I appreciate what I believe is the Deputy's considered view. As I said, I will discuss anything to do with the area under my purview. Everything should be on the agenda for discussion at least.
The Deputy is right on a number of points. Let me be clear. Various Labour Court determinations have stated that increments are part of basic pay - that is a fact. The Labour Court has determined this and it would be very difficult to unwind it. Increments have been part of the basic pay structure of public servants since the foundation of the State. It is a system we inherited that when people join, they know the pay range they will have. To interrupt that at a given point is a very dramatic change because people who are already maxed out, as it were, would not be touched, only those at the start of the scale. Do we suggest we will restore it in due course, so we build up a liability, or do we change the pay scales altogether? It is a very complex area.
The Deputy asked for a specific figure for those on annual salaries of more than €70,000 who are still on increments. While I cannot give the overall figure, I can give the figure for the Civil Service because I asked for it. We must remember there is an incremental scale, even at high rates, such as for principal officers and so on, because that is the way the structure has always been. There are 2,665 civil servants, or 14% of the total, who are eligible for increments above that pay grade.
As a final point, it would be extremely difficult to pick out any cohort of people and say we are going to alter fundamentally the basics of their pay. All of this is something I am open to considering, but I will not dislodge the fundamental architecture of Croke Park because it is delivering. As long as it continues to deliver, this Government will protect it.