HC Deb 22 May 1972 vol 837 cc1153-84

Order for Second Reading read.

10.54 p.m.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Robert Carr)

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

This Bill, like all Bills dealing with pension problems, must appear rather long and complicated in detail, but it is simple in purpose and I have a naïve, but I hope justified, belief that it is noncontroversial in nature and will be welcomed on all sides of the House. Spurred on by that hope and also by the hour, while I must explain it at a certain length, I hope that the House will not expect me to go into all the many details which, if necessary, can be dealt with in Committee.

The Bill gives effect to the recommendations on pensions contained in the First Report of the Review Body on Top Salaries—Ministers of the Crown and Members of Parliament, under the chairmanship of Lord Boyle. The Government announced on 6th December last year that we accepted the Committee's recommendations as they stood. The Ministerial and Other Salaries Act dealt with the recommendations on salaries and related matters; this Bill completes the job by dealing with the pensions side of the problem.

I turn to the question of what the Bill provides. There are four principal features. First, there are the improvements to the Members' contributory pension scheme. Secondly, there is the provision for optional supplementary arrangements for Ministers and certain other office holders who are defined in Clause 2(1). Thirdly, there are the changes in the pension arrangements for the office of Prime Minister, the office of Mr. Speaker, and the office of Lord Chancellor. And, finally, there is the important Clause 31, which brings within the purview of the Pensions (Increase) Act pensions payable under the present Members' scheme and under Part I of the Bill. The pensions of the three high offices are already covered by the Pensions (Increase) Act.

Let me take, first, the new arrangements proposed for Members of this House. Perhaps the strangest feature of the 1965 scheme, at least as seen in the light of today's practice, is that its contributions and benefits are expressed in fixed money terms. One result of this is that there is no automatic adjustment when salaries change and there therefore has to be new legislation from time to time if both contributions and benefits are not to become out of date. The new scheme will follow the normal pattern of terminal salary schemes and thus become self-adjusting in this respect.

The Bill provides for benefits to he related to length of service and to the salary in the period immediately before retirement. Pension will build up at one-sixtieth of the salary earned in the last year for each year of service. This would provide a pension of two-thirds final salary after 40 years' service, a proportion of which may be commuted for a lump sum. Though expressed in a different way, this is roughly equivalent to the normal entitlement in the public services. Thus we have pensions for service in this House on a very similar basis to public service pensions generally.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)

The right hon. Gentleman says roughly ". He will interpose there, in parenthesis, the fact that whereas the public service—I assume that he is referring to the Civil Service—is on a non-contributory basis, this will be on a contributory basis, with the exception of the three office holders to whom he has referred.

Mr. Carr

It is true about the Civil Service, but there is a large remainder in the public service where pensions are contributory. I take the point made by the hon. Member about the Civil Service.

Under the present scheme the qualifying period is 10 years' service. Under the present scheme, no one with less than 10 years' service can earn any pension for himself or his widow. The Boyle Committee, conscious no doubt of the move to reduce the qualifying periods in public service schemes from ten to five years, and taking account of the usual length of a Parliament, settled upon a qualifying period of four years, and that is what the Bill will provide for.

Other notable features are the addition of a death-in-service gratuity of one year's salary, the option to retire on pension at age 60 with an actuarially reduced pension, and the more elastic method of final calculation which enables days and not only completed years of service to reckon. And some important features of the 1965 scheme, including transferability, are being re-enacted.

To pay for all this there has naturally to be some increase in contribution both by Members themselves and by the Exchequer. The present contribution for each Member is £150 per annum. This is to be raised to £225, but the amount is calculated, as I have explained, as 5 per cent. of salary so as to be self-adjusting if and when conditions change in the future. They can then be adjusted without the need for further legislation.

As the House will have seen from the Boyle Report, the approximate division between Members themselves and the Exchequer has been based on the relationship of three-eighths for Members and five-eighths for the Exchequer; and this is in line with normal modern practice, where the contribution of the employer is usually greater than that of the employee.

Mr. Albert Roberts (Normanton)

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how this compares with the pensions for members of the Bundestag or similar legislatures in the member countries of the Common Market?

Mr. Carr

I regret to say that I cannot give the hon. Member that information off hand, and I apologise for that fact. I will find it for him. But I would probably be right in saying that we are not now, any more than in the past, treating Members of the British Parliament generously when compared with Members of Parliament in most other countries. I am sorry that I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the precise information, but I think we shall still find that when we in this House compare ourselves with our colleagues in Parliaments elsewhere we are not treating ourselves with excessive generosity, and perhaps that is as well not just for us to remember but for the British public to remember, too.

The arrangements for Ministers and office holders, as opposed to back-bench Members of Parliament, are a voluntary supplement to the Members' scheme, and those who opt to participate in them continue earning pensions under the Members' scheme, Basically, a Member of Parliament earns a pension of one-sixtieth of his salary of £4,500 for each year of service. A Minister or an office holder earns pension and pays contributions, if he wishes to do so, both contribution and pension being higher pro rata with the amount by which his salary exceeds the basic parliamentary salary.

That brings me to the three high offices—the office of the Prime Minister, the office of Mr. Speaker and the office of Lord Chancellor. As the House will know, it has been long established in Statute that the holders of these three offices should be awarded pensions fixed by Statute and irrespective of length of service, and not as part of the superannuation scheme. The Boyle Committee was anxious, whilst maintaining this basic principle, so long established, to uprate the existing pensions and, at the same time, to provide an automatic relationship between pension and salary.

When a Member proceeds to one of these three high offices his contributions under the Members' scheme are returned to him. The Boyle Committee, when examining this matter and recommending on it, were under the misapprehension that the legislation promised in "Strategy for Pensions" by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services would have prevented the return of their contributions at any stage. This led the Committee to recommend that in future holders of the three high offices concerned should remain in the Members' pension scheme. That, however, would have produced some rather strange anomalies. I am glad to say that further study has shown that it is consistent with my right hon. Friend's proposals for future pension arrangements to provide for the ultimate return of these contributions.

The Government have made this one real departure—I think that it is the only one—from the recommendations of the Boyle Committee simply and solely because the recommendation was due to the Committee having been insufficiently advised on this matter.

I come now to the application of the Pensions (Increase) Act. Clause 31 of the Bill has two effects. First, existing pensioners under the present scheme will be able to benefit, as soon as the necessary regulations can be made, from increases already awarded under the Pensions (Increase) Act. In these matters one cannot be precise about individual cases, but on this occasion the broad effect will be to raise the pensions of existing pensioners to the approximate level they would now receive under the new scheme if they were retired under it with the records of service they have actually rendered. The effect of the Pensions (Increase) Act would bring those past pensioners, from 1964 onwards, up to the same levels of pensions as will be earned by we who are Members of the House now and who will be retiring in the future.

The second effect of Clause 31 is that pensions covered by the Bill—that is, the new pensions coming into effect—will be included in the normal reviews in future, and increases will be payable, where appropriate, within the ceiling of the current rate, under regulations to be made under the Pensions (Increase) Act.

I turn finally to the question of the Members who retired before the introduction of the existing pension scheme in October, 1964. This is a matter which properly gives some concern to us and to some of our ex-colleagues who retired before that date. That Boyle Committee re-examined this but concluded, just as the Lawrence Committee before had concluded, that it could not recommend any departure from the position which was embodied in the Act of 1965, as recommended by the Lawrence Committee. That conclusion was that the new scheme could not be applied retrospectively to the benefit of those who had already retired.

I regret that the Government, having considered the matter very carefully, would not feel justified in overriding this careful reconsideration, which in any event conforms to normal pensions practice. At the same time, we are conscious of the special needs of some ex-Members and their widows, perhaps all the more so because Parliament in this country was fairly slow to provide its Members with a regular pension scheme. I am glad, therefore, to tell the House that some further help may be forthcoming from the Members' Fund. This is entirely a matter for the Trustees of the Fund and not for the Government, but I am able to say that the Trustees have it in mind to bring forward a Resolution for the consideration of the House which would allow an increase both in the scale of maximum grants and in the total assessable income which in principle they are bound by the Act under which they operate to take account.

In conclusion, may I say that if there are any immediate points which require further explanation tonight, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for the Civil Service Department will be ready to cover them at the end of the debate. Otherwise, if it is found convenient, he will gladly—perhaps even more gladly—hold his fire until the Committee stage. But we shall see what is for the convenience of the House as we progress. In any event, before Committee stage I propose to make available for all hon. Members a simple note of how the new scheme will work. I think that will be of help to all hon. Members. I hope—although I am not making a commitment about this—that when the Bill has been enacted I shall be able to prepare and present to all hon. Members an explanatory booklet, so that all hon. Members, past and present, will understand the provisions—

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)

Will the Leader of the House include in the explanatory booklet information about the old Members' Fund on which we rely and which gives rise to so much misunderstanding, to show that we are able to look after hon. Members who served the House in the past before the present scheme came into operation?

Mr. Carr

Yes, I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I will certainly do that, because that, too, would be useful; but I must not commit myself finally about this.

Although I said at the beginning that there is an immense amount of detail in the Bill, I have probably done enough at this time of night to explain its main purpose to the House. I commend the Bill to the House and ask the House to give it a Second Reading.

11.11 p.m.

Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)

This must be one of the few occasions on which Ministers are happy in their work. After a day in which most of the happiness has been on the Opposition benches and the discomfiture on the Government benches, this is a suitable climax to the day's proceedings.

The reason why so many hon. Members are absent is not solely that the hour is late but that many hon. Members feel that it would be unseemly for them to appear to be too closely interested in their pension scheme. They are leaving it to those of us who are fairly knowledgeable on this subject to sort it out for them.

The introduction of the Bill gives the House a further opportunity of expressing its appreciation to Lord Boyle and his Review Body for the painstaking work they did on our behalf and for the progressive tone of the report. The benefits in the Bill, which are considerable, are the result of recommendations of that body, and they have to be looked at alongside the other recommendations on pay and conditions of hon. Members which have already been implemented. We should appreciate the public service of those who are prepared to devote themselves to a task for which there is no reward, and I am sure that the Review Body in making its recommendations felt this to be so.

If I may be permitted a personal note of satisfaction, it is that we have come a gratifyingly long way since I introduced my Private Member's Bill to the House on 4th December, 1970, from which all blessings flow. The then Leader of the House obtained from the Government a decision on what they would do about Members' pay and allowances rather more quickly because my Bill was before the House. It concentrated their attention on the desirability of saying something. I am sure that the former Leader of the House would have been most upset if the Government had asked him to block a Private Member's Bill of the kind I introduced. One often sees little for one's work in the House, but I like to think that I have contributed to the benefits which the House is now to consider.

The House is also grateful for the concluding sentence of paragraph 121 of the Boyle Report—the only paragraph to be printed in italics—which has a preemptory tone about it: "It is in our view of the highest importance that these recommendations, both as they affect salaries and allowances, should now he implemented as a whole and in full." That was the sort of message that was sent to Her Majesty's Government, and it was the message that they took.

This Bill contains the recommendations regarding pensions for which legislation is necessary. I should like to say a word—because it is important especially in connection with possible changes which may be suggested to this Bill—on the general question of referring matters of pay and conditions of Members of Parliament and Ministers to an independent review body. To do this at one time was regarded as most inappropriate, undignified, derogatory to the sovereignty of the House, an evasion of responsibility, which was hardly likely to be commended by the public outside. For many years we tried to deal with these things ourselves. Indeed, in 1953 we appointed a Select Committee hoping that that would carry more conviction and bring about changes which might otherwise be slow in coming by decision only of the Government of the day. We were all embarrassed about fixing our own pay and determining our own conditions of service.

Eventually, in 1963 all parties agreed, after many years of shilly-shallying on this question, that the whole matter should be referred to an independent committee which we now call the Lawrence Committee. That Committee was appointed before a General Election was bound to be held not later than a date in 1964, and it was agreed by all parties that the Lawrence Committee should report after the General Election and put its report on the table of the incoming Government, whoever it was.

The gentlemen's agreement was that the new Government, whoever it was, would implement the recommendations of the Lawrence Committee. I was a member of the Government on whose table the Lawrence Report was put, and one saw at once the difficulty of that kind of inheritance. At a time when economic problems were gathering around and political considerations were involved, it was a very difficult task for an incoming Government to look at recommendations for substantial improvements in the conditions of Members of Parliament as one of their first items of business.

We realised that many people would say, "The first thing they did was to improve their own salaries—not those of the old-age pensioners." This, indeed, is what we did because we were under a moral obligation to implement the Lawrence Report. We did, however, modify it in one important respect. We did not implement in full the recommendations regarding ministerial salaries, although we implemented the rest, including the pensions proposals.

This brings me to the question: when a matter is referred to an independent review body of any kind, how should the House treat the report when it gets it? I think the principle we observe is that unless there are compelling reasons—very strong reasons indeed—for modifying the report of an independent committee, we should accept it as being their judgment on a problem which we have not felt able to judge for ourselves. That seems to me to be the general policy of the matter—far better, incidentally, than the experience that we had as a result of the Select Committee in 1953 when we made recommendations to this House which were debated but because the Government would not put down the necessary Money Resolution we waited four years for the recommendations of the Select Committee to be implemented. Things are far better now, and we are grateful not only to the independent committees which have made recommendations but to Government for having accepted them.

In the Lawrence recommendations regarding the pensions of Members there was included an important proviso in respect of reckonable past service. I shall come to that later, because it relates to a group of former Members who still feel somewhat ill treated by the conditions which the Labour Government accepted from the Lawrence Committee in 1964 and which this Government have accepted from the Boyle Committee in 1972.

In paragraph 76 of its Report—I shall not read it now—the Lawrence Committee argued the case for a limitation on the reckonability of past service, and it put the period of back service to count at not more than 10 years. Any service over and above 10 years was to be disregarded. That is still the position. There are, therefore, two groups who required special attention in the preparation of this Bill.

The first is those who retired before 16th October, 1964, who were outside the Lawrence scheme entirely and outside the Boyle scheme entirely. At the conclusion of his speech, the Leader of the House mentioned steps which were being taken, in conjunction with the Trustees of the Members' Fund, to see whether some additional help might be forthcoming for those former Members in that group. I shall come to that later.

The others who needed consideration alongside the Boyle recommendations were those who retired between 1964 and the end of 1971; those, in other words, who were covered by the Lawrence Report and the 1965 Act but, because Boyle dealt with the future in this respect, not with the past, were not brought within the terms of the Boyle recommendations. The right hon. Gentleman has explained that that group will be dealt with under Clause 31 of the Bill, which will apply to them the benefits of the pensions increase legislation. I am satisfied that the effect of that will be to give to that group, those who retired from the House between October, 1964 and the end of 1971, a total pension which will leave them with little room for dissatisfaction as compared with the Boyle recommendations.

The proposals in the Bill enshrine some of the more progressive changes which have been brought about in the Civil Service and public service pension schemes. We can be glad that the Boyle Committee received evidence from the Civil Service Department, giving it a preview of changes which it was contemplated would be made in the Civil Service pension scheme, which Boyle has incorporated in the Report to us. This has saved a lot of trouble in seeking to amend the Bill to bring it into line with important changes in the Civil Service scheme.

One such change is the reckoning of service in days instead of years, removing a grievance from Members of Parliament and from people outside in the public sector affected by it. Another proposal is the averaging of final salary over the last 12 months instead of the three years' average in the Civil Service and the five years' average in the local government service. Another is the reckoning of the widow's pension at one-half of the pension of her late husband or his accrued pension rights under the new scheme. Also, there are improvements in children's pensions which follow the more progressive look of the public sector superannuation arrangements. Another important provision is the reduction from 10 years to tour of the qualifying period, a significant change for many Members.

There is no doubt that the Boyle scheme and the Bill which implements it represent a great improvement in many respects over the Lawrence scheme. What is wrong with it? It is the duty of the Opposition to find what is wrong with anything and everything, and the Bill is no exception. I come straight away to the most contentious matter of all, Clause 14, which deals with pensions for widowers. This is a "Women's Lib" point and I warn the House that it will hear more of it in due course, because Clause 14 contains a very serious form of discrimination against women. Instead of the Bill being a pioneering effort on equality of treatment, it provides for special conditions to apply to the granting of a pension to a widower. In order that the widower may get a pension from the death of a lady Member he must show that at the time of her death he was incapable by reason of age or bodily or mental infirmity of earning his own living and was wholly or mainly dependent on her". I will not pursue this matter now. It is very delicate and is more suitable for Committee treatment. I do not see on the benches behind me those who might make the strongest case for the removal of this infamous provision.

There is another woman's point in Clause 13. I know that I am banging my head on a brick wall for the present—it will not always be so—but I object to the remarriage disqualification and the cohabitation disqualification. I realise that Members of Parliament must not be in too great a hurry to bring about reforms which have moral as well as social implications. I can understand how odious and unfair might be the suggestions about Members of Parliament if we made a great point about the removal of either or both of these disqualifications. Nevertheless, I can give the House, from my own experience, examples of a widow receiving a pension and a man receiving a pension who came together wanting to marry at the age of 65 or 70 but were unable to do so because the woman would lose her pension and the man's pension was not enough to maintain them both. Under Clause 13, it is true, trustees are given special power to specify either that the marriage has ceased to subsist or that the pension should be payable, even though it has not so ceased. I agree that it is a safeguarding Clause of some importance in particular cases.

I will say no more about these matters at the moment. They have, of course, an important relationship with social security and all the rest of it, but I wish sometimes that our law would recognise the facts of life and not go moralising around the place, as nearly all our social security and tax laws do, on matters of private conduct.

I wish to revert to Clause 8 because here is a comfort. I did not realise until I went into it that in certain cases during the current year some hon. Members who might leave the House would get less under the Boyle proposals than they would under the 1965 Act. I believe that I am an example of this. That is because the Boyle salaries have not been in operation long enough for the benefit of the improved salaries to bring the pension above the Lawrence limit, but this is purely transitional and it is wholly safeguarded in Clause 8. By way of illustration, a Member who has done 18 years from 1954 would by mid-1972 qualify for a pension of £1,137 under the 1965 Act and £1,093 under the Bill. Therefore, some safeguard during that transitional period is necessary. I think it is provided in Clause 8.

I come to the retirement age. Is there anything wrong with that? It is a retirement age of 65 common to men and women. It follows the Lawrence recommendations which were accepted by the Labour Government, embodied in the 1965 Act and are continued here, with, however, the qualification that a voluntary retirement age of 60 is admitted for both sexes with an adjustment of pension.

Some hon. Members have complained to me about the retirement age, but I put this to them. Is the alternative to follow the Civil Service rule of retirement at 60? We have this through the optional scheme with the opportunity of commuting part of pension. We would not wish, I think, to adopt the national insurance differential of five years; I do not think that would be acceptable to us. I think, therefore, that 65 is right because we are not under any compulsory retirement age. I need scarcely say that, as a senior Member of the House. Therefore, Members have a degree of personal choice in the matter sometimes about the timing of their retirement. After all, if they get over the hump of selection at whatever age and Parliament lasts for a full five years, they are safe and need not retire until the end of a Parliament. I am, therefore, satisfied with the age of retirement at 65 for both sexes.

I come to pensions for Prime Ministers and Mr. Speaker. Is anything wrong with that? I am bound to say there is, because these proposals apply only to present and future holders of those offices. This leads to some very important exclusions. I will not reveal to the House who they are. Hon. Members can probably use their own recollection of who was Prime Minister and who still survives as a Prime Minister from preceding Governments. I shall therefore spare the feelings of the House by not dwelling on the ensuing hardship imposed upon some right hon. Gentlemen, nor will I dwell on the effect on Ministers because, while I am sure that there is no political point in it, all those who are undeservedly Ministers today are to get the advantage of the Boyle recommendations as regards Ministers and those who unhappily left office in the middle of 1970 are not covered by the Boyle proposals, because the Boyle Report does not deal with Ministers who retired from office before the appointed day of 1st April, 1972. As I say, however, these are matters for the more intimate atmosphere of the Committee stage of the Bill.

Now, calculation of pension. Is one-sixtieth right? Here there will be some query. It was dealt with very fully by the Boyle Report in paragraph 64 and subsequent paragraphs on page 22. We are not strictly parallel with civil servants, who have a career expectation whereas we have not. Nevertheless we are given advantages in our pension scheme that civil servants do not have. Therefore, one looks not only at sixtieths but at other qualifying conditions as well. The one-sixtieth is the pre-1909 reckonability for pension of the Civil Service, before the gratuity was introduced. Still we can look at that.

I come to the two major problems. I have already dealt with those who retired from the House between October, 1964 and December, 1971. I think we can feel satisfied that they are all right. But the pre-1964 Members who were left out of Lawrence and are also excluded from Boyle are clearly in a different category. The Lord President has kindly given the House an indication of what the Trustees have in mind. This will not be wholly satisfactory to some of those concerned, but we must face the fact that to provide for a pension as of right for former Members who were not in the House at the time of the introduction of the 1965 scheme would require special action by legislation.

There is a principle involved here. I do not want to make too much of it, but anyone connected with the public sector knows that there is still an outstanding grievance on the question of all service to count. Members of Parliament cannot wholly escape the comparison that will be drawn in all these matters between what they are doing for themselves and what other public servants are asking Parliament to do for them. We must tread with great care in a matter of this sort.

I confess that in 1964 in this regard we took the view that Lawrence had considered it, had come to a judgment and we should accept the Lawrence recommendations. That is what we did. Now we are confronted with a precisely similar situation in relation to Boyle. I think we can go over this ground a little more closely in Committee, although it will not be relevant to the Bill. Probably a little more information will be available then that it would be appropriate to give as to how the Members' Fund could cope with those cases.

No one is more conscious of the unwelcome nature of a means test than are Members of Parliament. That is perhaps a good thing. Probably some people will take a little comfort from the fact that when means tests are applied to Members of Parliament they do not like them. Although this is a very liberal basis upon which an assessment of existing resources is made, it requires certain disclosure of personal affairs. If it can be called a means test, it is a very mild one and the targets of the allowance and the disregards which are provided for in the scheme both lead to a very satisfactory level of final income in many cases. In fact, it will be necessary, I understand, to provide in the Members' Fund that the allowance given in certain cases shall not exceed what those Members would have got under the Boyle proposals. Certainly as regards certain widows that limitation will be necessary, which shows how good the Members' Fund provision can be in cases such as that.

We are grateful to the Lord President for introducing the Bill in this agreeable way. It is a welcome Bill, and we congratulate ourselves on what Boyle has done for us. We can fully justify what is being done. I can only echo what the right hon. Gentleman said when he was asked about the conditions of members of legislatures elsewhere. We all know from our travels and our studies that we probably treat ourselves less generously than the members of any other legislature in the world.

11.40 p.m.

Sir Brandon Rhys Williams (Kensington, South)

Whereas some right hon. and hon. Members are counting the years to their retirement, I am sure that many others are counting the minutes to the end of this debate. For that reason, it is appropriate for me to speak only briefly, especially after the commendations of the Bill from right hon. Members on both sides.

In allocating to ourselves £500,000 a year for our pensions, we lay ourselves open to investigation by people interested in the revision of pension systems, whether national insurance or occupational pensions. In this very interesting Bill there are some precedents which I have no doubt will be made use of by people who argue for the reform of pension schemes. If no one else is disposed to use these precedents, at all events I shall seek to bring them to the attention of the House.

First, we see the introduction of a variable terminal age in Clause 7. This is an extremely welcome and humane development. But I cannot help wishing that we had sought long before this to introduce it into the national insurance scheme. It must be a commonplace that not everyone has the same length of service, because of health or other con- siderations, as his neighbour, and often it has seemed to me to be wrong that the national insurance scheme should insist that men should go on until 65 when women are entitled to retire at 60.

Some months ago, we had an amiable disagreement on this side of the House over the way in which one should treat, for instance, bank managers whose normal retirement age was 60 and who then applied for unemployment relief until they were eligible for pensions under national insurance at 65. The solution that I pressed on my right hon. and hon. Friends was that the national insurance scheme should be adapted to introduce this very same provision, namely a variable terminal age at the option of the beneficiary, which we are now proposing to offer ourselves. I do not think that we should simply support the Bill without recognising the implications of this important new departure.

In passing I might point out that by allowing retirement at any time between 60 and 65 under the proposed parliamentary scheme we are moving towards equality of the sexes in that the same system for choosing retirement age is applicable to both men and women.

As for occupational pension schemes, I am sure that note will be taken of the generous way in which Members of Parliament propose to deal with widows', widowers' and children's benefits. I am glad that in proposing his new strategy for pensions in his recent White Paper my right hon. Friend laid such heavy emphasis on the provision of half pensions for widows in occupational pension schemes after the introduction of his forthcoming Bill. The House will also be glad that so much emphasis has been placed on that intention. There will be very many occupational pension schemes which at the moment do not give provision for widows of the kind that we now propose to allocate to ourselves.

I come, then, to the most interesting point in the Bill, which has the widest implications for people in occupational pension schemes who are not Members of Parliament, namely, the way in which the Bill deals with transferability of pension rights.

It may be that I have not read it sufficiently carefully, and certainly I am open to correction by my right hon. Friend if that is the case. But it seems to me that what is proposed in the Bill is a plain breach of the heartless and completely wrong "mixed benefits" rule, which has been applied over the years by the Inland Revenue and which has resulted in tens of thousands of people losing their savings. I am delighted that this Bill may breach that rule, and I hope that it will soon mean an end to a rule which in my opinion should never be applied, especially at a time when there is a shake-out in management and so many people are having to leave their occupational pension schemes in the middle years of their careers.

Under Clause 8 I see that provision is made for the payment of a lump sum and, as far as I am able to understand the Bill, that lump sum can be claimed immediately upon leaving the House of Commons. Under Clause 21 provision appears to have been made for transfer payment to he requested at an actuarial value related to the amount of the Member's pension entitlement. I presume, though it may be that I have misread the Bill. that the transfer payment would be made in respect of the residual pension entitlement after the Member had claimed the lump sum available to him under Clause 8.

This is precisely the solution to the problem of the "mixed benefits rule which I had pressed on many occasions on my hon. and right hon. Friends and with which I had bored the House late at night at other times. On this occasion I will say no more, but I hope that the Lord President will accept my congratulations on bringing forward what is undoubtedly a timely and progressive Bill. I hope that he has not overlooked the fact that in setting precedents in this way he may be laying up arguments which will he heard again by another of his right hon. Friends.

11.48 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)

I rise to support the general principle of this Bill but I have some comments of an adverse nature to make about its contents. First I want to protest, as I did during the passage of the Measure dealing with Ministerial salaries and the Bill granting a pension to the former Speaker of the House, about the fact that the Government always seem to bring forward such Measures as the last item of business late at night. I am probably being hypercritical if I suggest that the reason is that the Government want the Press to go home and do not want the public to be too interested in this subject.

I should like the public to be interested and I should like the Press to give it publicity. It is relevant that the railway men should know we are discussing this and that the general public should know about it, too. I have a clear conscience on this, because unlike my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), I can go back 27 years, when I was probably the most unpopular Member of this House—as I probably am now because I was always campaigning for decent salaries and pensions for Members. Hardly a day went by when I did not put Questions and raise in the House in debate and in every other way the unfair way in which Members had been treated by all Governments.

This Bill makes quite an improvement, but again I must criticise the Government, because on examination it is possible to see how the crumbs are given to ordinary Members and the luscious cream cake goes to the few. I criticised the pension of the former Speaker and I was not popular. I explained then that there was nothing personal in it and that the former Speaker was and is a friend of mine. So, too, is the Lord Chancellor, and I have nothing personal against the Prime Minister. But I cannot for the life of me see that it is fair, right and proper that any man should take over a job and on his first day be entitled to a pension of £6,500. One day for £6,500. The Prime Minister may be in the job for only one day and he will get a pension of £7,500 a year. The Lord Chancellor does not even have to be in the job for a day. He merely has to swear the oath and take the seal of office and he will get a pension of £8,500 a year for the rest of his life. This is not fair, right or proper from the point of view of the nation or of Members of Parliament.

I want to show how shabbily Members of Parliament are treated under the Bill compared with others who are very well treated. This question has a bearing on the position of the railway men. I am not against Members getting pensions, but it is hypocritical, dishonest and crooked of the Government to spend £200,000 on a ballot to tell railway men that they are not entitled to a £20 basic wage for working——

Mr. R. Carr indicated dissent.

Mr. Lewis

This is true. The Government have been trying to prevent the railway men from getting a basic wage of £20. That is what the railway men believe, and it is what I believe.

Mr. R. Carr

What the hon. Gentleman is saying is far removed from the question of Members' pensions, but it has been made known publicly and it is clear—the railway men know it quite well—that the railway men could have had their £20 a week minimum pay. The trouble was that they insisted that it must be reflected in percentage differentials throughout the scale. The offer of £20 a week has been available for a long time.

Mr. Lewis

I thank the right hon. Gentleman. What I am saying is relevant because it shows whether we should or should not agree to this Bill. The Government have been opposing—and I thank the Minister for admitting it—the railway men's claim because of the question of differentials. The Government have forced a ballot on the railway trade unions because they do not believe—and I will give the Minister his point—that there should be differentials throughout. The unions believe in adequate differentials. There is a differential between Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, and the Lord Chancellor, who, after one day's duty, can draw pensions of £6,500, £7,500 and £8,500 respectively. But the man working at the bench is not entitled to £20 or £25 a week.

Members of Parliament will receive £1,350. But there is a difference. They must contribute 5 per cent., which is the normal amount in the public service. That is fair enough and rightly so. I make no objection to that. But why should Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor be entitled to their pensions without making any contribution? If they were poor railway men I would accept that they could not afford to pay 5 per cent. But that is not the case with any of those gentlemen.

I took the opportunity of obtaining the figures to remind the House of what happened a short time ago. The Prime Minister received a 43 per cent. increase in his salary only a short while ago. In addition to that 43 per cent. increase, the Prime Minister enjoys a lot of other "perks", including a tax-free income, a house worth £2,000 or £3,000 a year, plus the furniture, cost of cleaning, and everything that goes with it. A West End estate agent told me that he reckoned the accommodation to be worth £10,000 a year. Then there is a car and a chauffeur and all the other things that go with the office.

The Lord Chancellor had a 58 per cent. increase and Mr. Speaker a 53 per increase. I have opposed these matters consistently. I am opposing these large percentage increases for the very reason that it was the present Government who told the railway men that they should accept a 12½ per cent increase.

But what about the percentage increases in terms of pensions? The Prime Minister's pension is to go up from £4,000 to £7,500, an 87 per cent. increase. The Lord Chancellor's pension increases from £6,250 to £8,500, a 36 per cent. increase. Mr. Speaker's increase—and he does not do quite so well, and perhaps we should try to help him—is from £5,000 to £6,500, which represents only a 30 per cent. increase.

Mr. Albert Roberts

Can my hon. Friend say what is the percentage increase for Members of Parliament?

Mr. Lewis

I wish my hon. Friend had told me that he intended to ask that question, because the Library, who are very good in these matters, would have worked it out for me. I cannot give him that figure but perhaps the Library could provide it. It is nowhere near the 87 per cent. pension increase that is being given to the Prime Minister or the 36 per cent. being given to the Lord Chancellor.

I object to the fact that Members of Parliament have to wait four years to qualify. Why do not Mr. Speaker and the Lord Chancellor have to wait four years to qualify for this pension? Equally, in regard to the ten-year qualification. I do not see why, because something happened in the days of Lawrence many years ago, we should stick to such a qualifying period.

I will have done 27 years by this June and my pension will be £1,350. And for that I have to wait until I am 65. I do not see why that should be the case. Such a stipulation is not laid down for Mr. Speaker or for the Prime Minister. Why the preferential treatment? I object to preferential treatment, whoever gets it.

I raised this same objection on the occasion of Mr. Speaker King's retirement, and I have objected previously to preferential treatment in respect of ministerial salaries.

Mr. Albert Roberts

Does my hon. Friend not agree that it is possible for an hon. Member to become Prime Minister not by merit but by courtesy?

Mr. Lewis

It may be by courtesy or by some strange process in the Tory Party. In fact, it is, I believe, now done by election. In those days it was done under a better arrangement. Nevertheless, I object to the fact that even now we have a situation in which a man like Lord Shinwell, who has given 40 consecutive years' service to Parliament, receives a pension of, I believe, £840 a year. That is not reasonable or right. Again, someone could become a Prime Minister within 12 months, or two years and go on to this pension of £7,500 a year.

On the question of percentages, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby said that the quotation of one-sixtieth was about right because the Civil Service was getting it. I did not know that that was the amount; I thought that it was one-fiftieth. If we say that that is right for the Civil Service, should not we also say that it is right to work on a non-contributory basis? If it is right that the Prime Minister's pension should be non-contributory, together with those of Mr. Speaker and the Lord Chancellor, I cannot see why the pensions, of Members of Parliament should not be on the same basis.

The Bill continues a number of anomalies. We are not doing well enough by those who left the House of Commons in earlier years. If a Member has served for 27 or 30 years I cannot see why he should not now receive the pension that is due to him for those years. I cannot see why those who have already suffered in not having a pension should not get it. I pay tribute to the trustees of the fund for what they have done, but they have worked on a means-test basis, although they have applied it generously and acted with great compassion. Hon. Members have not had a pension as of right, and we now have a chance to remedy that.

Those who will now benefit have nevertheless lost much money over the years, because they had to wait for years before getting the recent adjustment, and they have found that their pensions were pro tanto reduced because of the depreciation in their purchasing value. If we made up the pension in respect of the time they served in the House it would at least help to make up for some of their losses over the last 10, 12 or 15 years.

Mr. Albert Roberts

And in their time in the House they were receiving much lower salaries.

Mr. Lewis

As my hon. Friend says, when they were in the House they received much lower salaries, and their conditions were worse than they have been in recent years. When they were in the House they were underpaid and overworked, and they did not enjoy the many facilities that hon. Members now enjoy.

We cannot pay them for that lost time but we should be able in some way so to amend the Bill—and I have many Amendments ready—that any Members of Parliament, whatever the period they may have served, shall get a pension as of right for the time served. There cannot be many of these people left now—obviously they are getting older, if not old, so the amounts that would be due to them are reducing. That would help them to recoup some of the moneys they have lost in the past. While we are dealing with this Bill we should seek to put right a number of injustices that still exist.

No one will seek to oppose the principle of the Bill, but when we get to the Committee stage I have a couple of foolscap sheets of Amendments aimed at improving the Bill and helping those of whom I have been speaking. I hope that we shall do the thing properly, and not, as in the case of Lawrence, only in part. But I warn the Minister that I shall wish to see to it that as far as possible the Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker and the Lord Chancellor are dealt with fairly and properly, but on the same basis as Members of Parliament.

12.8 a.m.

Sir Robert Cary (Manchester, Withington)

I intervene as Chairman of the Trustees of the Members' Fund, and I say at once to the right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) how much the House enjoyed his speech. It was workmanlike, and given from deep experience. We well recall his Private Member's Bill in 1970 which was one of the main propellants of what we are now discussing. His service to the House in these difficult and delicate matters is greatly appreciated on both sides.

I speak in the presence of two of my Trustees—my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton), who is also Father of the House, and the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell). They are both compassionate and humane men, and I cannot speak too highly of the help that flows from them in looking after the affairs of hon. Members. These are sometimes delicate and difficult matters, and I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House on the way he has adjusted and directed his mind so quickly to them. The supplementary part of what he said concerned those who fall outside the ambit of either the Lawrence recommendations or those of the Boyle Committee.

The House of Commons Members' Fund is the Benevolent Fund of earlier years. I speak rather feelingly about it, because I was one of its architects. The distress witnessed in the House during the 'thirties, as my right hon. Friend the Father of the House will confirm, made some of us quite determined that we would alter that pattern, and begin with a benevolent fund of most modest proportions. It began in 1939 with a modest contribution of £6 a year from each Member. It did not pay a great amount. I cannot tell the House how much it has served the interests of many Members who served here all their years.

At the conclusion of his speech the right hon. Member for Sowerby said that sometimes the benefits now to come from the Members' Fund will almost equal those which come from the Boyle recommendations. That seems to me to be an admirable provision. The Trustees are to act, as always, as referees and recommenders in such matters. For someone belonging to that category, pre-Lawrence and pre-Boyle, with 21 years' service or more, the total income with this grant would not exceed £1,500 a year. But hon. Members on both sides of the House should bear in mind that if a General Election were to take place in 1974, quite a number of Members would have 10 years' credited service and 20 years' earned service, making 20 years in all claimed. That would give them a pension of £1,500 a year. So, by and large, some Members who draw on the Members' Fund may be as well off in terms of basic income as the Member who has a claim as of right in the Boyle recommendations.

There will always be this difference, that whereas the national pension and the grant paid from the Members' Fund will amount to £1,500 a year, the person who draws as a right from this Fund would also have the addition of the national pension. If one takes the £1,500 a year drawn from the contributory fund as a right and adds to that £400 a year of the national pension, that is close to a minimum income of £2,000 a year for that individual.

There are, I think, 76 beneficiaries of that old Fund. It is split between an equal number of men and women who have been concerned with the affairs of this House. I have worked on and studied this matter for many years. In my duties I sometimes visit elderly Members who served here years ago. Hon. Members may recall some of them, such as dear old Wilfred Burke, a former Member for Burnley, with whom I sat when he was nearly blind and had to peer through a gigantic magnifying glass to read the small print in Dod's Parliamentary Companion. I have visited others, and I always enjoy their interest and curiosity in the doings and deeds of the House. It is a very pleasurable duty for any Member of the House.

It is a particular pleasure for me because the House gives me my responsibilities as Chairman of the Trustees of both Funds.

There is one matter on which I agree with the right hon. Member for Sowerby, I do not like the widow's pension being denied—and taking only five words to do it—by Clause 13, which says that it should cease on remarriage or cohabitation. "Cohabitation" has desperately sinister overtones. It is not beyond the imagination of hon. Members to envisage the difficulties of a middle-aged woman who is denied a social facility which is neither socially harmful or improper. I hope that this part will be looked at again. It may be common form in pension schemes in industry with much the same provision, certainly on remarriage. There is nothing to prevent the House from originating a new provision, and in this I hope that the right hon. Member for Sowerby will get his wish.

The Review Body accepted the recommendations of the Trustees of the Members' Fund with one exception. The Trustees recommended that the widow's pension should be two-thirds of a Member's salary. The Review Body threw that out and put in its place a recommendation that if a Member died in service £4,500 should be paid to his estate. It is a good alternative. If I asked five widows whether they would prefer another £300 a year added to their pension or a lump sum of £4,500 added to the husband's estate I know what their choice would be. I am, therefore, willing to accept that recommendation of the Review Body.

When the Bill is passed, the first beneficiary, whom I will not name, will be an elderly, distinguished and likeable Member of the House. The Trustees were given the privilege of taking into consideration the wider context of a Member's family. We assist in the completion of the education of a child and in providing assistance on a family basis. I should like the Trustees to be given greater discretionary power in assisting the family collectively, particularly in the immediate years following a Member's death. All discretions have to be financed, but I will not go into that now.

On behalf of hon. Members on both sides of the House, I thank the Lord President for what he said tonight and for the way in which he addressed his mind to the subject. I hope the Bill will have a successful passage.

12.19 a.m.

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West) rose——

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)

It is unusual in a Second Reading debate for an hon. or right hon. Member to speak twice. I believe that the right hon. Member has spoken.

Mr. Pannell


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Then I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. Mr. Houghton.

Mr. Pannell

The Chair has changed but the House has remained much the same. It has been said that I have a facial resemblance to my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), and over the years I have been called in mistake for him and he has been called in mistake for me.

I want to say how glad I am to follow the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary). There is no one, in my experience since 1949, who deserves more from his fellow Members than does the hon. Gentleman. He is noted for his never-failing compassion and unvarying courtesy. He is prepared to travel long journeys to see old Members of this House, and not necessarily those from his own party. One remembers what a comfort it was when he visited Tom Brown in his later years. This House is very much a comradeship; good feeling runs right across it, and the hon. Gentleman is an exemplar of that. I was very proud to serve with him as a trustee.

I want to say a word or two in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis). It seems to me that he, who has taken a continued interest in these affairs, particularly in the middle 1950s when we were considering increasing Members' salaries, has fallen into one or two errors. One has to take this Bill as the last piece in a package deal. It is not only the pension that one has to consider. One has to bear in mind other things as well.

Let us consider what back-bench Members have got out of this. My hon.

Friend should remember that when he is returned at the next election he will not have lost the three weeks' salary that he has lost during previous elections. For those who are defeated there will be a three-months termination grant. In addition, for the dependant of any Member of this House who dies in the line of duty after 12 months' service there will be a payment of £4,500—and this is something which the public services do not enjoy. There is one such Member who has died since Christmas, and his dependant will benefit retrospectively from this fund. Also let my hon. Friend remember that there will be a Boyle Committee in each Parliament, and these matters will be brought up to date. This scheme is based on the emoluments which are paid in each Parliament, so that there will be no need for amending legislation.

May I now say a few words about the holders of high office, who have come in for some criticism. I do not think that one can consider the office of Speaker from the point of view of its occupancy being of long or short duration. We do not seem nowadays to elect anybody like Mr. Speaker Onslow who had the job for 33 years. The average duration seems to have been eight years; sometimes it has been for a shorter period.

Mr. Baldwin said that once a Member is installed in the great office of the Chair he must look neither to the right nor to the left but must devote himself to the House, that he should be granted an adequate pension and should not look elsewhere for any emoluments.

Mr. Albert Roberts

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that many Members enter the House having burned their boats?

Mr. Pannell

My hon. Friend had better not talk about burning boats. I sacrificed 15 years of superannuation service when I came to the House. My hon. Friend should not assume a virtue that he has not got. I was saying that the Speaker should look neither to right nor left for any additional emoluments. That is why I moved against Mr. Speaker Morrison when he took the post of Governor-General of Australia. I thought that most unseemly, and I hope that such a thing will never occur again.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

I take my right hon. Friends point that that may have been the position years ago, but he will agree, will he not, that it is not so now, because ex-Speakers, like ex-Prime Ministers, write their memoirs, go on radio and television, and make a good thing out of it, in addition to their pension? It is said that some ex-Prime Ministers get a quarter of a million out of it. Ex-Speakers are now taking jobs—I do not complain—going on radio and television and so on, and they are not hard up.

Mr. Pannell

These things are known to me just as they are to my hon. Friend. In my view, an ex-Prime Minister should write his memoirs. I happen to believe that history deserves to hear the inside story from a Prime Minister, though sometimes the book is so thick that it is suitable only as a doorstop. It is a debt he owes to posterity, and we are glad to hear about it.

I was saying that a Speaker ought to look neither to the right nor to the left. As for a Prime Minister, I think it is generally true that it should be enough that he has been Prime Minister. But I echo what the Leader of the House said, that we are not particularly generous to ex-holders of high office, ex-Ministers and the rest. The Lord Chancellor used to get his pension when he had been in office a month, I believe.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

One day—after he has taken the seals of office.

Mr. Pannell

One day now—I stand corrected. But he no longer practises at the Bar, though he serves as a Lord of Appeal and he has the rate for the job at the time. Those are three special offices, however, and I do not think that one can line them up with others.

I will not say what Lord Shinwell receives, save to tell my hon. Friend that his figure was incorrect.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

I was referring to his pension rights.

Mr. Pannell

For his pension rights. my hon. Friend's figure was incorrect. I do not mind telling my hon. Friend afterwards what it is. I do not wish to bruit matters of that sort about. His pension also will go up with the Boyle scheme; he is one of the beneficiaries from the 1964–70 group.

The Members' Pension Fund is largely kept going by the wise investment policy pursued as a result of the advice given free to the Fund by some of the best brokers in the country.

Now, a word on the question of remarriage and cohabitation. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby will know what I mean when I say that I think the provision in this respect to be quite unseemly and it ought to be struck out. I hope that an Amendment will be made to that end at the appropriate time. Generally speaking, considering that Members of Parliament go on to 65 or thereabouts and the spouse will usually be of about the same age, if they can get some comfort in their declining years, either through remarriage or cohabitation, good luck to them. I may say that I am a trustee of a pension fund outside, and I have moved an amendment to have a similarly unseemly provision struck out.

It can be said that Members of Parliament, if they marry a second time, have a tendency to marry young women. I believe that we have two or three 1906 widows on the pension fund list; it goes back as far as that. That shows that they preserve an interest in life and ensure their future, so to speak.

I serve on the Trustees, and I find it a moving experience to see the kaleidoscope of the long procession of names coming before us, names once great in past days in the House. I shall mention one case which, I know, will not offend anyone. In the context of another fund of which I am chairman, the Labour Party fund, we had a Mrs. Roberts, who had lived so long into her 90s that her children were too old to look after her. It suddenly struck me that her husband was F. O. Roberts, one of the great men of the movement. He was the first Minister of Pensions under a Labour Government. When I told that story to the Parliamentary Labour Party, an eminent member of my party, an ex-Cabinet Minister, said, "I am glad that you mentioned him. He got my mother a pension".

These are the things that happen in the course of serving this place. It is a great experience to serve one's fellow Members in this way and I am glad to be a member of a fund which is doing such a worthwhile job, well away from this Chamber, but all the better for that.

12.31 a.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Civil Service Department (Mr. Kenneth Baker)

The hour is late, the subject is complicated, and it is clear that we shall have an interesting Committee stage, so I will be brief.

We are implementing the recommendations of Boyle, nothing more and nothing less, just as the last Government implemented the recommendations of Lawrence, nothing more, nothing less. When we consider these proposals from a particular viewpoint we are tempted to introduce all sorts of little benefits which each of us, from our constituency experience or our personal experience, might like to see in any good pension scheme. But we are implementing Boyle, and that is why we have gone in for four years instead of 10 years, for 5 per cent. instead of a set sum, for sixtieths instead of some other figure, why we have gone for commutation and for age 60 instead of age 65, if Members want it on a reduced basis.

I would pay generous tribute to the right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) for improving the lot of hon. Members as regards salaries and pensions over the years. I am sure that when future hon. Members sink in retirement into their easy chairs and get out their pipes and slippers, they will say "God bless Douglas", or something to that effect.

He mentioned the position of widows and widowers under Clause 14. I found some of his arguments interesting but it would be wrong for us to take out of the Bill limitations about remarriage and cohabitation if we do not do that with the many other public service pensions. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that these limitations are in many pensions funds for which I now find myself responsible, and it would be wrong for hon. Members to give their widows or widowers certain rights which the general public service pensioners do not have. This is an economic, not a moral argument. The real argument concerns the elderly person who wants to marry again but would find it difficult because he or she will lose his or her pension entitlement.

I confirm the right hon. Gentleman's interpretation of Clause 8. This covers those hon. Members who die or retire between 1st January and 8th November this year. Dependent upon their service they will get better benefits from the old scheme than under the Bill as drafted; it is a transitional Clause.

On the question of the three high offices of State—the Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker and the Lord Chancellor—the right hon. Gentleman said that some former office holders were excluded. I will correct that, because none is excluded. I should be pleased to explain to him afterwards how they are not excluded, or he might like to press the point in Committee. They are treated in different ways, dependent upon the year in which the pension they will get was granted by Act of Parliament. It is a complicated matter for this late hour and I will sort it out in Committee.

The other basic principle of the Bill is that we cannot make retrospective changes. This is a basic principle of the Civil Service pension scheme and of most public service pension schemes. It puts us in a difficult position in dealing with hon. Members who served the House and retired before 1964 and who do not come into this scheme. They do not come into Lawrence and they will not come into this. As my right hon. Friend said, they will receive more generous treatment from the fund. If I may say so, the administration of that fund is entirely for the trustees of the fund.

I pay generous tribute to the chairman of the fund, my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary), for all the work he has done in this matter. He asked me specifically whether further discretionary powers could be taken as regards payments from the fund. I am advised that the trustees have that discretionary power but I will check the point again and perhaps I may refer to it in Committee.

As regards the specific posts of Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor, once again we are implementing the Boyle proposals. It has long been a tradition that these three posts have pensions attached to them—attached to the office, not to the person. It has long been a tradition that they are changed from time to time and that they are non-contributory. Neither Lord Boyle nor anybody who has looked into this has seen good reason for changing that tradition.

When hon. Members opposite talk about a comparison of these jobs with other jobs, I may say that these posts are quite unique. The Lord Chancellor is the head of the judiciary, Mr. Speaker represents us in our corporate entity and the Prime Minister, irrespective of political complexion, is the leader of the country. These posts cannot be compared with any duty, responsibility or function of any other citizen in the country or in this House. It is quite fitting that our forbears over the years have seen fit to provide generous pensions for these office holders when they cease to hold office.

I am reminded of the phrase used by Lloyd George when introducing the first salaries for members. He said—I think it was very good phraseology—that the remuneration of Members should be such as to enable them to maintain themselves comfortably and honourably but not luxuriously. The implementation of the Boyle Report as regards salaries did that and the implementation of the Boyle Report as regards pensions will allow us and future Members to maintain ourselves in our retirement comfortably and honourably but not luxuriously.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

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

Committee this day.