HC Deb 11 February 1980 vol 978 cc1054-6
53. Mr. Garel-Jones

asked the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bottomley), as representing the House of Commons Commission, what changes have been made in the group personal accident insurance for hon. Members and if he will make astatement.

Mr. Arthur Bottomley

I am pleased to announce that a revised group personal accident policy has been effected, the premiums for which will be met from public funds, to cover risk of death or injury on any day on which a Member of the House of Commons is engaged on parliamentary or constituency business in the United Kingdom or abroad. The policy will not cover bodily injury caused or contributed to by war or sustained whilst flying or taking part in other aerial activities except whilst travelling in an aircraft as a passenger and not as aircrew. Details of the main benefits payable will be circulated in the Official Report, and I have arranged for full details to be included in a memorandum available in the Fees Office.

These arrangements will operate from today.

Mr. Garel-Jones

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his statement will be welcomed in all parts of the House? Will he confirm that the policy relates to death or injury of an hon. Member and does not cover damage to personal effects or property?

Mr. Arthur Bottomley

That is the position. It does not apply to personal effects, but only to death or accidents.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this represents what is for many hon. Members a desirable further move towards the status for hon. Members of employed persons? Will he say whether this extends compulsorily and automatically, or whether we can have contracting out?

Mr. Arthur Bottomley

Having been responsible for this scheme, perhaps I should explain that I had an accident in the House last year and was told that if I had been permanently injured I should have had no claim for compensation. In those circumstances I thought it only reasonable that all hon. Members should be covered by some sort of insurance. That is now the case. If any hon. Member wishes to contract out, he or she is at liberty to do so.

Mr. Cormack

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether accident or injury on picket lines is covered by the scheme?

Mr. English

Is my right hon. Friend aware that he is to be congratulated? If we are treated for income tax purposes as if we are employed persons, it seems a little unfair that we should not be so treated in other respects. Will my right hon. Friend circulate in the Official Report a comparison between our scheme and that applying to First Division Association civil servants?

Mr. Arthur Bottomley

I shall consider that.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I welcome the scheme? May I ask him to confirm that no right hon. or hon. Member who dies during his Parliamentary service need apply for compensation if he does not wish to!

Mr. Arthur Bottomley

Yes. We Bottomleys should hold together.

Mr. Freud

Will the right hon. Member tell us, first, whether all Members are equal when it comes to meeting their death in an aerial or constituency disaster and, secondly, by what strange alchemy the worth of an hon. Member was computed?

Mr. Arthur Bottomley

I should welcome the advice of the hon. Member.

Following are the details:

The benefits provided by the policy are as follows:

Death—a lump sum of £60,000.

Loss of one or more limbs, permanent and total loss of use of one or both hands or feet, or total and irrecoverable loss of sight in one or both eyes—£60,000.

Permanent total disablement—£60,000.

Temporary total disablement—£200 per week for so long as such disablement continues subject to a maximum period of 104 weeks.

Medical expenses—15 per cent. of amount paid for Temporary Total Disablement subject to a limit of £500.