HC Deb 26 March 1964 vol 692 cc648-50
Q1. Mr. Diamond

asked the Prime Minister whether, to aid the deliberations of the Committee on Members' pay, he will institute an actuarial inquiry as to the expectation of life of Members of the House of Commons at ages 50, 55, 60 and 65 as compared with the average expectation at these several ages.

The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

I think this is a matter for the Committee in the first instance.

Mr. Diamond

Is the Prime Minister aware that the 10 deaths of hon. Members which occurred recently, up to the time immediately before my putting down this Queston, were at the average age of 59? Is he further aware that five of those were Conservatives, and that they died at the average age of 57? Is he yet further aware that considerable pressure is put upon hon. Members and right hon. Members as a result of which, I believe, many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen are compelled to retire from this House at an early age—and that if that were not the case neither the right hon. Gentleman himself nor my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) would be leading their respective parties at the forthcoming General Election? Finally, is he aware that all the indications are that it is the compulsion which is put upon most hon. Members to have to earn a living by doing two jobs which results in this unsatisfactory situation, and that they should at least all be paid a living wage?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of all these facts, and that we probably all work too hard. The hon. Member seems to have all the statistics for which he has asked me. Perhaps he will supply them to the Committee, instead of asking me to do so.

Mr. Fell

On a point of order. I know that the question of time-keeping is a very difficult one. I did not raise this point at the time, because I wanted to hear Big Ben strike—but you asked for Questions to the Prime Minister just before a quarter to twelve, Mr. Speaker. A very important Question, No. 38, would have been called otherwise. As we have now missed it, is it possible to do anything about it?

Mr. Speaker

It would not have been called, because the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Sir W. Teeling) is not here.

Mr. Fell

He is.

Sir W. Teeling


Mr. Speaker

In that case, I apologise. But do not let us waste time about it. If I misread the clock it is usually to the general advantage that I should be allowed to do so.

Mr. Shinwell

On the original Question, has it occurred to the right hon Gentleman and to my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond) that if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen would live a simple and natural life they would live longer?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman is a most splendid advertisement for what he is saying.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Will my right hon. Friend consider recommending to the Committee this rather simple actuarial survey, because it touches the question of the modernisation of Parliament? Undoubtedly the peculiar hours of work here have an effect on the lives of hon. Members in their fifties, as evidenced by the unfortunate illness of my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro).

The Prime Minister

If there are any statistics which the Committee wants and the Government can help, they will supply them.