§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD HOBSON
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. We in your Lordships' House have already referred to the grievous loss sustained by Parliament in the death of the late Sir Harry Hylton-Foster. Tribute has been paid in both Houses to the many qualifications that made Sir Harry such a distinguished and admirable Speaker, and the conscientious manner in which he discharged the manifold duties of his high office. This Money Bill seeks to 859 provide a pension for his widow of £1,677 per annum from September 3, 1965, the day after his death.
I now wish to state how the amount is arrived at. Your Lordships may remember that, on the occasion of Mr. Speaker Morrison's retirement, an Act of Parliament was passed in 1957 following the normal practice in the public service of making a widow's pension a third of her husband's. This practice was followed in Parliament in making provision for widows of Prime Ministers in 1965 under the Ministerial Salaries and Members Pensions Act, and there is also similar provision for the widows of Lords Chancellor in the Administration of Justice (Pensions) Act 1950. The Bill therefore proposes to follow these precedents to award Lady Hylton-Foster one-third of the sum which it is thought the House would have wished to offer, in happier circumstances, to Sir Harry Hylton-Foster himself.
Following the Lawrence Committee Report, Parliament decided to abate by one half the recommended increases in the salaries of Ministers and of the Speaker, and equally to abate by one half the increase in pensions recommended by the Lawrence Committee for both the Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor. The question of the Speaker's pension was left over in accordance with tradition to be dealt with by an individual Act of Parliament at the time of his retirement. If we had now been making provision for a pension for the late Speaker, there is little doubt that in those circumstances Parliament would have provided a pension of £5,000 per annum, an increase of £1,000 over the previous pension of £4,000, rather than the £2,000 increase recommended by the Lawrence Committee. Accordingly, the Bill now proposes a pension of one-third of £5,000, namely £1,667.
Subsection (2) deals with the situation on remarriage and contains similar provisions to those affecting widows of Members of Parliament under the Members' pension scheme. Provisions have already been made for widows of Prime Ministers. Here again precedent has been followed. I think that these explanations are all that is required, and I end by saying that we shall all look forward to having Lady 860 Hylton-Foster among us to play her part in our deliberations.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a. —(Lord Hobson.)
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ LORD NEWTON
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord for his explanation of the Bill. I should also like to associate my noble friends and myself both with what he said about the late Speaker and with what he has just said about Lady Hylton-Foster. We certainly give a very warm welcome to the Bill. I wonder whether I might just ask him—and perhaps I should have given him notice of this—why in subsection 2 of Clause 1, dealing with the events on remarriage, the reference is to what the Treasury may do instead of to what the Minister or Secretary of State may do?
§ LORD HOBSON
My Lords, I am afraid that I cannot give an immediate explanation, but in my Parliamentary experience I cannot conceive of a situation whereby the Treasury officials would take action in a matter such as this without consultation with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I just cannot conceive of that happening administratively. After all, the Chancellor is the head of the Treasury, and the Prime Minister is its First Lord. Therefore, it is absolutely inconceivable that a number of officials—and this is really the assumption of the noble Lord's question—are going to make the decision. In fact, government just does not work like that.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a: Committee negatived.
§ Then, Standing Order No. 41 having been dispensed with (pursuant to Resolution), Bill read 3a, and passed.