Draft Attorney General's Salary Order 2000

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Mr. Hawkins: If.

Mr. Tipping: It will happen. I know that there is some scepticism about that. There was scepticism about stage 1, but after a hundred years we achieved it and we will achieve stage 2. Clearly, there will be implications for Ministers in the Lords and we will return to the issue then.

The hon. Member for South Dorset (Mr. Bruce), who has an interest in recruitment and pay in his professional life, asked whether the Attorney-General had enough to do. I contrast that comment with the view of the hon. Member for Surrey Heath, that the Attorney-General had so much to do that he had to be in the House of Commons. I will avoid his other questions, which do not relate to the order and simply say that the General fulfils all the functions that an Attorney-General has ever had. My right hon. Friend Lord Williams of Mostyn is also the Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, so he has taken on extra responsibilities.

Mr. Lansley: As my hon. Friends made clear, there is a debate about the Attorney-General's work load. Regardless of his individual merits, we contend that because the Attorney-General is appointed from the House of Lords, he cannot fulfil the full range of his functions as the most senior of the Law Officers in his Department, or account personally to the elected Chamber for the discharge of those responsibilities. The hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon also made that point well, and we hope that it will be reflected in future decisions about the post of Attorney-General.

Mr. Tipping: The hon. Gentleman has used this opportunity to put that matter on record again. All the Opposition Members who spoke have put it on record and I will draw the attention of my right hon. and hon. Friends to their comments. The Attorney-General is doing his job well and successfully. The Committee agrees that he is a man of distinction, and I see no reason why he cannot continue to do his job in a distinguished way. He has a good deputy, the Solicitor-General, to answer questions in the Commons, but hon. Members asked for their comments to be recorded and I will ensure that that happens.

The hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Luff) asked how inflation is judged and recorded. It is a matter for the SSRB. Its report shows that the last yearly increase in ministerial salaries was 2.9 per cent. I hope that the order, which everyone has acknowledged needs support, will now be approved.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

    That the Committee has considered the draft Attorney-General's Salary Order 2000.

Committee rose at eight minutes past Eleven o 'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Cunningham, Mr. Jim (Chairman)
Blears, Ms
Bruce, Mr. Ian
Burnett, Mr.
Caplin, Mr.
Crausby, Mr.
Henderson, Mr. Ivan
Hepburn, Mr.
Lansley, Mr.
Love, Mr.
Luff, Mr.
Quinn, Mr.
Sutcliffe, Mr.
Tipping, Mr.
Ward, Ms

The following also attended pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(2):
Hawkins, Mr. Nick (Surrey Heath)

 
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Prepared 27 June 2000