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Departmental Staff: Wages and Conditions

Volume 639: debated on Monday 23 April 2018

11. What steps he is taking to improve wages and conditions for staff in his Department who are on low pay. (904869)

The Ministry of Defence strives to attract the brightest and best from across the country, and whether they are in uniform as part of the civil service or serving in our armed forces, they deserve to have fulfilling jobs that are fairly rewarded.

In response to a recent parliamentary question, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions informed me that cleaners in her Whitehall Department were being paid the London living wage. However, when I asked the same question of the Secretary of State for Defence, I was referred to an earlier answer in which his Ministers admitted that they did not know how much MOD cleaners were being paid. Will the Minister take this opportunity to clarify why he does not know the salary levels of the low-paid staff in his Department, and will he pledge not only to find out but to ensure that all the cleaners in his Whitehall Department are paid the London living wage?

The hon. Lady asks a detailed but important question. There are 3,000 staff who are paid the national minimum wage, and I will certainly look into the details regarding the cleaners, because there seems to be a discrepancy in the answers she has been given. I will resolve to sort that out for her.

Cyber-security experts at GCHQ in my constituency are at the frontline of our nation’s defences as never before, and although they did not join up for the money, their skills are much in demand in the private sector. Does my right hon. Friend agree that paying our cyber-experts fairly has never been more important to national security?

My hon. Friend raises an important point, which we are looking at in case we require transferable skills from other units. There are two approaches: we can either grow the skill set from the start, or we can outsource and look to working with other companies. When it comes to cyber-security, it is important that we have the talent to allow us to ensure that our cyber offensive and our cyber defensive are very strong. To that end, we need to ensure that we pay people the correct salaries.

Order. Colleagues need not worry. Their questions will be reached, but the Chair has to react to the development of events, to which I and some colleagues are privy and others are not. If you are not already confused, you will now be.