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Column 421Meacher, Michael
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Pike, Peter L.
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Quin, Ms Joyce
Reid, Dr John
Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Strang, Dr. Gavin
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Wareing, Robert N
Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Wright, Dr Tony
Young, David (Bolton SE)
Tellers for the Noes :
Mr. Eric Illsley and
Mr. Alan Meale.
Question accordingly agreed to.
That this House approves the Government's assessment as set out in sections 2, 4 and 5 of the Financial Statement and Budget Report for the purposes of section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993.
Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.-- [Mr. Nicholas Baker.]
Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax) : First, may I place on record my disgust at the Government's refusal to honour the recommendations of the pay review body for nurses by expecting efficiency savings to fund it?
In December 1993, the Department of Health put forward proposals to introduce performance-related pay for nurses, midwives and health visitors. The Department's guidelines for performance-related pay may be issued, but it will be up to local employers to decide whether to pay extra. There will be no jointly agreed rules or guarantee of payment. Trusts will be free to choose any performance measure they like.
As a result, the management side of the nurses' negotiating body proposed that local employers should be allowed to introduce performance-related pay based on the
"achievement of increased productivity and/or improved efficiency".
I firmly believe that to go down such a road would be a disaster for the finest nursing profession in the world.
First, we should examine the advantages of the current system for setting nurses' pay through a national salary scheme, determined by an independent review body following representations from employers, Government and unions. A national salary for nursing staff has been in place ever since the foundation of the national health service. It was brought in to replace the chaotic confusion in the pre-war arrangements, when pay was determined by a local hospital board and local authorities.
The system of national pay has been very useful and the pay review body introduced in 1983 has also worked well, so nursing has enjoyed good industrial relations and stability. But, as everybody knows, the Government's motto for the public sector is, "If it is working well and workers seem to be satisfied and are benefiting, let's wreck it".
That is what the internal market, of which performance-related pay is a creature, will do.
Tonight I want to make the case for a national salary for nurses--that case is moral, economic and social. Is it fair that a nurse in my constituency of Halifax should be paid less than nurses in the constituencies of my hon. Friends the Members for Preston (Mrs. Wise), for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) and for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Chisholm) when the jobs that those nurses perform are identical?
The clinical grading system can deal with differences in work between areas of the country, and the London allowance is intended to offset the high costs of living in the capital. But the Minister should say tonight whether he believes that other variations in pay are justifiable, particularly if they are based on factors outside nurses' control, such as local unemployment or the financial, or otherwise, success of the trust. The morale of nurses has never been lower. Does the Minister seriously intend to make it worse by allowing the crazy system to go ahead?
In economic terms, a national salary makes it easier for nurses, especially qualified ones, to move around the country. It avoids the prospect of competition for staff between hospitals and is simple to administer. Why interfere with that system? Why not leave it alone when it has been proved to work so well?