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Armed Forces (Pay And Conditions)

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 5 April 1949

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asked the Prime Minister if he will appoint an all-party committee to report on pay and conditions in the three Fighting Services and make recommendations thereon.

I have been asked to reply. No, Sir. I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave to my hon. Friend the Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Cooper) in answer to a Question on Thursday, 31st March, 1949.

Why does the Prime Minister object to this proposal in view of the fact that the pay of doctors, teachers, police officers and others has been considered by outside bodies?

But this proposal is to appoint an all-party committee which presumably would be in the nature of a Select Committee, and we took the view that that would be contrary to good Parliamentary doctrine, whereby the initiative for public expenditure should rest with the Executive of the day.

If the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to accept this particular suggestion, are the Government using some other means to inquire into the situation, which, as revealed in recent Debates, was considered unsatisfactory on all sides of the House.

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, we are frequently looking into these matters, but there are a variety of matters to take into account relative to it and it is thought that that is best done by the Government of the day.

It is always being done, but if the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the Government can be pressed every week to increase expenditure he might remember that the taxpayer has to be considered as well.

Reverting to the original answer, have not the Government departed from this principle in the instances which I gave?

No, Sir, because the principle the hon. Gentleman is laying down is that a recommendation as to public expenditure should be made by a Select Committee of Parliament, and that, with great respect, I do not think is a good principle.