Members' expenses

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Members' expenses

P.M.

A difficult and dangerous situation.
At Whitsun M.P.'s will hear views of constituencies – mainly unfavourable.
But there was strong case for relieving hardship. We had unanimous recommn. of Select Cttee. We conceded free vote : we cd. not have carried opposite view, with Whips. Important in tactics to pass buck to Opposn. When there was motion in Oppn. time, I thought we had succeeded in that. But now responsibility has bn. laid on us – I had thght we cd. avoid that.
Favour reachg. rapid solution. Tho' we cd. take 10/14 days to decide it.
We cd. not defeat a motion for increase of salary. But don't think we are tied to direct increase – if we think there is advantage in another method. But little scope for any compromise with Opposition.

M.F.

Suggest we accept vote of H/C. as establishg. what is desirable.
x | Don't think this is time to implement it.
| Ready to meet need in cases of hardship. Propose method for doing that.
If Oppn. voted v. that, we wd. do nothing. If they turned us out on Vote of Censure, Election on that issue wdn't be difficult.

P.M.

Alternative suggns. i) subsistence allowance, payable to any on demand, for every night H/C. sits.

H.C.

Vote need not commit us to more than accepting need for some improvement.
If we start from that, we might find a compromise acceptable to all Tories. If we cd., Labour might take it as better than nothing. Unless Govt. make a proposal, nothg. can happen.

R.A.B.

We deliberately decided to give a free vote. Cab. authorised me to support Deedes' amendmt. but to say we were free to decide our attitude in light of vote. The majority was in fact so large tht. we can't ignore it.
If we are to live in this House, we shall be in grave diffies. if we can't carry H/C. with us. We have said this was a H/C. matter.
I cdn't support action now which implies breach of faith on that majority.
Now understand tht. Party view is harder than I was led to believe.
Their view was not expd. in first debate.
Situation in Party is serious. It wd. be more serious if I failed to give effect to result of this free vote. I believe vote does commit us.
My first choice therefore wd. be to implement decision of H/C.
Furthest I cd. go wd. be some method which wd. give effect to its spirit. Can't break faith with H/C. (incldg. Opposition).
Most expenses schemes are not acceptable to H/C. – esp. Labour members.
Many Labour members don't incur more than £250 expenses. They want more salary.
Our room for manoeuvre is v. limited. I favour only minor adjustments & consultn. with Oppn. on them before we announce them publicly.

P.M.

I associate myself with R.A.B.
Not sure tht. steadfast advance on our course wd. involve serious evils.
Suppose we put down Suppl. & leave it to H/C. on free vote. It wd. be carried.

B.H.

No Minister cd. vote against it surely? Several would wish to.

P.M.

No members of Cab. wd. be justified in voting v. it.

M.F.

Cab. were not commd. to direct increase of salary. Only to Deedes' amendment. I voted v. the salary increase : as did 36 other Ministers, incldg. a no. of Cabinet.
We were to review posn. in light of vote. But were not bound to follow its result.

H.C.

Don't believe we are committed to salary increase. We are commd. to doing something – not necessarily that.

O.L.

Nor do I.

H.M.

Face situation as it is.
This is minor, cpd. with other crises we have overcome.
First, we must keep Party together. They are shocked at salary increase. They are the depressed middle class who can't keep pace with real c/living. They are bitter that other classes are O.K. – rich on capital, workers on rising wages.
Party in H/C. are at odds.
Govt. are in danger of becoming divided.
We must find a way of honouring our posn. vis-à-vis H/C. w'out wrecking Party.
Equal pay : carried on free vote in 1920 : not yet implemented.
Free vote doesn't relieve Govt. of duty to do what is right.
We can't have Govt. voting divided another time on this.
Our duty as Govt. to propose increased charge.
All say somethg. shd. be done. Majority, incldg. Labour, say by salary increase. Surely we can meet that on basis of x/.
Seek a method less objectionable to Party than salary increase.
Gain time & let bitterness subside. Immediate action wd. be represented as a temporary.

P.M.

If Cab. can find themselves united on a method, this wd. rally Party.
On reflection, agree tht. on a matter involving executive action members of Govt. cd. not vote in difft. lobbies.

W.

Feeling in constituencies is firm v. salary increase – & will remain so. Wd. not be adamant v. a difft. method.

Sw.

Recalled original view of Cab. – firmly v. salary increase.
Duty of Govt. to do what is right. This transcends H/C.

Sal.

Up to now Peers have held off this discussion.
This has now ceased to be a mere H/C. matter. Involves wages.
Affects posn. of Party in country.
I shd. find it diff. to accept view tht. a H/C. vote binds Govt. inevitably. Govt. shd. do what they think is right : Parlt. can reject it, if it will. Vote shdn't dominate policy.
Analyse vote. Vast majority of Tories were opposed to salary increase. Party in country takes same view. Unjustifiable to go fwd. at once with that.
Equally, not practicable to do nothing.
Only middle course is to seek tempy. means of easing hardship.
Agree that won't meet poorer Labour members. But is does relieve them to some extent.
I wd. like to put Deedes' plan to H/C. If they rejected it, we shd. have to wait until after Election to do anything.

W.

Subsistence allowance wd. be even more acceptable in H/C.

B.H.

1922 Chairman told me tht. Tories in H/C. wd. accept x/. if method followed was subsistence allowances pro. tem.

W.M.

At end of speech RAB. said Govt. must consider decision of H/C.
Open to us surely to consider method.

M.F.

"Wide measure of agreement betwn. Parties" has not bn. secured by this vote. Only 30 Tories voted for salary increase.

P.M.

Surely RAB reserved Govt.'s right to interpret view of H/C. as reflected in the vote. We were not accepting vote as compelling executive decision.

H.C.

Doubt if even Labour assumed that view.

B.H.

We know that they wd. accept less than £500 salary increase.

Sim.

No charge of b/faith cd. lie v. RAB if he did not propose £500 salary increase.

Al.

Wd. it be poss. to give individual Members choice between salary or allowances?

P.M.

Wd. attract objns. from both sides.

H.M.

We must implement highest common measure of agreement in H/C.
5/6ths of Tories are opposed to salary increase. Can't do that.

R.A.B.

Do we exclude discn. with Opposn.

Sal.

No – at proper time. But not before Cabinet have discussed a plan.

H.C.

Agree.

R.A.B.

Wd. get it back to "wide measure of agreemt. between Parties".

Taken from C. 38(54) - Meeting held on 2 June 1954.