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Civil Aviation Authority Salaries

Volume 375: debated on Thursday 21 October 1976

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3.15 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government why it is that they have failed to authorise certain salary increases for key members of the Civil Aviation Authority.

My Lords, The Top Salaries Review Body made certain recommendations for salary increases in its December 1974 report but the wider considerations relating to higher incomes referred to by the previous Prime Minister in his Answer in another place on 20th December 1974 have so far prevented their implementation. The Government are conscious of the problems which have been created as a result, but there are also serious difficulties attached to the implementation of these recommendations. The matter remains under close review.

My Lords, while I thank the noble Lord for that reply, may I ask him whether he is aware that there are now certain senior employees of the Authority just below the level to which I have referred who are receiving higher salaries than those immediately above them? Is the noble Lord aware also of the remark in the last annual report of the Authority which said, in relation to this matter, that the effective functioning of the Authority is therefore now in jeopardy?

Yes, my Lords, I am aware of the factors to which the noble Lord has called attention. With regard to his first point, it is true that this is a very serious anomaly, but it is the nature of any cut-off level or period that anomalies will be created on one side or another. We recognise the difficulty, as I have said. The matter is under review, but it is not the appropriate time nor am I the appropriate person to make a statement about it.

As to the reference in the annual report, there was a strong warning in the report, but I am glad to say that no resignations have occurred. I feel that it was rather an overstatement to suggest that the effective functioning of the Authority is in jeopardy.

But, my Lords, is the Minister aware that there is nothing sacrosanct about the recommendations of the Boyle Report? Members of Parliament and Ministers have suffered in the past because the recommendations of the Boyle Committee have not been carried out and we have had the ridiculous situation of a Minister in charge of a Department getting less in the way of a stipend than the third official in his Department.

Yes, my Lords, one recognises that also as one of the anomalies that arise, but the overriding consideration is that these pay policies, at both the higher and the lower levels, are a very necessary part of the attack on inflation.

My Lords, can the noble Lord bear in mind when the Government are considering the future of higher salaries, that a section that has been most hardly hit by the freeze is that of the managers in industry, and that until that is put right we shall continue to lose some of our most promising leaders and shall not get the productivity which is so essential for our success in putting our balance of payments and our exports right?

No, my Lords, I do not accept the implication of the first part of the noble Lord's suggestion. There are others lower down the scale who are hit very much more.

My Lords, can the noble Lord just give an assurance that this matter will be kept under urgent review and the anomalies corrected at the very earliest possible moment?

My Lords, that was the reason why I included in the original Answer the information that the matter is being kept under review. Of course anomalies will be corrected when the economic situation permits.