HC Deb 05 July 1962 vol 662 cc832-4

Order for Second Reading read.

9.57 p.m.

Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)

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

I wish to make it clear to hon. Members that this Bill does not effect any change whatever either in the contributions payable to the Members' Fund by hon. Members or by the Treasury, or in the conditions under which payments are made from the Fund to ex-Members or to their widows and dependent children. The other day hon. Members generously agreed to increase their contributions to the Fund, and we are grateful for the increase in the grant-in-aid from the Treasury. This has enabled us to be a little more generous to many of our older colleagues who have served this House and the nation for a long period.

I wish to take this opportunity to convey to the Government, to the Treasury and to hon. Members the expressions of gratitude which have reached us as trustees from many of our old colleagues. The slightly increased grant which we have been able to make has lessened the anxiety that they feel in the eventide of their lives. This is a very great comfort to us.

The Bill deals solely with the power of the trustees of the Fund to invest the funds which are entrusted to their care.

It being Ten o'clock Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER interrupted the business. Proceedings on the House of Commons Members' Fund Bill exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House).—[Mr. Iain Macleod.]

Mr. Griffiths

I was saying that the Bill deals solely with the power vested in the trustees to invest the funds entrusted to our care. These are at present governed by the House of Commons Members' Fund Act, 1960. We found from our experience that its specific provisions, its rigidity—far more rigid than other Acts passed by this House governing trusts of this kind—placed us at a disadvantage in that we were not able to use and vary our investments in such a way as to bring benefits to the Fund.

We took our problem to the Leader of the House, and I want to express for my fellow trustees our thanks to him for meeting us and for listening to us. I thank him and the Treasury and the leaders of the parties for helping us in this way. We put our case to them, they listened to us, and they thought that we were disadvantaged and that we ought to have a more varied power. We asked them if they would incorporate these powers in a Bill, with the expert advice that was available to them. They have done so, and this Bill is the result.

I am glad to see the Financial Secretary to the Treasury here, and I am sure that he will be able and ready to answer any questions. All I can say on behalf of the trustees is that we express thanks for the wider power embodied in the Bill, which I commend to the House in the hope that it will receive a unanimous Second Reading.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. J. E. B. Hill.]

Committee Tomorrow.