HL Deb 23 July 1962 vol 242 cc870-2

2.58 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this Bill, as its title indicates, is a House of Commons Measure. The object of the Bill is to give to the Fund the privileges which the Trustee Investments Act, 1961, accorded to other funds, and it does that, according to the provisions of the Bill, really by amending the 1960 Members' Fund Act, because the precise terms of that Act precluded the Trustees from operating many advantageous switchings of their investments. The proposed Bill lays down that the Fund shall be operated in two halves, namely, a wider fund, which ranges over equities, and a narrower fund, which ranges over gilt-edged stock; and that all new monies—and when I refer to "all new monies" I mean contributions by the Members of the House of Commons, grants in aid from Her Majesty's Government, interest and rights issues of stock—shall be equally apportioned between each half of the Fund. This Bill in mo way affects your Lordships other than in exceptional, individual cases of Members of your Lordships' House who have served for a long period in the House of Commons before becoming Members of your Lordships' House. Therefore, I beg to move formally that the Bill be read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Crathorne.)

3.0 p.m.


My Lords, I think every Member of this House will approve the purpose of this Bill, which is to take advantage of the Trustee Investments Act which was recently passed and enable the Trustees of this Fund to earn a higher rate of interest, if they are fortunate, than (they would if they confined themselves to gilt-edged securities. In the last few years it would appear that, if they had accepted this policy the Fund might have suffered. It is a gamble, and I am not entirely sure that it is justifiable to gamble with the funds which have been contributed by Members of the House of Commons. However, I am quite confident that those who are responsible for the administration of this Fund will take great care, especially in these difficult times, and will not necessarily take advantage of this power, which is a discretionary power, that is being given to them. If I may be bold enough to offer the Trustees a word of advice, I would suggest that at the present time they would be well-advised to leave things alone and not bother themselves with equities. Of course, times may change; there may be another Government, things may improve, and in those circumstances they will, of course, have another look at the Fund. I think it is quite right that they should be given this discretionary power.

Some of my noble friends and I are a little curious to know what happens about the funds which we ourselves have contributed. I do not know whether or not we have a reversionary, or possibly contingent, interest in this Fund; but if we have, that is all the more reason why we should be concerned about what happens to this money. Some noble Lords present have contributed for a very long time to this Fund, and we should like to know, if the noble Lord can tell us, what is the position of such noble Lords in relation to the Fund. But I hope that the point I first made, that this Bill will not be regarded as giving "marching orders" to those administering this Fund to jump into equities at the present time, which I think are somewhat risky, will be noted by the Government.


My Lords, I have nothing to say on this Bill, because we do not intend to go into the details which have been raised. We axe willing that your Lordships should give the Bill a Second Reading.


My Lords, may I add one further word? I am moving this Bill on this occasion only because, before becoming a Member of your Lordships' House, I was one of the Managing Trustees of this particular Fund in another place. I should Like to say at once that I know that all the remarks and comments which have been made by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, will be very carefully looked into by the present Managing Trustees, who are, as I think he will agree, a very wise body and responsible people. I am afraid that I cannot give any hope that the contributions which have been made by their Lordships when they served in another place will be returned to them, either in full measure or in part; but again, I know that the present Managing Trustees, having read our short debate on this Bill, will give consideration to the point which has been made by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin.

On Question, Bill read 2a; Committee negatived.