HC Deb 08 April 1957 vol 568 cc910-1

Order for Second Reading read.

8.25 p.m.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. J. Enoch Powell)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

On 7th March last, this House, on the Motion of the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Viant), passed a Resolution which substantially raised the payments which may be made out of the House of Commons Members' Fund and the maximum incomes of the persons to whom those payments may be made. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had previously indicated, on 22nd February, that if the House of Commons decided so to increase the payments which were made, the Government would propose to make an annual grant from the Exchequer for the benefit of the Fund.

It is quite clear that its present revenues, derived from the contributions of Members and from the interest thereon, would be inadequate to support the new scales. Accordingly, the Bill, as its main purpose, makes it possible for annual contributions to be paid into the Fund by the Exchequer. It is intended that the annual sum shall be £10,000, but provision is taken in the Bill that by Treasury Order, subject to annulment, that figure can be raised when the state of the Fund, its income and the required payments make that appear desirable.

There is one minor purpose which is covered by the Bill at the desire of the trustees. At present, the trustees have no power to invest moneys in short-term loans to local authorities. At the moment, such short-term loans offer certain advantages over other forms of investment serving the same purpose. Accordingly, the principal Act will be amended by the Bill to make it possible for the Trustees to make loans of that kind.

However, as I say, the main purpose of the Bill, and one with which I feel sure the House will be in agreement, is to enable the payment of a substantial sum in aid of the Fund out of the Exchequer.

8.27 p.m.

Mr. S. P. Viant (Willesden, West)

On behalf of the trustees of the Fund, I desire to express our appreciation at the manner in which the Government have facilitated the Bill. In addition to the grant, it gives power to the trustees, as the Financial Secretary has said, to engage in short-term investments. This was done at the express desire of the trustees and I wish to record my gratitude for the manner in which the Government have facilitated this.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Redmayne.]

Committee Tomorrow.