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Monday, May 16, 2005

A fair wage regardless of gender

There is something disturbingly ironic about the fact that the new Minister for Women will be carrying out the role without a ministerial salary. Clearly, her first campaign has to be on the issue of equal pay.
Firstly, you will find that Meg Munn is the Deputy minister for Women and Equality (parliamentary under secretary of state at the DTI) – and not THE minister for women, as Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell holds that post at cabinet level.

Secondly, there are a certain number of unpaid ministerial posts within Government, the Lord Sainsbury (Minister for Science), the Lord Drayson (Minister for Defence procurement) are unpaid, so was Phil Hope when he was a junior minister in the ODPM.

The fact that Meg Munn has responsibility solely for Women and Equality is a huge step forward, as previously, this task fell to Jacqui Smith, who was Minister of state for Industry before her move to the DfES.

And as your party are all in favour in scrapping the DTI, I’m sure you’d be the first to complain if the Government ‘paid’ eight ministers in that department!! (Being that two are unpaid, six are paid)

If you are so concerned about unpaid junior ministers, will you take the same stance against unpaid Deputy ministers in the Welsh Assembly government?
The fact of the payment was not the issue as you will see if you re-read my comment. It was the symbolism. As for Deputy Ministers in the Assembly, then once we have a defined role for them I will be happy to support payment.
This is from the morning lobby briefing at No. 10 this morning
Asked if it was acceptable to have an unpaid minister for women, the PMOS said that there had in the past been various ministers, who, because of the limits on the size of Government have been unpaid. The important thing was that we had a representative at Cabinet level in Tessa Jowell looking after equality issues and a very energetic and capable minister, Meg Munn.

So what would you have defined your role as being when you were a Deputy Minister?
I know what the spin is. In fact if you clicked onto the hotlink you could read it first hand.

The problem when I was Deputy Minister was that there was no clearly defined role. The definition I was referring to however was a technical matter.

Essentially, the House Committee is working on clearly defining duties and responsibilities and then enshrining these in Standing Orders together with a limit on numbers. Once this has been done then we can make a case to the SSRB for a salary to be allocated to the post.
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It’s not spin, Peter, its fact. There’s a limit on the amount of ministers – and if I had a copy of Erskine May “Parliamentary Practice” to hand, I’d be able to quote you the precise number! So, you expect there to be unpaid ministers, I suppose it’s just unfortunate that one of the unpaid ministers this time around just happens to be the deputy minister for women and equality! But I’m sure Meg Munn will do a great job.

Well, I think as things stand – the responsibilities of the deputy ministers are quite straightforward, Tamsin Dunwoody-K has a responsibility for Economic development and transport, with specific responsibilities for Transport, Huw Lewis is responsible for communities (Communities First in particular) within the social justice portfolio, John Griffiths has responsibility for older people and public health, and Chris Chapman has responsibility for 14-19 education, and various aspects of local government and public services within the FLGPS portfolio.

I personally believe that as more responsibilities are devolved to the Assembly, there will be a greater need for deputy minister support for all ministers, not only the ones that have DM support at present.
Yeh, whatever.

I am not advocating that Ministers are unpaid as you suggest, rather the opposite.

As for Deputy Ministers in the Assembly it does seem straightforward doesn't it? But if we are to pay them, which I believe that we should, then we need to make a case for the Senior Salaries Review Board.

That means enshrining the post in standing orders, defining responsibilities and delegations and making a ruling on how many there can be. It is a technical issue not a political one!
There’s no point questioning the facts, there are, roughly, 109 paid positions in Government(Cabinet members (23), Law officers (3), Ministers of State, Parliamentary under secretaries, Whips etc) – so they really do need to draw the line somewhere!!

I believe the imminent publication of a White paper setting out the future powers of the Assembly, which will, I presume, include proposals to abolish the current corporate structure of the Assembly and have a separate ‘Executive’ along with the ‘Legislature’, will include the role of Deputy Ministers.

But on the whole, I agree with what you’re saying.
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