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Pay Settlements

Volume 901: debated on Sunday 2 March 1975

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2.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on increment payments and the £6 limit.

Incremental and wage-for-age payments which are made according to a well-defined range or scale, already in operation before 11th July, may continue at the same level as in preceding years for those earning less than £8,500 a year. This is on the condition that, together with the annual pay increase, the payments under such a scheme do not raise the pay bill for the group concerned by more than £6 a head.

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is not without significance that the people who drafted that reply for my hon. Friend—the same people who are advising the leadership of Birmingham city council that it must fork out £1·5 million more in increments—are the very people who stand to gain most by the continuation of incremental payments over and above the £6 limit? Is he aware that the situation is not as he has just described it?

I take full responsibility for what I have just said. Ministers who make statements at this Box have every bit as much concern for the policy accepted by the Government and the TUC as have those trade unionists who are engaged in negotiations on behalf of local authority employees.

Since the £6 limit ends next August, do the Government propose, in the new year, to publish a White Paper about their future intentions, or will they simply let matters drift?

The Government, as of now, have no intention of publishing a White Paper. Like many other people concerned with wage negotiations, we are considering the effect of the current policy in a whole series of areas. We must take account of that in discussing any developments of this subject.

Will my hon. Friend tell us where is the equality of sacrifice for those workers who produce the wealth of this country who are subjected to an increase limit of £6 a week, if they can get it—and in many cases they are having a job to get even half that—compared with the situation of people like Mr. Eric Sosnow, the boss of United City Merchants, a stockbroking firm? Is he aware that Mr. Sosnow has just awarded himself a £200-a-week pay rise, which brings his total earnings for the year to £35,756? Why does my hon. Friend not start sending messages to Mr. Sosnow?

I do not know the present salary or wage of the gentleman to whom my hon. Friend referred, but subject to its being more than the £8,500 limit, I should say that my hon. Friend has just described to the House a flagrant breach of the Government's policy.