National Health Service (Dispute)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:09 pm on 19th July 1982.

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Photo of Mr Reg Race Mr Reg Race , Haringey Wood Green 4:09 pm, 19th July 1982

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely, the 1,000,000 Health Service staff who will be undertaking industrial action of a selective character". As you will be aware, Mr. Speaker, during the next three days workers in the National Health Service will be in dispute with the Government. The reason I request the debate urgently is that we must discuss this important matter before the Summer Recess. It is a specific request because the Government have refused a new pay offer to increase their miserable offer to the NHS workers. It is important because there are more than 1,000,000 employees in the National Health Service—the largest collective bargaining group in Britain—who are doing some of the lowest paid, dirtiest and most important jobs in society. It is crucial that we get their pay right.

The matter is important because the workers have been treated badly. The 6 per cent. pay offer to some workers will produce small increases. The 4 per cent. increase to the Secretary of State will produce a cash increase of £27·98 a week. That compares with an increase of £3·54 a week before stoppages to an NHS domestic.

The matter is important because we have had no debate in Government time on this issue and because we wish an opportunity to discuss the Government's political priorities. Why should the Government be prepared to spend huge, undisclosed sums on the Falklands crisis by sending a task force there, but refuse to make a decent and respectable pay offer to end the low pay of NHS workers? For those reasons, Mr. Speaker, I hope that you will give my application serious consideration.