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Broadcasting Bill: Commons Amendments

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Inglewood, I beg to move the Motion standing in his name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the Commons amendments be considered in the following order:

Commons amendments 1-98,

Commons amendments 171-256,

Commons amendments 99-170,

Commons amendments 257-296.--(Baroness Trumpington.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Ministerial and other Salaries Order 1996 (No. 2)

3.8 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne) rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 9th July be approved [26th Report from the Joint Committee].

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The noble Viscount said: My Lords, the draft Ministerial and other Salaries Order before your Lordships today is unusual in that it provides two sets of increases which come into effect at different times. This is to implement the recommendations of the independent Senior Salaries Review Body, which were debated in the other place last Wednesday and accepted in full. The order, when made, will provide increases of 3 per cent. for all Ministers and office holders in this House and a modest increase of £500 in the Lord Chancellor's salary lead over the Lord Chief Justice. It also provides further significant salary increases for a selection of Ministers and office holders to take effect after the next election. In this House, those affected are Cabinet Ministers and the Lord Advocate.

I should make it clear that Her Majesty's Government thought the increases recommended by the SSRB were too high. We therefore proposed in another place awards based on the 3 per cent. increases recommended for Lords Ministers. Members of another place chose to reject the Government's advice and voted for the whole package, one element of which is before you today.

In making its recommendations on all parliamentary salary levels the SSRB applied the principle that the main determinate should be the level and range of responsibilities. In the case of Ministers and office holders in this House it also accepted the historical argument that ministerial salaries should remain higher than those of their counterparts in another place. Those principles are reflected in the new rates which the review body has recommended.

Your Lordships will have noted that no post-election increases have been recommended for Ministers of State and Parliamentary Under-Secretaries. The same is true for their counterparts in another place, although they will continue to benefit from the increases in their parliamentary salaries. The reason for this is that in the time available the SSRB was unable to consider in sufficient depth the relativities between Ministers of State and Parliamentary Under-Secretaries in this House and their counterparts in another place. It will therefore consider that aspect further and make its recommendations in due course. If any of your Lordships wish to examine the development recommendation in the SSRB report I recommend a review of paragraph 59.

I should comment also on the three recommendations in the SSRB report on your Lordships' allowances, particularly in the light of the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell. Those allowances are: a consolidated allowance for regular attendance; the entitlement to claim for two return journeys for spouses to attend parliamentary occasions; and the proposal to introduce these allowances from 1st August of this year and uprated in accordance with normal practice.

Her Majesty's Government need to consult the House authorities on the administrative arrangements involved in implementing those recommendations. I submit that they could be fairly complicated. If the House permits, I shall return to your Lordships with more detailed proposals in the light of those investigations as soon as I can.

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I have already referred to the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell. I can readily understand that other noble Lords may share his disappointment that the SSRB has not recommended any significant increases in Peers' expenses. The noble Lord, Lord Richard, Leader of the Opposition in your Lordships' House, has already drawn my attention to the concerns of a number of Back Bench Peers on that and other matters. I welcome the noble Lord's interest in this matter. I hope that it will be possible for him, the Convener and the Leader of the Liberal Democrats to confer with me in order to consider how best we should approach this matter in due course. I hope that your Lordships' House will regard it as sensible for that confabulation to take place before I return to your Lordships on this matter.

For that reason, I suggest that it is preferable to treat ministerial salaries and Peers' expenses separately in spite of the understandable concern expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell. Indeed, it is entirely commensurate with the past approach of the House to these matters. I should like to underline one way of looking at this important matter. In the past your Lordships have endorsed the principle that Peers' expenses should be treated as just that. They are not in any way remuneration, but a reflection of the fact that your Lordships' House is, in political terms, although not in terms of the expertise which this House embodies, an amateur House. Therefore, any suggestion that your Lordships' House as at present composed should attract remuneration is at variance with the nature of the House. I suggest that it would be sensible for your Lordships to regard expenses as just that. Therefore, we have a difficult line to maintain. On the one hand, we do not wish your Lordships to feel that you are subsidising attendance at this House in any way. On the other hand, I suggest that it would be wise for the general public to be aware that, in contrast to predilections elsewhere, your Lordships do not--dare I say it?--suffer from greed, and that if there is an opportunity to depart from the narrow path which I have suggested should be followed, your Lordships should err on the side of public economy rather than the reverse. That is something that your Lordships will wish to look at when considering the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell.

For that reason, I hope that your Lordships will feel able to approve the recommendations embodied in my Motion this afternoon. I commend the recommendations to the House. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 9th July be approved [26th Report from the Joint Committee].--(Viscount Cranborne.)

Lord Dean of Beswick: My Lords, we have been told year after year that our remuneration is not a matter for this House but that the decision is made in another place. But when the Minister gave an answer to a question in another place at the time this matter

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was debated he bounced the ball in here. In another place Mr. D.N. Campbell-Savours, the Member for Workington, asked the Leader of the House:

    "Why do the Government refuse to include evidence on the remuneration of peers? Many working peers find it difficult to manage; yet they do as much work as many Members of this House. Are they not being treated disgracefully?".
One could also say that about Ministers and the workload in the House compared with others. Mr. Newton's reply was quite clear:

    "The remuneration of working peers is a matter for the other place".

Lord Elton: My Lords, I believe that there is an amendment to this Motion on the Order Paper. It is the custom of this House to take the amendment first and the order afterwards.

Lord Dean of Beswick: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Elton, is not yet the Speaker of the House, so I will proceed. Mr. Newton said--

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, I am, as always, to be guided by your Lordships. If the noble Lord, Lord Dean, is intervening in my remarks I shall be happy to try to conclude my remarks by attempting to answer his point. On the other hand, if he is anticipating what the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, is to say I wonder whether the House would prefer to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Dean, after the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, rather than before.

Lord Dean of Beswick: My Lords, I am grateful to the Leader of the House. However, my remarks have nothing to do with the amendment on the Order Paper; they are related to a completely different subject. When Mr. Campbell-Savours put his pointed question Mr. Newton replied:

    "The remuneration of working peers is a matter for the other place".
He was referring to noble Lords. He went on to say,

    "There are three recommendations in the report on which I have not touched".--[Official Report, Commons, 10/7/96; col. 491.]

He made it quite clear that we should be the masters of our own remuneration, not sit back like lapdogs waiting for the crumbs to fall off the table when the MPs have had their snouts in the trough. According to Mr. Newton, we have some say in this matter.

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, I observed the useful and disinterested trades unionist intervention from the honourable Member for Workington, and indeed the reply of my right honourable friend in another place. Noble Lords' expenses are entirely a matter for your Lordships' House. I hope that I can reassure the noble Lord on that matter. Ministerial salaries are a different matter. That is

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a matter for resolution by both Houses, and it is to that particular resolution that I direct your Lordships' attention this afternoon.

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