Regional Pay

Part of Opposition Day — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:55 pm on 20th June 2012.

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Photo of Francis Maude Francis Maude The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office 4:55 pm, 20th June 2012

I beg to move an amendment, to leave out from “House”
to the end of the Question and add:

“notes the importance of recruiting, retaining and motivating staff and keeping tight control of public spending;
further notes that the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, first proposed a fair framework for local and regional flexibility for pay in his statement to the House of 9 June 2003;
supports the Government in asking the widely respected independent pay review bodies to consider how public sector pay can be made more responsive to local labour markets;
and believes the Government is correct in awaiting the conclusions of those deliberations before making a decision on bringing forward proposals in respect of public sector pay’.

The shadow Chief Secretary, Rachel Reeves, began by quoting the Chancellor, so let me quote the Chancellor a little more extensively:

“I can tell the House that the British economy is…better placed to recognise local and regional conditions in pay”.

He continued that, in future, we therefore plan that

“remits for pay review bodies and for public sector workers, including the civil service, will include a stronger local and regional dimension”.—[Hansard, 9 April 2003; Vol. 403, c. 283.]

That was the Chancellor in 2003, the previous Prime Minister. He set that proposal out at time when his advisers were the current Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Chancellor. I do not know whether the shadow Chancellor wrote that passage for the Budget speech—a lot of the Budgets around that time turned out to be “Balls”. Did he write it? Does he agree with it? If not, what has changed in the meantime? [ Interruption. ] It was clearly the best the right hon. Gentleman could do at that time. I shall come to the history behind the current Government’s approach, because the idea that it is a dramatic new departure is absurd. There is quite a long history, but we now have the opportunity to explore it.