HC Deb 28 November 1972 vol 847 cc78-80W
Mr. Biffen

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received from the Confederation of British Industry concerning staff pay increases deriving from incremental arrangements and job evaluation during the period of standstill prescribed by the Counter-Inflation (Temporary Provisions) Act; what reply he has given; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

Increments paid to individual employees related to their age or length of service are most common in white collar employments, in both the public and private sectors—in insurance companies, banks and those industrial concerns with large office staffs, as well as civil servants, teachers, nurses, and others in the public service. But there are also age and service-related payments in the manual field as well.

The most common arrangement in the public services is to negotiate a predetermined range or scale through which the individual moves by regular and specified steps. In such cases it is the range or scale which is the rate for the job. It is the range or scale which is commonly increased, as a whole, by the normal process of collective bargaining; such general increases are expressly forbidden during the standstill by paragraph 12 of the White Paper. The workers concerned will therefore have deferred till the end of the standstill any such general increase from which they might normally have expected to benefit over the period of the standstill. In the Government's view it would be unfair to penalise such workers twice by preventing the normal progression through an incremental system which is an integral part of their existing conditions of service. But as was pointed out during the tripartite talks both by the CBI and by the TUC there is a very wide variety of practice in this matter. In particular the degree of managerial discretion on the actual amounts to be paid varies greatly.

The introduction of new incremental arrangements during the standstill would constitute an increase in the range or scale and as such would be contrary to paragraph 12 of the White Paper. It is the Government's intention that increments should be payable during the standstill only where there was on 6th November a pre-existing contractual obligation. The exception provided for by Clause 3(3) reflects this.

In accordance with this approach the Government intend that during the period of the standstill additional personal increments should be paid only if they are in accordance with a predetermined range or scale and the increments are regular and of specified amounts. Payments which do not come within the above formula should not therefore be made without specific reference to the Department of Employment.