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Volume 983: debated on Wednesday 23 April 1980

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asked the Mnister for the Civil Service, if he will make a statement on the current pay negotiation with the Civil Service staffs.

I refer my hon. Friend to my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Bendall) on 3 April. Since then the Government have decided that the settlements for the non-industrial civil servants should be staged with the new rates being paid in full from 7 May. Negotiations on the pay settlement for industrial civil servants, whose settlement date is 1 July will take place nearer the time.

Will my hon. Friend give an assurance to the House that the pay settlement falls within the Government's cash limits policy of 14 per cent., and that this is based not on the post-dated cheques of the previous Administration, as mentioned in the press recently?

I can assure my hon. Friend that the Civil Service pay award for 1980–81 is contained within the cash limits allowing for only 14 per cent. increased pay costs. The difference of 4¾ per cent. will be covered by staff reductions and the staging that I have announced. That is the reality of the situation. The Government are enforcing a limit of a 14 per cent. increase in pay costs, and making manpower economies to achieve it. I hope that others will take note.


asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he is satisfied with the level of salary increases being obtained by civil servants.

Is the Minister aware that the truth of the situation is that average wage increases in the Civil Service have been in excess of 20 per cent. and not the 14 per cent. to which the Minister refers? Does not this signify that the Government have no more hope of introducing a pay policy in the Civil Service sector than they have of doing so in the industrial sector? Would the Minister care to tell the House what will be the cash limits for the next wage round for civil servants?

I will not say now what are to be the cash limits for 1981–82. It will be many months before anything has to be settled. I am not even over this pay round, let alone starting on the next. The hon. Gentleman's figures are wrong. The position remains as I stated to my hon. Friend a few moments ago.

Is the Minister aware that there are several hundred boys and girls in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne languishing on social security who, but for the policies that he is pursuing, would have been following gainful employment? Does he feel satisfied with this situation? Is he proud of himself?

I am sorry to hear the hon. Gentleman's comments. I do not think that they relate to the question of pay rates for civil servants.

Should not another hard look be taken at the role of the Pay Research Unit? Since the Government rightly set cash limits, based on their calculations on what the community can afford, is it not thoroughly unfortunate that the Pay Research Unit should come forward with solutions that can only lead directly to redundancies?

I understand my hon. Friend's view. I must point out to him, as I did on an earlier occasion, that the Conservative Party election manifesto said that we would reconcile pay research with cash limits. That has been the Government's policy and one that I have been trying to implement. I take note of what my hon. Friend says.