Nurses' pay is at present being considered by the Standing Commission on pay comparability. The Commission intends to report by 1 January, and the Government have accepted a commitment to implement its award by two equal stages, from August 1979 and April 1980. We have indicated that we shall honour the commitment on cash limits made by our predecessors to health authorities, although the previous Administration had not provided any funds for this purpose.
Does the Minister recall the statement made by the hon. Member for Reading, South (Dr. Vaughan), now the Minister in charge of the Health Service, in a debate before the election, when he said that the nurses should be treated as generously as the policemen and the firemen? When will the Government translate that promise into practice?
I recognise that nurses' pay should not again be allowed to fall behind, as it has done in the past. The Government are considering what arrangement should apply in the future for settling the pay of various public service groups, such as nurses. We shall be bringing forward our proposals in due course.