some default text...
Previous Section Index Home Page


PRIME MINISTER

Senior Salaries Review Body

Mr. Corbett: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the latest reports and recommendations of the Review Body on Senior Salaries. [80172]

The Prime Minister: Two Reports from the Review Body on Senior Salaries are published today. One on the initial pay, allowances, pensions and severance arrangements for Members of the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly; and a second on the salaries for Ministers and Office-holders and office support for Members in those bodies, and on certain Parliamentary Development Recommendations outstanding from the Review Body's 1996 Review of Parliamentary pay and allowances. Copies are available in the Vote Office and the Libraries of the House. I am grateful to the Chairman and the Members of the Review Body for their work.

The main recommendations of the Review Body with regard to pay in the devolved institutions are:

Members' Salaries£
Scottish Parliament39,000
Northern Ireland Assembly37,000
National Assembly for Wales33,500

31 Mar 1999 : Column: 713

Salaries for Ministers and Office-holders (Paid in addition to a Member's salary)£
Ministerial Salary for First Minister for Scotland, First Secretary for Wales, and First Minister for Northern Ireland62,556
Ministerial Salary for Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland47,504
Salary for Ministerial duties in the Executive of the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly32,451
Office-holder Salary for Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly32,451

31 Mar 1999 : Column: 713

The Government have decided that they will accept all of these recommendations with the exception of that for the Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland. In view of the unique political situation in Northern Ireland and the joint responsibility which the Deputy First Minister is expected to exercise with the First Minister, the Government believe that there should be parity of salary between these two posts. Consequently, the salary for the Deputy First Minister will also be £62,556.

In accordance with the Review Body's recommendation on an annual pay review for the salaries in the devolved institutions, these figures will be uprated with effect from 1 April 1999 and annually thereafter by the same percentage as the average of the movements in the mid-points of the nine Senior Civil Service pay bands below Permanent Secretary. This is the same mechanism as is used for Westminster Parliamentary salaries.

On the recommendations on allowances which the Review Body makes in the two Reports, the Government has decided that they form a useful starting point for the development of comprehensive and tightly controlled

31 Mar 1999 : Column: 714

allowance systems within the new institutions. As the Review Body itself acknowledges, it is not yet possible to know exactly what the allowances will need to cover and some of the recommendations themselves point to further work. The Government believe that further work needs to be done on the basis of the recommendations and that this is best done by the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly themselves. We would expect them to put in place as soon as possible an appropriate but closely controlled system, mindful of the need for a prudent approach and the need to justify to the taxpayer any significant divergence from the recommendations made by the Review Body.

In both of the Reports on the new devolved institutions the SSRB noted the difficulty of judging the correct level of pay and allowances when the institutions were not yet in operation. In both cases the SSRB recommended an early review, in 2001, which would be based on the evidence of two years of operation rather than on the current basis of the anticipation of roles and responsibilities. The Government recognise the difficulty expressed by the SSRB and fully accept the arguments for a review in 2001.

31 Mar 1999 : Column: 715

In relation to Ministers in the UK Government, the Review Body recommends that the salaries for Ministers below Cabinet level in the House of Lords and certain

31 Mar 1999 : Column: 716

other Office holders in the House of Lords, including the Leader of the Opposition and the Opposition Chief Whip, should be increased as follows:

31 Mar 1999 : Column: 715

Junior Ministers and other Office Holders in the House of Lords

£
Current salarySalary after SSRB recommendationSalary from 1 April 1999 (10)
Minister of State53,26461,76464,426
Parliamentary Under Secretary44,83253,33255,631
Government Chief Whip53,26461,76464,426
Deputy Chief Whip44,83253,33255,631
Government Whip40,54749,04751,161
Leader of the Opposition44,83253,33255,631
Opposition Chief Whip40,54749,04751,161
Chairman of Committees53,26461,76464,426
Principal Deputy Chairman49,05257,55260,032

(10) Increase in line with SSRB recommendation for these and other Ministerial and Parliamentary salaries


31 Mar 1999 : Column: 715

This recommendation reflects the Review Body's finding that, since the 1996 changes to the pay arrangements for Ministers in the Commons, the salaries of these posts in the Lords has fallen behind to an unreasonable extent. The proposed one-off increase of £8,500 is broadly equivalent to the amount by which the MP's salary paid to Ministers in the Commons was abated prior to the 1996 changes and so restores the relativity. The Government support the arguments put forward by the Review Body that such an increase for these posts is fair and reasonable. We shall be bringing forward a draft Order for consideration by each House to implement the recommended changes.

The Review Body also makes a series of recommendations relating to the central provision of IT equipment for Members' offices, both at Westminster and in their constituencies. The Government are not persuaded by the arguments put forward for enforced central provision of such equipment as this would remove Members' choice in determining what equipment they needed, and how much of the Office Costs Allowance they wish individually to spend on it. The Government agree, however, that there may be cost and other advantages in central bulk procurement of IT equipment for those Members who wish to pursue such an approach. We propose therefore to invite the Information Committee to explore this option further and report its views to the House.

Al Shifa

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will place a copy of the letter from the former engineer of the Al Shifa factory in Khartoum dated 19 March to him and his reply in the Library. [78723]

The Prime Minister: I am aware that my hon. Friend raised this issue in the House on 24 March 1999, Official Report, columns 366-68, and read extracts from a letter from Mr. Carnaffin into the record of the House. I also note that the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett), agreed in that debate to meet Mr. Carnaffin to talk to him about the engineering involved in the factory. I am happy to place any exchange of correspondence with Mr. Carnaffin in the Library of the House.

31 Mar 1999 : Column: 716

Ministerial Code

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the compatibility of the answer by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of 19 March 1999, Official Report, column 857, with paragraphs 1(iii) to (iv) of the Ministerial Code. [78526]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 25 March 1999]: I refer the hon. Member to the oral answer I gave to the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Mr. Flight) today, Official Report, column 1080.

Berlin Summit

Mr. Hood: To ask the Prime Minister what was the outcome of the Berlin Summit held on 24 and 25 March; and if he will make a statement. [79496]

Mr. Jack: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions took place at the Berlin Council on new methods to counter fraud and mismanagement in the Community; and what new measures were agreed. [79775]

The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend and the right hon. Member to the statement I made to the House on 29 March 1999, Official Report, columns 731-47.

EU Budget

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the effect of the EU Summit Agreement in Berlin on the net UK contribution to the EU budget. [79572]

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the cost to the United Kingdom for each of the years from 1999-2000 to 2007-08 of the agreement on the United Kingdom's EU budget rebate reached at the Berlin summit on 25 March; and if he will make a statement. [79582]

Mr. Chope: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will express in (i) sterling and (ii) euros the level of the United Kingdom's (a) net contribution to the EU budget and (b) EU budget rebate against which he has calculated gains and losses in describing the outcome of the Berlin summit; [79561]

31 Mar 1999 : Column: 717

The Prime Minister: I refer the right hon. and hon. Members to my statement to the House on 29 March 1999, Official Report, columns 732-47.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Prime Minister what structural budget reforms in the European Union were achieved at the Berlin summit; and if he will make a statement. [79581]

The Prime Minister: Following agreement at the Berlin European Council on 26 March, it was agreed that for the Structural Funds the budget for 2000-06 will be 213 billion euro (1999 prices). This is an 11 per cent. reduction on the Commission's original proposal, and is in line with the UK's objective of stabilising the overall EU budget.


Next Section Index Home Page