asked the Minister of Defence (1) if he is aware of the need for an improvement in the basic pay of National Service men; and what steps he proposes to take to meet this situation;
(2) if he will increase the pay of National Service men for the last six months of their service so as to bring it into line with that of Regular Service men.
But is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this shows a complete indifference to a very legitimate grievance? Is he also aware that when the present National Service Act came into operation the basic pay was 28s.? Is he further aware that to have purchasing power of that amount today, 42s. 8d. would be needed, and since only 3s. 6d. has been added to the 28s., the basic pay of National Service men in 1958 as compared with 1948 is 11s. 2d. less than it ought to be, and that if he cannot allow them to get on he ought at least to allow them to maintain the 1948 position?
I am sorry, perhaps my arithmetic is not so agile as that of the hon. Gentleman, but I cannot follow all those calculations. In so far as there is discrimination between the pay of National Service men and Regulars, that discrimination was started by the party opposite when they were in office.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the National Service men are suffering a particular hardship in that not only have they not had an increase in pay, but by the increase in National Insurance contribution which is deducted from their pay they are about the only section of the community at present which has suffered a relative decline in pay over the last few years?
The National Insurance contribution, of course, also applies to people outside the Services. It has never been the practice to adjust pay to meet isolated changes in the cost of living. On the general question, I consider that a man who voluntarily commits himself to a long period of service in the Forces, and intends to make a career in them, is entitled to a higher rate of pay than those who join for only two years.