HC Deb 11 May 1883 vol 279 cc527-9

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he can now inform the House by what means he proposes to substitute lump sums for heritable pensions in the Annuity Bills relating to Lords Alcester and Wolseley?


I feel, Sir, that in answering this Question I ought to treat it as a dry matter of fact, and to refrain for the present from explaining the reasons which have influenced Her Majesty's Government in coming to the decision they have arrived at. After full consideration of all the circumstances of the case, and after consulting various public interests, the Government have come to the conclusion that they ought to alter the basis of their Bills from an annuity, which has been the usual course, to what is called in the Question a lump sum, and the lump sum which they propose to offer, having regard to the fact that this is a new development of the proposal laid before the House, will be £25,000 for Lord Alcester and £30,000 for Lord Wolseley. The course of proceeding would be this. In order to be perfectly regular, it would be right to set up Committees in order to vote these lump sums, because from the nature of the case contemplated in the original proposal with regard to the pensions, which had not reference simply to lives in existence, it is impossible to say with that certainty which the House is ordinarily entitled to exact that these lump sums are within the value of the annuities, or that the precise actuarial value can be stated. We shall, therefore, set up these Committees and take the Report of the Resolutions, and then I shall move to instruct the Committees on the Bills to insert these lump sums, and upon that Instruction a convenient opportunity for making a statement will arise.


Will the right hon. Gentleman name a day when the Bill will be brought forward?


I cannot state this at present; but I propose to take the preliminary stages on the very first day that Parliament re-assembles; but I will take care to make some convenient arrangement for the discussion of the matter when I move the Instructions.


May I ask whether there is any necessity for legislation, and why the lump sums should not be voted in the Estimates, as in the case of Sir Frederick Roberts and Sir Donald Stewart?


Sir, the consideration which has weighed with the Government is one which I think the noble Lord will appreciate. This proceeding grew entirely out of a Message from the Crown sent not to the House of Commons only, but to the House of Lords; and the House of Lords, in answer to that Message, expressed its willingness to take the matter into consideration. Were we to proceed by a Vote in Supply, although it would have to us very great recommendations, inasmuch as it would be a far simpler method of proceeding, the House of Lords would be entirely ousted from all consideration in the subject. That would not be, I think, consistent with the respect which is due to an independent branch of the Legislature.


I presume the Resolutions will be so framed that any proposal to reduce the Vote can be moved in Committee; and, in that case, I imagine there would be no disposition in this part of the House to obstruct the preliminary stages?


Undoubtedly it would be open to any Member to move to reduce the sum.