§ Mr. Ancram
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what action has been taken by health boards in Scotland in response to the departmental directive of 20 December 1979 to enter immediately into discussions with representatives of the medical laboratory scientific officers in order to rectify any breaches of Whitley Council agreements which local agreements on the provision of out-of-hours services presently contain.
§ Mr. Fairgrieve
None of the health boards in Scotland which have entered into local agreements has yet successfully renegotiated its agreement to bring it into line with the Whitley Council agreement.
The situation has, however, changed substantially since the departmental letter of 20 December, in that the staff side has told the management side of the relevant committee of the Whitley Council that it intends to withdraw from the national agreement on payments for out-of-hours work and to proceed by negotiating local agreements. The management side therefore asked the Secretary of State to authorise health authorities to pay the rates which they proposed in their latest offer made on 21 December.
The action by the staff side is entirely unacceptable, but it is unfair that because of its action the staff who have been working loyally should be deprived of payment at reasonable rates. Ministers therefore agreed to the management side's request, and health boards and the Common Services Agency were authorised on 5 February to pay the new rates. At the same time, health boards and the agency have been told that they must 348W cease making payments under current illegal local agreements, and I have written individually to the chairman stressing the importance of this.