asked the Minister of Health what reply he has made to the request of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy for an independent inquiry into the salary structure of physiotherapists.
My right hon. Friend has informed the Society that he considers the present negotiating machinery is appropriate for settling the pay and conditions of service of physiotherapists in the National Health Service.
Is it not clear that the physiotherapists do not think so? Is the hon. Lady aware that they have no confidence that this machinery will look at the salary structure afresh in order, for example, to fix the appropriate rate for student teachers in physiotherapy, of whom there is a very acute shortage, leading to a very serious situation in the Health Service?
This negotiating machinery was set up with the agreement of both sides at the inception of the National Health Service. It has served this profession and other comparable professions in the Service. I think that there is a claim in for increases for physiotherapist teachers.
Is the hon. Lady aware that there is growing discontent amongst chartered physiotherapists about their salary scales? Cannot something be done to expedite this matter?
There was an increase in salary effective from 1st January, 1961, of 5 per cent. for this profession and other allied professions.
Is the hon. Lady aware that the increase to which she has referred was negotiated specifically without prejudice to the right of the staff concerned to ask for a re-examination of the negotiating machinery? Does she not recollect that when there was similar discontent among clerical staffs some years ago the Minister set up a Committee under Sir Noel Hall which did a great deal to offset criticism?
I see no reason for assuming that the present machinery is not adequate. I do not think that we could take physiotherapists in isolation, because there are other similar ancillary services in the National Health Service.