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New Clause—(Termination Of Power To Make Up Civil Remuneration)

Volume 437: debated on Thursday 8 May 1947

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(1) The power conferred by section one of the Local Government Staffs (War Service) Act, 1939, to make payments to or in respect of a person ceasing to serve in his civil capacity in order to undertake war service shall not be exercisable in respect of any person who ceases so to serve after such date as may be specified by order of the Minister of Health.

(2) This section shall come into force on the passing of this Act.—[ Mr. Aneurin Bevan.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

I hope this Clause will receive the support of the Members of the Committee. [Interruption.] Perhaps hon. Members will give me their attention. The purpose of the Clause is fairly simple. There is a large number of people in Great Britain at the moment, very largely those in the employ of local authorities, who, under the Act of 1939, are—[Interruption.] May I have the attention of the Committee? Hon. Members are not obliged to listen; they can leave the Chamber.

The purpose of the Clause is this—and I am certain that if hon. Members opposite will listen, they will agree with its purpose because it removes a certain anomaly. There is a large number of men, and some women, in the employ of local authorities who, under the Act of 1939, are having their Service pay made up to the civilian rate. This continues at the present time, and would apply to those persons called up under the provisions of this Bill when it becomes an Act. This, we suggest, was a perfectly proper thing to do in time of war, but it seems to the Government that it is quite unreasonable that a certain section of the population should be so favoured that, when they are in the Services in time of peace, they should enjoy civilian rates of pay alongside other people getting merely Service pay. This is the anomaly which we want to bring to an end.

So long as the emergency continues, the present Statute applies, and I am advised that we cannot end the war emergency piecemeal. One has to amend the emergency ruling as a whole, and not in part. Therefore, in order that these persons may not enjoy this privilege above the other members of the community, we ask for this Clause which gives powers to enable local authorities to cease these payments which bring Service emoluments up to civilian rates. The time spent in the armed Services will be regarded as time counting for purposes of superannuation, and the law is not being amended in that respect.

It is such a rare and refreshing thing to get some realism, and common sense, and an expression of equal favour to everybody, from the Front Bench opposite, that I am so overcome with this sensibility as to welcome the words of the Minister of Health. In the past we have had men going into the Services with their pay made 'up to what they would have received in civilian life. I understand that that will no longer be the case. That is very sensible, very surprising, and I would like to support it.

What has been said by the right hon. Gentleman is something with which we fully agree. But I think that it would be in order if I asked at this stage for some enlightenment as to the position of civil servants. This Clause deals only with employees of local authorities.

I understand that it is not necessary to have an Act of Parliament determining the position of civil servants. That can be done by Departmental agreement.

11.30 p.m.

May I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the information he has given to the Committee? May I ask him, however, whether a decision has been reached regarding civil servants?

I can permit the hon. and gallant Member to ask a question, and allow the Minister to answer; but I am afraid I cannot allow discussions of that matter on this Clause.

I was really wishing to put a supplementary question arising out of the question which I had already put.

I can put the Committee in possession of the facts without difficulty. Discussions are taking place, but no decision has yet been reached regarding the date. It seems to us to be a perfectly equitable proposition that we should terminate the privileges for both classes at the same time, and that is why we are taking power to make the Order.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.