Ministers and Members (Remuneration)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th November 1964.

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Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton 12:00 am, 16th November 1964

I think that all of us are very much concerned about this point. I am not sure about the precedents. I would like to look into that, but I think that there is a precedent for making this retrospective; 1945 certainly was a precedent and there may have been others.

In all the exchanges we had about this across the Floor of the House in December, 1963, I think that it was understood by all of us that the purpose of the operation was for the Committee to report to the incoming Government with a view to immediate action. These phrases were used. I think, therefore, that we must act on that basis.

As the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said, and I agree with him, there is never a right time for doing this. Because there never is, never was and never will be a right time, unless we seize a time, however unsuitable, what the Lawrence Committee recognised is a very unfair situation, and one which is derogatory to the work of Parliament, cannot be put right.

I regret as much as the right hon. Gentleman that the new pensions increase takes so long to put into operation. I have gone into this myself, in a great deal of detail, and I have made such helpful and ingenious suggestions as I could for speeding it up, but I now recognise that within the present system it cannot be done. We very much regret that it could not be done at the same time as this proposal to raise Member's salaries.