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Lord Molloy: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that there are people in Iraq who welcome all the pressures that are being put on Saddam Hussein because they want to see progress being made towards a free society and towards the holding of free elections in Iraq? The pressure enables us to help the people of one country who have suffered and also the people in the country which has imposed its evil will on another country who believe in freedom and the political right to elect their own government.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, it is perfectly true that the rights of ordinary Iraqis are disregarded. We know full well that the Iraqi National Council is making a big effort to form a united opposition to the regime of Saddam. However, the people of Iraq must be allowed to have a proper say in their future. The farcical attempt by Saddam Hussein in
It may be of some assistance to your Lordships if I emphasise that the purpose of this Motion is to enable the House to take the Second Reading and the remaining stages of the Northern Ireland (Remission of Sentences) Bill on Thursday next. The Bill provides for the release on licence of prisoners in Northern Ireland to whom Section 14 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1991 applies, and fulfils an intention announced by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in a speech on 25th August. I understand that the purpose of the Bill has the support of all parties and that the intention to take the Second Reading and remaining stages on one day has the support of the usual channels.
Your Lordships may feel that the Bill is not in need of amendment. However, if your Lordships wish to take amendments this Motion does not preclude having a separate Committee stage after the Second Reading debate, and the Public Bill Office will exceptionally accept amendments in advance of Second Reading.
Moved, That, if the Northern Ireland (Remission of Sentences) Bill is brought from the Commons, Standing Order 44 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with to enable the Bill to be taken through its remaining stages on Thursday, 2nd November.(Viscount Cranborne.)
The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this draft order provides for the annual uprating of salaries of Ministers and other office holders. The new salaries under this order are, as they were last year, the result of applying procedures described by my noble friend Lord Wakeham in 1993.
Ministers and officer holders in another place should normally receive the same percentage increase in their salaries as do Members of Parliament. I should explain to your Lordships that the increase for Members of Parliament is, in turn, linked to the settlement for middle ranking civil servants, which this year was 2.7 per cent.
The arrangement for Ministers and office holders in this Housebecause we do not receive a parliamentary salaryis that we should normally receive the same cash increase as our counterparts in another place, taking account of their combined ministerial and reduced parliamentary salaries. That principle will apply to all Ministers and office holders in this House who are covered by the order, including the Leader of the Opposition and the Opposition Chief Whip.
I should also reassure your Lordships that the increases are entirely in keeping with the Government's approach to public sector pay. The linkage with Civil Service pay, which is settled in full accordance with the guidelines, ensures that we apply to ourselves the restraint that we ask of others. That approach has helped to deliver realistic settlements throughout the public sector, and it is reflected in the increases effected in the order before your Lordships. I commend the order to the House. I beg to move.
Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, I realise that, as my noble friend explained, the order follows the pattern of previous changes. However, I want to express my personal view that ministerial salaries, and indeed the remuneration of Opposition leaders, is out of line in comparison with the much higher levels now prevailing in the private sector. I suggest that consideration ought to be given to revising the formula, which my noble friend explained, under which the salaries are determined. It is a pity that those who have to undergo the stress and strain of office or of Opposition leadership should find that their remuneration is becoming very much out of line with that of people in responsible positions outside.
I realise that this is a difficult and delicate question for Ministers to handle. If the matter is to be considered further, as I hope it will be, they may feel that they should obtain the advice of Members of your Lordships' House and of another place who do not hold ministerial office.
The difference that now exists between the remuneration of chairmen and senior directors of a large number of companies and of Her Majesty's Ministers and Opposition leaders is now considerable. I believe that it is in the interests of good government in this country that the position should be reviewed.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, does this not indicate not so much that Ministers and those in Opposition who receive salaries are under-rewarded but that those in the private sector with whom the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, drew a comparison are grossly over-rewarded? Is this not a perfect example of the evil that results from the unrestricted greed of top people in the private sector, against which the Prime Minister himself has inveighed on more than one occasion, attempting, without success, to persuade them to exercise restraint? The Institute of Directors and others in responsible positions have tried to persuade those such as the chairmen of public utilities not to accept
If comparisons are to be made between those directors and heads of large companies and Ministers sitting on the Front Bench, how would one create an equivalent for Ministers of the share options which are enjoyed by the fat cats in the public utilities? I suggest that the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, has made an extraordinarily dangerous suggestion and one which should be vigorously resisted by your Lordships.
Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, I believe that it would be appropriate to draw attention to evidence which was given to the Nolan Committee by a Member of the other place, Sir Terence Higgins. This has nothing to do with fat cats, directors' salaries and share options. Sir Terence said that since he joined the other place in 1964 average earnings in the economy as a whole have increased in real terms by 80 per cent., MPs' salaries have stayed the same in real terms, and Ministers' salaries have reduced by between 35 per cent. and 50 per cent. in real terms. Those salaries have become completely out of kilter.
The problem is that the media have homed in on what even the noble Lord opposite referred to as fat cats. We are talking about average earnings. We want to ensure that the right people can afford to come to Parliament and accept ministerial positions. There are a great many people who cannot at the moment.
Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, while I admire the restraint of Her Majesty's Government and the noble Viscount the Leader of the House in these matters, I depart slightly from the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter. Is the noble Lord aware that the restraint that has been shown by the Government in regard to their own salaries ought to be followed by action in the European Community, where commissioners and other civil servants in Brussels get roughly twice the remuneration of the British Prime Minister?
Lord Renton: My Lords, it might be helpful if a comparison were also made with others receiving salaries in the public service, such as members of the higher judiciary and the few remaining quangos which have not been privatised.
Lord Marsh: My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Viscount the Leader of the House can help the House. As a member of a party dedicated to market forces, can he give some indication of the amount of difficulty which the Government currently face in filling ministerial vacancies?
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, to a certain extent I support what the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, said. However, I believe that he made the wrong comparison, as has been pointed out. Ministerial salaries are absurdly low compared with salaries paid in other public sector jobs, even to officials of this House. When one bears in mind that the chief executive of a relatively small local authority will
Whatever party is in power, the jobs of the Prime Minister of this country and his government are very important. Many people try to play down the importance of government, but Ministers run the country. They deserve a decent salary and should be seen to be paid a decent salary. Therefore, I hope that, as has been suggested, the situation will be reviewed with a view to ensuring that the Prime Minister and all his Ministers are properly remunerated for the job that they do. The same applies to Members of the House of Commons.
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