I beg to move—
I must ask the House for quietness. Order.
I beg to move,
That the Judicial Offices (Salaries) Order, 1966, a draft of which was laid before this House on 21st April, be approved.
Order, I must ask the House to allow the proceedings to go in quietness.
The procedure for increasing judicial salaries by Order stems from Section 1(4) of the Judicial Offices, Salaries and Pensions Act, 1957, and, therefore—if anyone in this tumult is interested in learning that important fact—
On a point of order. As some of us wish to oppose this Order, may I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to ask hon. Members at the Bar to keep quiet, [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Some of us are trying to listen because we are interested.
I must ask the House to preserve a little more order so that the Attorney-General can be heard.
I am most grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As I was saying when I was noisily disturbed in my process of explaining, this procedure for increases in judicial salaries by means of an Order arises from the Judicial Offices (Salaries and Pensions) Act, 1957. That provides that if it appears to the Lord Chancellor that any of the salaries concerned ought to be increased, he may, with the consent of the Treasury, make an Order accordingly, provided that a draft of the Order has been laid before Parliament and approved by Resolution of each House.Those whose salaries are affected by this Order are the Recorders of Manchester and Liverpool, the County Court Judges, and the Metropolitan Magistrates.
On a point of order. Hon. Members on this side of the House are having great difficulty in hearing what my right hon. and learned Friend is saying.
I am sure that the whole House is finding it difficult to hear what the Attorney-General is saying. I must appeal to the House to observe quietness.
Those whose salaries are affected by this Order are the Recorders of Manchester and Liverpool, the county court judges, and the Metropolitan magistrates. For many years successive Governments have taken the view that those considerations which should be taken into account in determining the remuneration of these judicial officers are the same as those which govern increases in the remuneration of the higher Civil Service.As the House knows, the remuneration of the higher Civil Service is periodically examined by the Franks Committee. This Committee reports with recommendations, and the normal procedure has been for Governments to accept—[Interruption.]
Order. I must ask the House to observe more quietness so that we can listen to the Attorney-General. Will hon. Members at the Bar pleace cease from conversation so that those in the House can hear the Attorney-General's speech?
It really is regrettable that hon. Members beyond the Bar are paying no attention to appeals from the Chair.
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is it not within your power to ask the Serjeant at Arms to carry out your instructions?
I hope that that will not be necessary, and I hope also that it will not be necessary to ask hon. Members beyond the Bar either to leave the House or to remain quiet so that those in the House can hear the Attorney-General.
As I was endeavouring to explain to the House, the remuneration of the higher Civil Service, to which the salaries of the minor judiciary are linked, is periodically examined by the Franks Committee. This Committee reports with recommendations, and the normal procedure is for Governments to accept those recommendations. Then, the salaries for the higher Civil Service having been provided for, the normal practice has been for the Lord Chancellor, with the approval of the Treasury, to provide for those judicial officers increases exactly proportionate to those granted to the higher Civil Service.But in this instance the Government did not follow the normal course because they did not at first accept the recommendations of the Franks Committee in regard to the remuneration of the higher Civil Service. Instead, the recommendations were referred to the Prices and Incomes Board. The purpose of doing that was to ensure that the proposed salaries were in accordance with the Government's prices and incomes policy. In due course, after considering the matter, the Prices and Incomes Board reported that the proposed increases were in conformity with that policy, and accordingly the Government then implemented the recommendations of the Franks Committee as approved by the Prices and Incomes Board. This Order flows from that decision and provides for increases for the county court judges, recorders and Metropolitan magistrates, precisely proportionate to the increases granted to the higher civil service. The mean annual rate of increase provided for in the Order is 3½ per cent., which is consistent with the incomes policy norm. There is only one difference between the position of the higher civil service and that of these judicial officers. The increase in the salaries of the civil service was made retrospective to about the date of the Franks Committee Report, that is to say, to 1st September, 1965. The increases proposed in the Order are made to take effect from the date on which the Order is approved, assuming, of course, that it receives the approval of the House. The Order was before another place last Thursday and received the approval of that House. It now falls for consideration by the House of Commons for its approval in turn. The increases in salaries effected by the Order are as follows. The salaries of the Recorders of the Crown Courts of Liverpool and Manchester, who are the only Recorders whose salaries are affected, are increased from £6,150 to £6,650 a year. The salaries of the County Court Judges, of whom there are at present 84—although it is proposed to appoint one additional county court judge—are increased from £5,300 to £5,775 a year. The salary of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, whose salary has for some time been the same as that of a county count judge, has also been increased to the same extent as that of the county court judges. Finally, the salaries of the other Metropolitan magistrates, of whom there are 35, have been increased from £4,750 to £5,300 a year. The total cost of the increases, taking into account the appointment of the additional county court judge, will be £60,900 a year. That is the purpose of the Order. I should like, in conclusion, to pay a tribute to the judicial officers with whom the Order is concerned for the high standards which they maintain in their courts. I venture to doubt whether their standing and reputation have ever been higher or whether the burdens imposed upon them have ever been heavier.
I had hoped, before my right hon. and learned Friend sat down, to be told what this means in terms of percentage increases. I was delayed in coming into the Chamber.
Even if he had not been delayed, my hon. Friend might not have heard all I said, but the norm for all the officers is 3½ per cent. However, if my hon. Friend wishes a breakdown of the figures, perhaps I will have an opportunity of addressing the House again.
At least we can assure the representatives of the Patronage Secretary—who himself is not here—that this business is exempted business and that therefore the Attorney-General need not Worry: we can go on discussing this business without fear of any delay or of any time being cut short by the procedures of the House.It was only 30 months ago that I, from that same Dispatch Box, was introducing a Motion in similar terms to increase the salaries of the two recorders, the county court judges and the Metropolitan magistrates. On that occasion we had only 35 minutes of debate, but it was a debate in which some of the right horn and learned Gentleman's present colleagues took part—the Minister of Transport, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Paymaster-General. They are not in their places this evening. They made some objection at that time, and doubtless other hon. Members will wish to make similar objections tonight. Presumably those right hon. Gentlemen support the Attorney-General in the Motion. It shows how different things look when one is in office from when one is on the other side of the hill. Moreover, on the last occasion, objection was made by some hon. Members that the Order had first been introduced into another place instead of being introduced into this House. I understand that this Order was first introduced into the House of Lords and that it comes to us after being discussed in another place last Thursday. I make no complaint of that. I justified it at the time, and I think that it is right that it should be done. I merely comment that some hon. Members opposite on that occasion objected.
May I remind the right hon. and learned Member that on that occasion the Opposition did not oppose the Order?
Some of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Friends at that time spoke very critically about the Order and about the procedure. I well understand it. But it is a perfectly sensible procedure. No doubt the reason for this Order is the increased cost of everything since the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Friends have been in office.It is a sensible Order, because these people are doing important and responsible work. I recollect figures which I was able to give the House in 1962. The Recorders of Manchester and Liverpool dealt with 1,800 cases in 1962. The county court judges dealt with 20,000 civil actions in county court cases and the Metropolitan magistrates dealt with 83,000 charges and about 200,000 summonses.
Why is the right hon. and learned Gentleman giving these figures?
I am sure that the hon. Member will have an opportunity of taking part in the debate. [Interruption.]
Order. The House cannot debate by noises.
These officers have very responsible and important jobs to carry out and there is no doubt of the great increase in their work. As the Attorney-General said, I do not think that anyone who has any experience of these courts would say that the character and quality of these judicial officers compared in any way with those of many years ago. We are now attracting to the county court bench and to the Metropolitan magistrates men of quality and distinction, carrying out these important and responsible tasks, and it is sensible that to that extent and to maintain that quality we must have a salary scale which is appropriate. These are the courts which bear the brunt of most of the administration of justice by professional officers. The county courts provide the most accessible and the cheapest justice, and it is to the county courts that most civil litigants in the small cases have to apply for the administration of justice.
How many people have refused to take these jobs? Is there a shortage of applicants? When have any gone on strike because the salaries were bad?
The hon. Member must address these questions to the Attorney-General. If he is asking for my personal opinion, there were probably some who refused when the salary scale was not appropriate to the responsibilities of the office. All I am suggesting is that we should see whether this is an appropriate scale for a particular job.
I will not give way.
Those who perform this responsible task are entitled to a sensible salary. This is being increased by the Order, and I presume that the scale will remain until 1969. It certainly should do so. It provides a responsible salary for men doing a responsible job.It is one of the great strengths of our judicial system that it is comprised of men who are independent of politics and who have good and sensible salaries. This must be so if we are to maintain the high standard of justice which we have been able to establish in this country. The attitude of society to the administration of justice must be reflected in the salaries which are paid. The administration of justice being of paramount importance, it is only right that we should attract men of responsibility and give them salaries which are equivalent to the power they wield. Upon examining these proposals, I support the Motion, although it will be interesting to listen to what some hon. Gentlemen opposite may have to say in criticism of it. Generally speaking, these proposals seem to be sensible and responsible and I therefore advise my hon. Friends, at this stage of the debate at any rate, to support the Motion.
I was not a bit surprised that we got the sort of speech we had from the right hon. and learned Member for Epsom (Sir P. Rawlinson). I have been in the House for a relatively short time, coming up for 21 years, and I have never known an occasion, whichever party was in power, when the lawyers in their closed shop on both sides of the House did not unanimously support one another.The seamen, engineers, bricklayers, carpenters and any body of manual workers can put up whatever arguments they like for some extra money, but Governments—particularly hon. Gentlemen opposite but probably many of my hon. and right hon. Friends as well—will always find good reasons why the time is not opportune and why economic conditions do not permit these men to have a few more pounds a week. However, when the lawyers, judges and other members of the legal profession want an increase, good excuses can always be found for them to have an extra £500 or £600 a year. I do not represent Liverpool or Manchester. My only interest in this subject is that some time ago I opposed a similar Motion concerning judges' salaries. I am opposing this one because we are told that at present the seamen, who also do an important job and who have great skill and ability, cannot have a few extra pounds a week. The seamen are told that they must not rock the boat or upset the Government, although the lawyers can do this if they like. The right hon. and learned Member for Epsom said that the increase we are considering represents a rise of 3½ per cent. When one is earning £5,000 or £6,000 a year 3½ per cent. means something. But if one is earning £8 to £10 a week 3½ per cent. means relatively little [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may laugh, but I defy them to keep a wife and family on £10 a week, particularly if, as a result of the Tory Rent Act, one's rent has gone up by at least 5 per cent. or 6 per cent., if it has not even doubled. But we can always find nearly £600 a year more for the legal profession. If this were a once-and-for-all increase we might be able to accept it, but the right hon. and learned Member for Epsom, a former Solicitor-General or Attorney-General—I forget which, but it does not matter because in the legal profession they all speak with one voice on this subject—said that this increase would last for another 13 months. It therefore seems that another increase is already on the stocks for 13 months' time.
I said that 30 months ago I introduced a similar Order and I presume that this Order will stay in existence until 1969.
I find that even the legal profession can jump to the bait. It was only 13 months ago that the right hon. and learned Gentleman gave an increase—[HON. MEMBERS: "Thirty"]—
Order. We cannot debate this issue by shouting across the Floor of the House.
It was 30 months ago that these gentlemen had an increase of from £400 to £550. The seamen would settle their strike tomorrow if they could be promised an increase of £400 to £550 a year on condition that it would stand for 30 months, until 1969. We find in this House one method of settling wages and salary scales for one group of professional workers, in this case the legal profession, and another for those who are not in the professional classes.
When the hon. Member suggests that it is said this is all right for lawyers, does he recall that he and his party thought it was all right for Members of Parliament?
I expected that one. I appreciate and pay tribute to the fact that it was the Tory Government which set up the original Committee of Inquiry, and the 1922 Committee—[Interruption.]
Order. I hope that the hon. Member will use his discretion and will not allow himself to be tempted to debate other matters on this Motion.
We are not allowed to debate other things, but we are entitled to use as an analogy wages and salaries received by other groups of workers and to see whether or not this is a reasonable and fair increase. I believe it unreasonable at this juncture to say that we should pay between £400 and £550 a year increase to persons who are already receiving between £5,000 and £6,000 a year. The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers) interjected something which, I agree, Mr. Speaker, was quite extraneous, but I had to point out that it was the Tories who started that hare running and the two parties who carried it on. In this instance, I do not see that we should carry it on.I do not remember reading in any part of the election manifesto, in the 1964 election or in the recent election manifesto "Time for Decision", any reference to the giving of these increases. We were told that we would put into the party manifesto and programme the policy of the Labour Party if that party got back to power. I must confess that I had not had time to look at the printed document, but I have looked at the typewritten copy in the House of Commons Library. I could not find a reference to the fact that we would go out of our way in the first few months of office to increase the salaries of these gentlemen. We said that we would improve conditions of service in hospitals. Up to date, with the exception of the doctors, it is rather strange that attention has not been given to those working in hospitals, nurses, ward orderlies and those who do the menial tasks in hospitals. The doctors have immediately got a recommendation agreed to. I find no reference to this in any document or speech by the Prime Minister or any other Minister downwards during the election period. I want to know what is the urgency for this proposal. Has the Attorney-General any evidence that there will be a strike amongst these learned judges? Can he tell us that if they do not get this meagre increase there is a danger that they might come out on strike? Can he tell us whether their trade union has given notice to the appropriate negotiating body that unless this money is paid to them there will be resignations from the service? I do not know, because I do not know how the legal fraternity work. All I know is that if it is a trade union case, the people have to go through a long rigmarole of procedure. From the time they put in their application till the stage is reached where there is a negotiated settlement, years go by very often. By the time they get the recommendation it is out of date because prices have risen, and then they have to go to arbitration, and the arbitration court invariably is already loaded to give the sort of decision which the Government, irrespective of their political complexion, want. This has been going on for years, and I want to know why we are now being asked to rush this Order through. I certainly will not support it, and if there is a Division I shall vote against it.
I listened very carefully to my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and to the Opposition Front Bench spokesman. I think the point which has been made, that judges must be free from political influence, is perfectly right. No one in his right senses would quarrel with that argument. It is a perfectly justifiable proposition.But we are not here considering this particular aspect of the argument. I cannot get away from the fact that at the moment there are 65,000 seamen also holding responsible jobs, who do a first-class job for this nation, who are having to go on strike and impair the economy of this country in order to get an increase in their wages. We heard the Prime Minister speak last night when he made the point that the seamen had a first-class case. Yet at the same time we were told that the seamen were endangering the prices and incomes policy. The next day we are here in this Chamber discussing an increase of £400 per annum—£8 per week—for the Recorders of Liverpool and Manchester. I have heard that he deals with a great number of cases. Is his salary increase based on his productivity? Is that the point? Of course, it is not. What is the situation? In 1957 the salary of the Recorders of Liverpool and Manchester was £4,500. In 1963 it went up to £6,150. Now it is to go up to £6,550—an actual jump of 6½ per cent. If one takes it over the years one can say that it is within the Government's norm it is only just over 2 per cent. a year. But what does that mean in relation to that sort of salary? As my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) pointed out, if one is drawing, as the seamen are, £15 a week for a 56 hour week—5s. 4½d per hour—and all they are asking for is 7s. per hour—and most workers in industry get that at the moment—there is no comparison in relation to this question of percentages. How can we have one yardstick for the judges and another for the poorer people, the seamen, the workers in industry? If this policy is to apply, it must apply equally. If this means that the seamen are endangering the country's economy, so are the doctors who receive £1,000 over two years—and grumble about it—and so are these recorders. This is the point which we ought seriously to be discussing tonight. I am not asking that there should not be an increase in salary at a later stage. I know it is said that the question has been before the Prices and Incomes Board and the Board is quite satisfied. All right. It may be satisfied. But I am not, and I am quite certain that the workers of Liverpool, the seamen on strike, the dockers struggling for a living wage, the building workers who work out in the rain, cold and snow, will not be satisfied by that sort of argument. This is why I ask the House seriously and as passionately as I can to direct the Government to defer this Order. Let us have a longer time. Let us get the strike settled for the seamen first. Let the workers themselves see that we are really carrying out a policy which is equal to all. That is my plea, and I ask the House to reject the Order as it comes before them now.
What astounds me about this case, as it did with the doctors' increase, the judges' increase, the senior civil servants' increase and Forces pay, is that hon. Members opposite not only acknowledge that these increases are necessary but they jump forward with alacrity to support and advocate them, shouting down any Member on this side who dares to criticise. [Interruption.] I hear hon. Members opposite muttering, but they interrupted me and stopped me twice when I was asking the Prime Minister a question about the doctors' increase. My hon. Friends will remember it very well.Why do hon. Members have a double standard on this issue, regarding claims by railwaymen, dockers and seamen as not in the national interest and, therefore, to be opposed? The Government's prices and incomes policy is on trial. It is on trial in the country now. It will be judged on whether or not it will work and whether it will be acceptable by the manner in which the Government carry it out. If it is right, if a 3½ per cent. increase is justifiable, and this is brought forward tonight for Recorders and lawyers, then the Government have no right to stand in the way of other claims and they ought to be saying to the ship owners that they must come forward and take positive steps to bring the other dispute to an end. I remember the occasion when my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) brought in a Bill concerning incomes of the higher income groups. He moved its Second Reading in a brilliant speech and the House devoted a whole Friday's debate to it. But it was not accepted by the Government. In consequence, the prices and incomes policy is seen to be running at two levels. If the Government want to see a justifiable prices and incomes policy acceptable to the country, they cannot afford to have double standards on the issue. We are debating a basic principle by which the people will judge the prices and incomes policy. As a trade unionist. I know what the reaction will be to this type of increase. The feeling will develop that there is one policy for one group of people and another policy for another group. It will be a genuine feeling, particularly among people like the seamen, on a basic wage of £14 a week, the skilled engineers on £14 a week, the building workers on £11 to £12 a week and the railwaymen on £9 to £10 a week. These people will find it difficult to accept that the 3½ per cent. norm applies fairly, because there is a great difference between 3½ per cent. of £10 a week and 3½ per cent. of £6,000 a year. We do not accept that the current basis is the correct one on which to work from now onwards. It is not accepted as necessarily fair and equitable with the present level of wages and salaries in industry. People are not prepared to accept that these lawyers should receive such an increase in contrast to the treatment of large sections of the community who are the backbone of the nation and who produce the goods for export. We in this country are very good at hypocrisy. I remember what the Press and the people had to say about the merchant seamen during the war. I remember the famous cartoons in the Daily Mirror when the seamen were keeping our lifeline open. Contrast that with the editorial in the Daily Mirror two days ago, which was an absolute disgrace.
Order. The hon. Gentleman can attack the increase proposed in this Order. He cannot talk about the Merchant Navy except in support of his attack on the proposal in the Order.
I accept the point, Mr. Speaker, and that I have gone rather wide of the mark. I was trying to show that there is a definite relationship between the prices and incomes policy and this proposal.Our protest tonight is not a niggling protest against lawyers. I can poke fun at the lawyers as easily as anyone else. They have the best trade union in the world.
And the best restrictive practices.
The day may come when we might tackle the lawyers as a separate entity, but this is not the occasion. There are some members on this side of the House who feel very strongly about this. At present we have a national, official strike of a trade union affiliated to the Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress. This pulls at our heartstrings and we feel exceedingly strongly about it. We would not be doing the issue justice if we let it pass without comment and without making our views known. It is not a question of attacking the professions of the doctors or lawyers; It is a case of saying that if we do not have a basis of justice for incomes, we are not going to achieve a basis for any policy, and the Government must take note of this.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, in his explanation to the House of this Order, and the reasons for it, used as one of the justifications for it that it had been tested to see whether it fell within the framework of the Government's incomes policy and said that: it had been found to do so. I want to try to understand, because up to now I do not, what sort of criteria are applied when a test of this sort is made. By what criteria, by what weighing of what pros and cons against one another, are we asked to believe that this Order is within the framework of the Government's incomes policy?Certainly my right hon. and learned Friend adduced no argument in that direction. He merely said that the Prices and Incomes Board had looked at it and it says it is all right, so all we ignorant chaps here ought to be prepared to accept it. The Gods on Olympus have said that it is all right. I look upon my part here, and I am sure that this is the view of hon. Members on all sides of the House, as being something a bit bigger than that. It is not just to accept any divine oracle that comes down from the Prices and Incomes Board, but to try to understand the thing for myself. As I understand it, the prices and incomes policy is based on the concept broadly speaking of a norm, fixed at around 3½ per cent., because that fits in with the estimated increase in the growth of the national income over a period. But my right hon. Friends have said over and over again that it does not mean that this figure, or any other figure, must be rigidly applied to any group of people and to their earnings. It is said that it is merely a guiding light and that against the background of that guiding light many variations may occur, because there are all sorts of factors to be taken into account. One factor is the difficulty of recruiting people for essential trades or professions when recruitment is falling off. It was one of the great arguments used in the case of the doctors, that not enough people were coming forward to be trained, and that many of those who were, once they had been trained, were going to serve in other parts of the world. This is the scarcity factor entering into calculations to influence the norm, the factor of supply and demand. Does that factor apply to these learned gentlemen who are the subject of the Order? Is my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General having enormous difficulty in recruiting people for these recorderships and the other posts? If he is, it is the first time in history that it has happened. We are told, however, that there are other criteria which can result in acceptable and justifiable deviations from the crude figure of the guiding light. One is that people are entitled to get well above that figure on the grounds of productivity. Are we being told that that is the criterion in this case which induced the Prices and Incomes Board to arrive at this finding? I do not think that my right hon. and learned Friend is trying to tell us that. A yet more important factor which, we are told, is taken into account in assessing the justification or otherwise of wage claims on behalf of particular groups of persons is that one may—indeed, one should—depart from the guiding light to correct anomalies. That must be so. One of the things that most makes me object to people talking about this as being O.K. because it is on the law is the simple fact that if everybody is to have his income allowed to go up at the same percentage rate, that can only be socially just and can only be justifiable in human terms if we start with the assumption that the present distribution of wages and salaries is approximately just. If the present distribution is not just, clearly a single percentage increase universally applied across the board does nothing more than perpetuate the injustices. Does anyone seriously argue that the distribution of wages and salaries in our community is just? Does anyone seriously argue that a nurse, for example, is equally well or equally badly paid in regard to her vocation as, say, the man who calculates the odds in a betting shop or the man who calculates the odds in a stockbroker's office, which is more or less the same occupation but a slightly different amenity? Is the distribution of their salaries just?
Order. This is fascinating to the Chair, but the hon. Member must link his argument with the proposals in the Order.
I set out not to be fascinating, Mr. Speaker, but to be relevant. I have no pretensions in that direction. It was my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General who made the argument that this increase is 3½ per cent. per annum and, therefore, in line with the incomes policy. It seems to me that that argument is tenable only if the incomes policy with which it is in line is equally applicable round the scale. If what I am saying is out of order, what my right hon. and learned Friend said was out of order, because as soon as he used the figure of 3½ per cent. he ranged in comparison over the ranges of incomes.I will, however, come a bit closer and talk about the actual figures in the Order. Clearly, the major exception which was provided by those who thought this policy out was that it should be used to correct those disparities where the gaps are widest. Here I am making, in a sense, the same point which my hon. Friends have made, namely, that 3½ per cent. on £5,000 a year is a different cup of tea from 3½ per cent. on £600 or £700 a year. We really cannot say we are carrying out an equitable and sensible incomes policy, and we really cannot justify this Order in the terms in which my right hon. and learned Friend justified it, if we take it for granted, as he appeared to take it for granted, that one ought not to differentiate between a percentage increase on a high income and the same percentage increase applied to a low income. Of course my hon. Friends are right in saying that this Order, brought in tonight within hours of the Government saying to the seamen, "You must give way"—because that is in fact what they said to the seamen—will be utterly incomprehensible right through the country. If this Order passed in this House tonight without protest the country would think this House was off its rocker at this time. [Interruption.] I did not steal the words of my right hon. Friend. I do not want to deprive him of them. Really, it just will not be understood by millions of people in the country, including millions of people who voted this Government into office a little while ago, believing they stood for social justice. All comparisons are odious, but an incomes policy applied in the holus-bolus way this one is being applied begs constant and odious comparisons. The seamen who are on strike are on strike because they want a shorter working week for the money they are getting, and they are told they cannot have a 40 hour week. I wonder if my right hon. and learned Friend, who told us he may be speaking again, would be good enough to tell us what is the working week of these gentlemen now being given more money. Is it more than the 56 hours the seamen are required to work, or is it less than 56 hours? Is it more than 40 hours which they are working, or is it less than 40 hours they are seeking? Will he be good enough to tell us how many hours a week the courts in which these recorders work sit, and for how many weeks in the year? And will he do a bit of arithmetic for us and tell us what sort of average working week that is? And why it is that for that working week they can get another tenner a week and the seamen cannot get a reduction from a 56 hour week? And when he has done all that, will he tell me, for when I go to Poplar tomorrow morning and have a look at the docks and have to explain to my constituents, who are so vitally concerned, what all this is about? How can we justify it? In heaven's name, what is the common sense of this? Never mind about the legality and the hair splitting, what is the common sense of this? And how can the Government expect, and give themselves the right to demand, acceptance of an incomes policy when they affront simple common sense in the way in which, in these last 48 hours, in the juxtaposition of their attitude to the seamen and their introduction of this Order, they have so blatantly done?
When my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) referred to the right hon. and learned Member for Epsom (Sir P. Rawlinson) and asked how it came about that he was taking the same line as the Government were on this matter with such enthusiasm, the obvious reply was that both the right hon. and learned Member for Epsom and my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General are members of the same trade union and act like good and loyal members of the same trade union in supporting their case.This is not the only occasion on which the House has seen this powerful trade union in operation, and there is another very powerful member of the union, the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), waiting in reserve to bring his heavy weight into the debate in support of this claim—
Not such a heavyweight as the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis).
—yet the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not find it too difficult to write a rousing article in the Sunday Express not very long ago opposing the seamen's claim and demanding that all the powers of the State should be thrown in to see that they did not win their case. Tonight, however, he is ready to stand up for his union to support this increase.My right hon. and learned Friend, on whom falls the duty of introducing these Orders for large increases in the salaries of Her Majesty's judges, recorders, and other officers of the law, speaks for the Cabinet as a whole, but, none the less, we would be well advised to spend a few moments looking at the way in which these increases are normally negotiated. In the last Parliament, when we were being asked to vote a large increase to Her Majesty's judges, there was a most interesting exchange in a rather long debate about the genesis of that increase. Hon. Members who were here then will recall that at the end of the debate it emerged—and the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) made an interesting revelation in this respect—that the increase had been decided upon by the Conservative Government who had been in office before the 1964 General Election, and the commitment had automatically been taken over by the Labour Government who were elected in 1964. So powerful is this trade union that its decisions last from one Parliament to the next, and from one Government to the next, regardless of which party happens to be in power. This is not the way in which the National Union of Seamen can develop its claim and put it before the nation. It does not have these powerful friends at court who, while members of one Government, make a decision which is found to be binding on my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and his colleagues in the next one. It is therefore right, in my judgment, to look very closely at the genesis of this increase. When we do so, we find that there is something quite automatic about the increases which are being awarded to the higher Civil Service and to members of other professions, with the result that when my right hon. and learned Friend presents the case for this increase he is able to point to similar increases and say, by implication, that if these other things have happened this increase must be voted tonight. Several hon. Members have asked the Attorney-General about the timing of this increase. I invite him to tell us whether, before he accepted the instruction to speak to this Order tonight, he had any consultations with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour on whether this was the best time to introduce this Order, bearing in mind the need to defend the Government's prices and incomes policy. If there was this consultation, what was the view of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour? In many ways, the crux of the matter is this. What is likely to be the greatest obstacle to the Government's prices and incomes policy? Anybody who knows our industrial relations and the basic attitude of trade unionists will know that over the years any Government—not just this Government: hon. Members opposite who know about industrial relations will agree with this conclusion—who have tried to introduce a prices and incomes policy have always been defeated by the rock of suspicion among trade unionists that, in the end, it will be a wage restraint policy applying only to manual workers and salaried workers in the lower income group and to no one else. Many industrialists will have to agree with the conclusion that this was the rock of suspicion upon which any attempt to introduce a prices and incomes policy has always founded in the past. We are tonight in the midst of a situation in which 62,000 members of the National Union of Seamen are fighting for a modest increase which would at the most amount to £2 a week, and they are doing it in an atmosphere in which they are told—quite wrongly, in my opinion—that their decision to take perfectly legal industrial action in support of their claim, which is an official one, is an act against the State and dangerous to the incomes policy. The judgment that any normal industrial claim is ipso facto to be an act against the State has vast consequences which can be seen by anyone with two minutes to think about it. The relevant point which I should like to put on record is that it is the same Prime Minister and the same Cabinet who have said authoritatively this week that the strike of the National Union of Seamen in support of their modest claim is an act against the State and the policy of the State who ask the House tonight to pass this increase immediately into law. What is the logic—
What are you going to do about it?
I will tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman the answer to that question when I reach that point in my speech. He will have to defend his attitude in the newspapers in his speech.The crux of the matter is that there will be no belief in the Government's incomes policy when the demand to the House to pass this Order occurs in the same week that the claim of the National Union of Seamen is being resisted. The obstacle to a prices and incomes policy in the future, as in the past, will always be that when the Trades Union Congress go to the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs their main point to him, as on all recent occasions, will be an insistence that dividends and all sorts of other incomes should be included in the prices and incomes policy. That is the burden of all the demands which have recently been submitted by the Trades Union Congress on behalf of all their member unions to the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs. How can there be any belief among trade unionists if first of all there is no evidence that dividends will be included and in the very same week that the seamen are making their demands the Government come forward with this Order? There is one other aspect which is very serious—
There is one factor which my hon. Friend has not entered into in his argument. That is that the seamen may withdraw their labour, but the Navy may come in to operate instead of them.
As always, my hon. Friend is highly perceptive and brings in additional arguments, but on this occasion I would like to leave that argument to him.There is one additional, very serious aspect of the matter on which my right hon. and learned Friend touched by implication. He told us that the 3½ per cent. applied strictly to these increases. Here there is a parallel case. It has been found convenient to arrange matters in such a way that the increase is spread over a period in a satisfactory fashion for these Recorders and other law officers involved. But what seems the hopeful line of solution in the conflict between the National Union of Seamen and their employers? It is on record that if the Government were now to put pressure upon the employers, who are partners with the National Union of Seamen in this dispute, to offer that the increase might be spread over two years instead of three years, with some slight improvement introduced in the immediate position, we might have a solution. In this Order the spreading over of the increase has been most carefully considered. Knowing from past experience how these matters are handled for the judges, there is every certainty that there is agreement here on the part of the officers of the law concerned. In the last debate when the last increases for the judges were introduced by my right hon. and learned Friend, examples were given by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) of how Her Majesty's judges acted on a previous occasion when they were asked to take part in a renunciation, a reduction, of 5 per cent. of their salaries during a major economic crisis. They threatened to go on strike and to take all sorts of action. They had deputations to the Law Officers.
Order. This is a matter of history. The hon. Member must get back to the Order.
With great respect, this is one of those rare occasions, Mr. Speaker, on which I should like your permission merely to recall that the history of this case as produced by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West was regarded as strictly relevant when a similar Order was introduced.
What the hon. Member for Oldham, West said with regard to another Order may have been relevant to that Order, but history is not relevant to this Order.
If history is not relevant, I hope that the conclusion will be relevant. In the previous increase in salaries for judges, great care was taken to reach agreement in advance with the judges involved. I therefore draw my conclusion that great care has been taken on this occasion to reach agreement with the officers of the law involved in this Order. At a time when it is argued that nothing much more can be done immediately to find a hopeful solution to the conflict in which the National Union of Seamen are engaged, where is the sense of insisting that this Order must be introduced tonight?
Would the hon. Member tell the House which date he thinks would be appropriate for the introduction of this Order—that is, if he takes the view that it should ever be introduced? Maybe he does not. No one on the opposite benches has made this clear.
The hon. and learned Member has helped me in my concluding argument. After all the efforts have been made to get negotiations reopened between the employers and the National Union of Seamen, after an improved offer has been made by the employers on the insistence of the Government, and after an agreement with the National Union of Seamen has been concluded, then this Order might be introduced for debate.
This Order gives us an opportunity to express a general view of the Government's incomes policy as it seems to affect specific social groups in society. I believe that there is not only a need for an incomes policy in Britain, but I regard the establishment of the Prices and Incomes Board as the greatest single development in the British economy since the war.I begin on the assumption that I want to see a successful prices and incomes policy carried into effect. It is, therefore, with considerable dismay and with a measure of regret that I find the Government acting in such a ham-handed manner when they come to deal with a wide variety of wage and salary adjustments. It is necessary tonight to look at the fundamentals of an incomes policy. We have experienced during the past five or so years successive endeavours to build up such a policy. In a sense, anyone can have a shot at doing this, but the important thing is that an incomes policy, to be successful, must contain certain basic ingredients. First, the policy in itself must be comprehensive. It must be concerned with all incomes in society and not merely with wages or salaries. It must cover all incomes from all sources—and notably, in this case, incomes from sources which seem to be untouched by the present incomes policy. My hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) referred to incomes from sources derived from rent, interest and profit. Hon. Members will have noted the Written Answer which I received yesterday from my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which he set out clearly the pattern of wage, salary and unearned income distribution in Britain since the war. They will also have noted that there has been very little improvement in the past 10 years. In fact, the proportion of income in respect of rent, interest and profit in 1965 was fractionally higher than 10 years before. This is a serious state of affairs, because it indicates that successive endeavours to build up a comprehensive incomes policy in the last five years have left this vitally important source of income completely untouched. Secondly, there is the need for a different sort of incomes policy under a Labour Government. This means, simply, that the policy must be a socially just one. It must be seen by all sections of the community to have a relevance to the country's economic needs and it must react fairly on particular circumstances. Thirdly, and this applies especially to the policy of the Prices and Incomes Board, we must regard—
Order. The hon. Member must relate his remarks to the Order.
I will endeavour to do so, Mr. Deputy Speaker.The third aspect I wish to raise is the need to relate an Order of this nature to the social value of the work being performed. This is, basically, the only sort of rational, defensible attitude on incomes that can succeed. To talk of a norm of 3½ per cent. has been shown, especially recently, to be completely and utterly illogical and indefensible. If one approaches an incomes policy from this general background—namely, that the policy must be comprehensive, socially just and have a relationship to the social value of the work being performed, in this and in every other case—there is then every likelihood of the policy being accepted. But what is happening today in British society? We find that there are a number of different rules being made for different social groups. My hon. Friend the Member for Penistone drew attention to the fact that unearned income appears to be completely disregarded. He pointed, as have others, to the situation in which certain important social groups, such as doctors and those covered by this Order, are given special consideration which does not seem to apply to employees of the railways or at sea. Much of the resentment expressed from these benches this evening has not been merely about the timing of this Order but about the whole attitude towards this policy. It seems illogical and wrong that we cannot develop a policy which is fair to seamen and railwaymen and also to doctors and those covered by this Order. The conclusion which we must draw is that in the light of present circumstances it would be very wrong of this Government to go ahead and to ask the House to agree to this Order. If we do so the people will see that there are different sorts of incomes policy. If, for example, one is a doctor and pursues a militant attitude towards a salary claim and if one's association has 18,000 resignations from doctors—
It is a long time in my recollection since the hon. Member mentioned judges' salaries. I hope that he will come back to the matter in hand.
I beg your pardon again, Mr. Deputy Speaker. On the question of judges' salaries, it would be very wrong to go ahead with the implementation of these increases on this occasion. I strongly support the rule of law in this country and I want to see judges properly paid, but at a time when we have a serious industrial dispute in Britain and the Merchant Navy officially on strike—we are told against the State—and every likelihood of that stoppage unfortunately extending, it seems indefensible and wrong to proceed with the implementation of this draft statutory instrument.The attitude of mind which has grown up in recent weeks by which it is laid down that workpeople, and workpeople alone, should be held responsible for critical industrial situations—
The hon. Member has offered to come back to the subject of judges' salaries. He has not done so yet. I must insist.
I can only conclude by saying that on this occasion within the limits of my experience in this House I have made my views on this draft Statutory Instrument abundantly clear. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will think again and take back to the Cabinet the views so frequently expressed in this debate.
I do not want it to be thought, despite the speech of the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson), that I am challenging, in weight at any rate, the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis). It might indeed be thought indecent and inappropriate for a representative on these benches to intervene at all in what has become an intimate internal dispute on the benches opposite. We have heard of the rivalry between what I am told is now called the old Left and the new Left, the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) and the hon. Member for Penistone vying for the leadership of the true Left, whatever it may be. It would be a poor service on my part at this late hour if I were to try to judge between them.We have heard a great deal about sincerity in the speeches from below the Gangway. Even passion has been mentioned at least twice.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman should know about that.
The last thing that I would do would be to charge hon. Members below the Gangway with conscious insincerity in this matter. The hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) said that there is one thing that we are very good at in this country, and that is hypocrisy. He left it to be supposed that he and his hon. Friends were not among the hypocrites. But who are the hypocrites in the matter? The hon. Member left it to be supposed that it was his right hon. and learned Friend, the Attorney-General. At any rate, I do not know who else he meant, because it was the Attorney-General who had moved the Motion. But it did not seem quite the same to us on this side of the House.We have heard a lot of very passionate and sincere stuff about the poor fellows who have to work out in the cold and the rain and the sleet—[An HON. MEMBER: "The right hon. and learned Gentleman would not know about that."]—and figures like £10 or £12 a week have been mentioned. But I should have been very much more impressed with the lack of hypocrisy on the benches below the Gangway if I had heard one of those speeches when it was proposed that the House of Commons salary should be advanced to £65 a week. The hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) twitted us with having supported that. We did support it, but we support this Motion, too. But hon. Members opposite supported that, and now they are attacking this Motion. It is this which makes it rather difficult to accept the true sincerity of some of the speeches that we have been listening to. Who are the hypocrites in this matter? Is it the Attorney-General, who has proposed the Motion? It will cost, I gather from his speech, about £60,000. This may be very damaging to the economy, but it is hardly likely to be fatal, even with the present Government. Is it the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who is proposing a Motion which is, so we are told, within the norm of 3½ per cent.? He is at least consistent in that respect. But it has to be contrasted, if the sincere and passionate hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway are to be taken seriously, with a demanded increase of 17 per cent. [An HON. MEMBER: "£2 a week."] The hon. sincere and passionate Gentlemen below the Gangway ask rhetorically the question whether the judges are likely to strike. But it is not actually a crime in a profession not to strike against the community and the State. Is that to be held against them—that they do not propose to strike against the State? Perhaps the seamen might take a leaf out of their book and try to get it without.
But I should be more—
Order. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not give way, hon. Gentlemen must resume their seats.
I should be more impressed with the sincerity and passion of all this if there was some attempt at consistency. The long and the short of it is this. We on these benches at any rate have been consistent. We think that the increases in the House of Commons salary were justified. We think that there ought to be an incomes policy. We think that 3½ per cent. is reasonable. We see sense in the Attorney-General's appeal to the fact that this has been before the Prices and Incomes Board. We see some sense in people like doctors and lawyers, who spend years of their lives dedicating themselves to a qualification, seeking to be paid the rate for the job. We rather doubt the sincerity and conviction of others who are unable to make these protests when their own salary is in question but are only too ready to do it when those of professional gentlemen are under attack. Some of us are getting rather sick of the sheer demagogy and hypocrisy of some of the arguments that we have been hearing tonight.
It is, of course, absolutely right that my hon. Friends should probe carefully and make a full investigation of the proposals that are contained in this Order, and I do not question either their sincerity in doing so or their right to do so. But, if I may say so with respect to them and to the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), I doubt whether this debate is an appropriate occasion to discuss the merits of the seamen's strike.All I wish to say is that the proposed salary increases that are covered in this Order have received the most careful consideration by the highly responsible bodies and authorities that this Parliament and successive Governments have charged with the responsibility of advising upon this matter. It is nonsense, if I may say so with respect to my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis), to speak of this Order being rushed through. In fact, as I said in introducing the Order, the recommendations of the Franks Committee in respect of the increases in the salaries of the higher civil servants were made as long ago as September of last year, and the recommendations in this Order could have been back-dated to that point of time.
If my hon. Friend will forgive me, I will give way in a moment. But when the Government considered the recommendations of the Franks Committee they wanted to be quite sure that they did not do violence to the Government's prices and incomes policy. It was for that reason that the matter was referred to the National Prices and Incomes Board, to which I notice that my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Dickens) very properly paid a high tribute, because he rightly said that this is a vital institution in the fight against inflation. This is a vital element in this Government's attempt to cope with the spiral of rising prices and costs, the first serious attempt of any Government since the war to do so.
Can my right hon. and learned Friend say if the House could see the Report of the Prices and Incomes Board setting out the reasons behind this decision?
The reasons are set out in the Report of the Franks Committee, and the Prices and Incomes Board gave most careful consideration to the matter. Of course, it does not end there. Those recommendations having been made by those two objective, impartial bodies set up by Parliament to deal with these matters, there was a decision that these proposals were in keeping with the Government's policy, with the norm that has been set up for increases in wages and salaries. But then the matter—
Will my right hon. and learned Friend give way? He referred to me personally, and I am sure he did not mean to misquote me, but he said that I referred to this being rushed through I did, but I prefaced my remarks by saying that, so far as I could remember, there had been nothing in the Labour Party's policy or manifesto, either during the last election but one or the last one, which necessitated this being rushed through at this juncture. That was my reference to the rushing through.
My hon. Friend begins by denying that he said that this was being rushed through—
No, I did not.
—and then I understand him to say that it is the very allegation he makes against the Government. However, let me not weary him with problems of consistency.As I was saying when I gave way to my hon. Friend, which I am always delighted to do, the Government's object is the maintenance of their prices and incomes policy, and what is now proposed does not do violence to it. But I take the matter further. Not only were these increases recommended by those two impartial bodies, but the problem had to be tackled also by the Treasury. I doubt that anyone will say that the Treasury is notorious for recklessness in giving money away. It received, therefore, the consideration of the Treasury, and then, finally, the matter had to be considered by my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor. It fell to him to decide to take into account the need for recruitment—one of the factors referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo)—the need for salary to bear relation to the responsibilities of the work, and the need to pay due regard to the excellent trade union principle of the maintenance of differentials. Having given thought to all those factors, my hon. Friend came to the conclusion that this was a Measure proper to recommend to the Government and to the House. With respect, all those factors show a history of the most careful and anxious consideration of the problem. The proposals do no violence to the Government's prices and incomes policy, and I, therefore, commend the Order to the House.
First, I wish to raise the question of behaviour in the House, a question of reform, a subject which we quite often discuss. I understood that, when the Attorney-General rose to speak, you did in fact call me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but irrespective of that, my right hon. and learned Friend continued to speak and ignored—
Order. The hon. Gentleman must not question the decision of the Chair.
May I apologise to my hon. Friend? I looked behind before I rose, but I did not see him.
I accept that apology, but one of the most irritating things here is the domination of the place by Privy Councillors. However, I shall not delay the House for very long, because there are very important items to be discussed after this debate tonight. [Interruption.] It is one of the tragedies of this place that people become so concerned with trivialities that they cannot see the importance of the real issue. They are worried about whether someone has his hands in his pockets or is wearing the right kind of dress for the debate. Let us concern ourselves not with trivialities but with rather bigger things. Having said that, I want now to concern myself with the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg).
Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will concern himself with the matter in hand.
I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have two questions to put, and I hope that we can have them answered. The right hon. and learned Gentleman raised the whole question of hypocrisy, directing his remarks particularly to Members on this side.
Only below the Gangway.
Hypocrisy below the Gangway, he says. The hypocrisy which we are talking about is being practised by the Prices and Incomes Board in the way it has decided that there are two different sets of rules for workers in this country. To the Board, there is one set of rules for the professional workers and one set for the manual workers. It is on that issue that we have raised the question of hypocrisy. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) was right in levelling such a charge against the Board.I want to refer to paragraph 1(b) of the Order. This is the important one. The Prices and Incomes Board had had a great deal of criticism to make about package deals, but this is a large percentage increase with no dates mentioned. Therefore, it is breaking the rule laid down by the Board applying to package deals of a similar kind. This is an example of the hypocrisy of which we speak. Another aspect of the hypocrisy is the amount of the increase. These judges will be getting an increase of about 10s. an hour. Their earnings are based on £5 an hour. We must relate this to the seamen's claim. They are getting about 6s. an hour and are asking for a 5d. an hour increase. This constitutes a fundamental issue. The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone said that lawyers have high morality. They may have passion but I understand that he declaims that they have morality in the sense that they refuse to strike. But they have no need to strike. They have received all they asked for from the Government without pressures and resort to strike. That is the basic difference. The seamen are striking in order to get recognition for their basic application. Here again is another example of the professional worker getting preferential treatment in this sense. He has no need to strike. We on this side have never opposed increases for the doctors or for the judges. We have never said it was wrong for the doctors to receive increases in the way they have. We have made it clear that, even with these increases, the great majority of doctors in hospitals still will be underpaid and exploited. What we are concerned about is the case of some of the businessmen in Harley Street who set their stalls out to some tune because their medicine is second to their business acumen. That is what we have objected to. As trade unionists we are concerned here about the lower-paid barristers and their struggle against poverty. We say it is wrong for the businessmen who practise law as a second string to have an increase of this sort. Those who have been able to get positions of responsibility are to get this large increase while the lads scrounging about around the Inns and other places looking for a "bob" or two get nothing. There is something wrong with the trade unionism of hon. Members opposite. Again, my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West, was right in speaking of hypocrisy. But I do not want to delay the House. We have made the point pretty clear. We are making our protest against this Measure and we shall vote against it tonight—
The hon. Gentleman has said that he is making a protest against this Measure and he has spoken a lot about denying the accusation of hypocrisy. May I take it that, having spoken against this Measure, he proposes to vote against it?
I understand that there is some democracy practised here, and we are hoping that a hundred blooms may flower. We have certainly encouraged them to flower. I want to explain why I have taken this step. I hope that we can postpone this increase until the day after the seamen's strike is ended. That is our purpose this evening in relating the two issues, because we say that it is wrong to pay this increase so long as the seamen remain on strike. Let us see the important issues and act accordingly.
I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I was not able to catch your eye, or that of your predecessor in the Chair before half-past eleven, because I wanted to invite the Attorney-General to withdraw this draft Order, since he had run into such a lot of trouble from his colleagues on the back benches. This is a draft Order and it can be debated at any time and for any length of time.It would not hurt the Order for it to be taken away and brought back at another time, when the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not in such trouble with his back-bench colleagues. I am sure that he is not at the end of his troubles yet, because when the Division is called on the Order, I understand from the noises behind him that a Division will be called, and that they will march in to the Lobby against the Order. I hear no intervention from the other side to say that this will not be so, and so the right hon. and learned Gentleman really is in grave difficulty. I should have asked him to withdraw the Order before half-past eleven because it could have been debated at any time and because there was a Prayer further down the Order Paper which was on the very last day and which cannot now be debated in the future. This is perhaps a matter for the arrangement of the business on the Order Paper, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman would have done the House a service by allowing the Prayer to come on and withdrawing the Order. The hon. Lady the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Joyce Butler) has sat here patiently, and it was not her fault that this was not heard before, because there was litigation in the courts and she was unable to bring it before the House. May I ask a question about the draft Order? The right hon. and learned Gentleman has come forward with this Order, in a burst of generosity on the part of the Treasury, paying the recorders and the county court judges more salary. Part of the increase is a charge on the Consolidated Fund and part of it has to be paid by the cities of Liverpool and Manchester in respect of the recorders of those two cities. The part which has to be paid by the cities is subject to agreement between the Treasury and the city corporations. No mention has been made of the payment of the increases. The House should be informed how much of this increase is charged on the Consolidated Fund and how much is to be found by the ratepayers of Liverpool and Manchester. This arises from an Act of 1956 which threw some of the burden of paying the salaries of the recorders on to the ratepayers. When the 1957 Act took effect, it dated back to the 1956 Act in this respect. Perhaps the Attorney-General will intervene again, with leave, to tell us who bears the cost of these increases.
I listened with interest to what the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) has said. I could not but agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) when he talked about hypocrisy on the benches opposite. I felt that the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) was both blinded by his own passion and overcome by his own sincerity and that he did not see the point, which has been raised from this side, that this week we have had the first opportunity of discussing the seamen's dispute, albeit by analogy, and that for the first time we, the power in this country, the representatives of the people, have had an opportunity of stating what we think are or are not right judgments to be taken with regard to a prices and incomes policy. If the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone cannot understand that, he is more foolish than we thought him to be.The right hon. and learned Member made a great point about lawyers and doctors dedicating their lives to the service of the community. I agree that they do. He made the great point of saying that these people are worthy of their hire, and I agree that they are. He failed, however, to make the point that there is, I believe, no recorded case in industrial relations in the twentieth century when workmen have struck against an increase in wages. I am open to correction on this. We are considering an increase in wages of £400, £475 and £550. This is a tremendous increase. It is an increase which is greater than the take-home pay of many of the people who voted for me at the last election. It is an increase which is greater than many people who are struggling to live, to have decent lives and to bring up their children properly are getting. It is an increase greater than many people who are living below the National Assistance rate and who are still gainfully employed are getting. This is why we say to the Government that if they are having a prices and incomes policy, it must be seen to be fair. I am, I think, the only Member of the House who has fought two elections this year. I fought them on the basis of a fair incomes and prices policy. I made the point again and again that we must have constant prices, that we must have fair incomes and control of dividends, prices, rents and other sources of income and that, at the same time, we must have a massive increase in the wages of the lower-paid members of our society. Only in this way could we get a society which was socially just. On this occasion, however, the Recorders of Liverpool and Manchester and the county court judges are getting a tremendous increase in their wages. I do not know whether they need it. To be honest, I do not know any of these gentlemen. But if we are to sell this policy to the country, we have to show that we have a passionate concern with the wages of the lower-income groups. At a time when people are fighting to establish a decent wage for seamen, when there have been times in recent years when a seaman's basic wage has been less than he would get on National Assistance and when there have been times during the past year when the seamen have been fiddled of overtime, for the Government to say that they will give these increases, ranging from £400 to £550, is not only psychologically wrong, but is damned foolish. It is preventing us from advocating a policy in which we passionately believe. I was not a Member of this House when the last wages award was given to the judges, but I can well remember reading in The Times that one of the hon. Members for Newcastle was saying, "This is not an issue on which we will divide the House and vote against the Government because we do not think this issue sufficiently important." [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"] I, for one, feel that that judges should be well paid and so not placed in line with the temptations of ordinary mortals like the rest of the people, and that they should live away from the ordinary pressures and temptations of society, and must be compensated for their dedication. I am in favour of all that, though I am not sure I am in favour of the enormous tax concessions they got. I, for one, therefore, would not vote against this Order, but I say to the Government that they must consider carefully what they are doing when they increase the wages of these people who, by any standard within our society, are well paid. Even if the cost is only some £60,000, many of my constituents would welcome £60, never mind £60,000. The incomes policy should be seen to be fair equitable and socially just. I know that hon. Members opposite are fishing in troubled waters and trying to get us to divide—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] They talk about controversy; but some of them should have heard the conversation among their number who sit below the Gangway. I say to hon. Members opposite that, when we on this side are trying to get our policy to work, they should produce their policy, and remember the consequences of the policy of the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)—a tremendous rise in unemployment and in prices. So at the moment I, for one, am prepared to give the Government the benefit of the doubt. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It is more than I would give hon. Members opposite. We on this side are continuously being pushed into situations where eventually we are going to say, "This has got to stop". We have got to see this policy working fairly.
I think I have the doubtful honour of having been the only member of my profession to have spoken against the increase in the judges' remuneration during the last Parliament, and perhaps my hon. Friends will, therefore, forgive me if I do not follow that precedent on this occasion.Before dealing with the reasons for that, I should like to deal with some of the points of the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) who referred to the fact that £60,000 was not going to damage the economy of this country. What he failed to say was that my hon. Friends who have grave doubts and misgivings about this are not concerned about the £60,000, but with the psychological impact of this upon the whole question of the incomes policy and getting the incomes policy over to the people. Then he had the effrontery to talk about Members' salaries, with his characteristic buffoonery we in this House have become accustomed to. He referred to hon. Members on this side below the Gangway as having been hypocritical. It was the right hon. and learned Member who used the word "hypocritical" in relation to hon. Members below the Gangway who have spoken with very great sincerity upon this matter. What the right hon. and learned Gentleman fails to take into account is the fact that even now Members' salaries are only half of those with whom we are dealing in this Order. What the right hon. and learned Gentleman fails to point out is that he and I, and many other hon. Members, have another source of income if we want it, whereas many of my hon. Friends on this side of the House in particular cannot seek other sources of income outside. It is therefore cheap and hypocritical to try to bring in the sort of argument which the right hon. and learned Gentleman brought to bear against my hon. Friends. I believe that the resentment which has come to the surface in this debate is not because of these increases, which I believe are merited, but because my hon. Friends feel that the prices and incomes policy should be aimed primarily at creating some sort of climate of social justice in this country where we deal not only with incomes, but with the movement of prices, excessive dividends, and excessive profits. I believe that the demonstration which we have seen from some of my hon. Friends is levelled at trying to work out an incomes policy which is fair to all sections of the community, not merely the higher Civil Service and doctors, but also workers in other sections of industry, and in particular those about whom we are concerned tonight, namely, the seamen who are on strike. It is perhaps a pity that this should be seen as a strike against the Government, when it is in fact a strike against the shipowners. I spoke against the 20 per cent. increase in judges' salaries which was granted in the last Parliament. Compared with that increase, this one is not unfair. An immense volume of work is done in the Crown Court at Manchester. The work is increasing rapidly, and it is wrong, and I am afraid rather demagogic, of my hon. Friends to ask about hours of work because a Judge, whether in the High Court, or in the Crown Court at Manchester, must spend long and arduous hours at night and at the weekend poring over cases which he has to hear the following day or the following week. My hon. Friends must not fall into the error of opposing this Order merely because of the strong feelings, which I share, about seamen, about railwaymen, about miners, and about other sections of the community. We must not fall into the error of being demagogic over this. Hon. Gentlemen opposite who cheer at this are the very people who are most at fault in this respect. They have a dual standard, only it is in reverse, because when the miners, or the dockers, or the railwaymen, ask for an increase, they are the first to oppose it. I believe that if we want the right type of person from the Bar to accept appointments such as the Recordership of the Crown Court at Manchester, we must offer reasonable salaries, because many people in the profession can earn far greater salaries at the Bar. This is the sort of thing which my hon. Friends must understand within the context of the legal profession, which is always good for a laugh.
Is my hon. Friend aware that when the case was first argued from these benches it was clearly explained that we were not opposing this increase, but we were pointing out that an increase at this time was not appropriate. It is not appropriate at a time when the seamen are engaged in their battle with the shipowners. This is the basic question.
I accept the sincerity of my hon. Friend's point. This is just the point which was made in a previous debate when we said that it was psychologically wrong to give judges a 20 per cent. increase when we had decided to set a 3½ per cent. norm. However, I expect that when this Order was originally put before the House the seamen's strike was not in progress. It is, therefore, unfair to use this argument against the Order. My hon. Friends have made an important point about the incomes policy in saying that it has to be a just policy, with a squaring up of lower incomes and with a general attempt to create some pattern of fairness in salaries. If this point has been made, I believe that their protest has been a creditable one and one which should have been made.Having said that, however, I would ask my hon. Friends who have made the protest to look at the Order on its merits. I believe that there is a great deal of merit in the Order.
With your leave and that of the House, Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could deal with the question of fact raised by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) about who is to pay the salaries of the Recorders of Manchester and Liverpool. They are charged on the Consolidated Fund, but half of the salaries—or such other amount as may be agreed with the Treasury—is payable by the Manchester and Liverpool Corporations respectively.
I would press the right hon. and learned Gentleman to say what part. He has only repeated what I said. I asked him how much was agreed with the Treasury to come out of the ratepayers' pockets.
That has to be negotiated and will be negotiated.
But we cannot pass an Order like that.
Since the right hon. and learned Gentleman has referred to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) and he answered one of the points which my hon. Friend made, would it perhaps not be as well if the right hon. and learned Gentleman accepted my hon. Friend's suggestion that he should withdraw the Order? The Order is fully justified. It was very well justified by the speech of the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) and it has been well justified by the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg). The only thing which has disfigured the debate has been the personal attacks made upon him. I always thought that all hon. Members of the House spoke with sincerity—that was presumed and normal—and that is the only thing which has disfigured the debate.There is nothing wrong with the Order. There is nothing wrong with the claim of these judicial officers for the increase in salary, but the Prime Minister has told us that a strike is in progress against the State. We are told that a national emergency might conceivably be declared before very long, so we in this House ought to consider how we speak and act at this time. Although the Order is a good Order, is it not sound counsel which was offered by my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby that the Attorney-General should consider whether it is opportune at this grave moment in our history and whether he should not withdraw the Order and bring it before the House on another occasion?
I shall be very brief but very serious. I want to ask my right hon. and learned Friend, in view of the very real difficulties in which he is placing us—when we feel torn in two directions—whether he would consider, not abandoning the Order, but withholding it for perhaps two or three weeks until this national dispute is over, when he could feel happy about what he is doing. I plead with him—I can assure the House that there is no hypocrisy about this—to consider the present very difficult situation. I assure my right hon. and learned Friend that many hon. Members here this evening are in the most difficult of predicaments because of this situation. I ask my right hon. and learned Friend to agree, for the sake of hon. Members and of the party which he represents, that he will reconsider this matter and say, "I will withdraw the Order and reintroduce it when the seamen's dispute is settled".
That the Judicial Offices (Salaries) Order, 1966, a draft of which was laid before this House on 21st April, be approved.
The House proceeded to a Division—
Mr. ALAN FITCH and Mr. WALTER HARRISON were appointed Tellers for the Ayes, and Mr. ARTHUR LEWIS was appointed Teller for the Noes; but no Member being willing to act as second Teller for the Noes, Mr. SPEAKER declared that the Ayes had it.