tribunal service the Department will assist the tribunals in finding replacements.

Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government (1) if he is aware of the discontent among rent tribunal staff at the failure to solve the question of their status and grading; when proposals may be expected; whether the decision or any aspects of it will be open to negotiation; and what has been the cause of the delay in settling the matter;

(2) why no indication has been given to chairmen of rent tribunals of proposals for improving their staffs' conditions of service; when the decision to concede in principle Civil Service status was taken; when the proposed grading of posts was taken; when the proposed personal gradings will be announced; and why this information was not available to clerks considering whether to remain with the tribunals or seek other posts;

(3) what work study was undertaken before he rejected a pay claim on behalf of rent tribunal clerks for parity with the executive officer scale on the ground that the work was not comparable; whether he is aware that in consequence of a Treasury inspection of selected tribunals since, clerks' posts are to be graded as executive officer; and whether he will now rescind the March decision and authorise the claim to be met from its original date;

(4) what are his proposals for the Civil Service grading of rent tribunal clerks; and what account will be taken of the service, up to 19 years in some cases, which they have given in posts now resigned as on a par with executive officers.

Mr. MacColl

In September, 1964, the Society of Civil Servants, which represents the clerks of rent tribunals set up under the Furnished Houses (Rent Control) Act 1946, submitted a claim for a new salary structure comparable to the upper part of the scale of a Civil Service executive officer. The Ministry could not accept the justification for such a scale and after negotiation the Society of Civil Servants withdrew the claim and accepted instead an improvement of the existing scale based on recent increases in Civil Service pay at comparable levels. It was, however, understood between the two sides that there would be a review of the pay of rent tribunal staff when it was known what effect the Rent Act, 1965, would have on their position.

Meanwhile, as was foreshadowed in my right hon. Friend's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. Robert Edwards) on 17th November, 1964, the status of furnished rent tribunal staff has been under review in the light of the Government's decision to make permanent the 1946 Act. On 29th July this year the Society was told that it had been decided in principle that the staff should be given Civil Service status. The staff inspection which followed was required to provide up-to-date evidence of the appropriate grading of the posts of clerk and assistant clerk. Further information on the progress of the inspection was given from time to time to the Society in order to help the staff in considering whether to remain with the tribunals or seek other posts.

It is expected that it will be possible to put detailed proposals to the Society at a meeting already arranged for 10th December. As soon as the gradings of the posts have been determined, arrangement will be made in conjunction with the Civil Service Commission for the staff concerned to be considered for establishment as permanent civil servants. Since this process must be completed before the grading of individual members of the staff can be settled it is not possible as yet to advise individual officers.

The past service with the rent tribunals of those who are established will count for the purposes of superannuation or gratuity as if it had been unestablished civil service throughout. The extent to which past service can be recognised for seniority purposes is a matter for negotiation with the Departmental staff side.

This and any other general questions of pay and conditions of service following regrading will in the normal way be the subject of negotiations with the Society of Civil Servants. The chairman of rent tribunals will be kept in touch with developments.