HL Deb 09 March 1981 vol 418 cc22-33

Second Reading debate resumed.

3.55 p.m.

Lord Boothby

My Lords, to return to the Bill that we were discussing earlier, I would say that, having campaigned for it fairly vigorously for several years, I wish to thank my noble friend the Lord President of the Council for getting it through at last. It really is a case of "at last" because it has been far too long delayed, and to my certain knowledge a great many people who served in Parliament for well over 10 years before 1964 have died in considerable poverty. That should not have been allowed to happen.

I served in the House of Commons for 34 unbroken years and I consider that on the whole, on balance, at the age of 81 I am entitled to a modest pension. I do not think that that is asking too much. If I may add a word of comfort for the noble Lord the Leader of the House, I would say that the Bill will not cost very much because nearly all of us whom it affects are dead, and very soon we shall be all dead. Then it will cost nothing at all. So no one can ever accuse the noble Lord of reckless extravagance. Having said that, I wish once more to thank the noble Lord and to say that the Bill will bring great relief to the half dozen people who still survive.

3.57 p.m.

Lord Shinwell

My Lords, some of my spare time is utilised in reading the debates of another place, and so I am fairly familiar with the arguments that are adduced, this way or that way, on the subject of parliamentary pensions. Being familiar with the subject, I shall express myself quite definitely, without any equivocation and without attempting to persuade. I welcome the legislation. That statement seems to have astonished the noble Lord the Leader of the House. I am quite certain that he was expecting me to "go off the deep end "on the subject. If that was so, he was mistaken. The fact is that I regard parliamentary pensions as essential and as an inevitable consequence of endeavouring to inject some substance into the principle of parliamentary democracy, because there can be no democracy unless there is fairness and a measure of equality. I could develop that theme, but I shall leave it for a philosophical audience. By that observation I do not mean any offence to noble Lords who are present; but there are certain philosophical aspects of the matter.

Let me make it clear, beyond peradventure, that I claim no interest in this matter. I failed to express an interest because I do not have one. My concern is the situation of some of my colleagues who were in another place when I, too, was one of the residents. Indeed, my presence this afternoon, and my intervention, is not because of any particular desire I have to participate in the debate but because one of my most distinguished colleagues—I say that quite sincerely and earnestly—is not present, although I expected him to be present because he approached me recently and made reference to this legislation. He expressed the view—I am quite sure that he meant what he said—that it was a shameful thing that, having served for at least 19 or 20 years in another place, he was then (I hope the word will not be misunderstood) pitchforked into your Lordships' House and finds himself without any pension; whereas quite a number of new boys or newcomers (what do they call them? "Come-what-lately boys ", I think, is the expression I have seen in the press somewhere) are going to get good pensions—and I am very glad they are.

Indeed, I understand—perhaps the noble Lord the Leader of the House will correct me if I am wrong—they are to have those pensions indexed to a notional salary, not an actual salary received at present but one they are likely to receive in the future. I understand the pensions are to be index linked in that way. The noble Lord will correct me if I am wrong, but I was reading about it and I understood that that was the position. There may be some reason for that, but I would prefer that it should not be done. I prefer that they should get a pension based on their existing salary, but I understand that in future they will have it appropriately indexed.

But, at any rate, I am in favour of parliamentary pensions, and I can say that with complete readiness and, indeed, sincerity because I know what it means to be without one, and I also know what it means to be granted a pension on the basis of 10 years' service at a time when I had 40 years' service. Now, of course, I have more than that, including some service—I should not say "service ", but attendance in your Lordships' House. But I am concerned about my distinguished colleague. He is not only distinguished in the ordinary sense of the term but he is a Knight of the Garter. I refer to my noble friend Lord "Harvey" Rhodes. When I said to him, "You can apply to the Members' Fund ", as indeed my other noble friend did—whether he liked it or not, he had no other recourse—he said, "What—to be a pauper?" He was right to say that.

Now I do not suppose he requires a pension. I understand he is a person who is rather comfortable financially, and if that is the case he probably does not; but it is the principle. In my own particular case I do not require it—of course I do not; everybody knows that I am a very wealthy person, and so I do not make any song or dance about it—but I must say that it is also a matter of principle with me to have my pension based on 10 years' service. I could not understand that. I understand there are anomalies in pension schemes, and there is obviously one there.

Why cannot my noble friend Lord Boothby, having rendered distinguished service in another place and in the country as a whole, and indeed in international affairs, be entitled to such a pension? Of course, he should have been in the Cabinet, or several Cabinets—and I mean what I say. He had the capabilities, and he should have been pensioned in an appropriate fashion and not been asked to consider some miserable pittance, which has a certain association with charity, it seems to me. That was not the right thing to do with an eminent politician like my noble friend Lord Boothby.

I do not suppose that anything I say is going to have the least effect on the noble Lord the Leader of the House. I think that the Government have made up their mind. Lord Boyle has done his job—and, by the way, I regret to hear that he is not very well. He certainly did his very best in the circumstances, and perhaps I ought to say what he said to me on several occasions. He actually apologised for the nature of the scheme, although I was not complaining at all, and neither do I now. But I do consider that when we ask people to undertake service on behalf of the nation, whether as Members of another place or whether as Members of your Lordships' House, whether on the Front Bench or on the Back-Benches, and whichever category they might find themselves in, the subject of pensions cannot be ignored; and if it is good for Front Benchers it is good enough for Back-Benchers, even though there is some slight difference.

So I leave it at that. I welcome the Bill, and I welcome the intention of the Government. I only wish that the anomalies could have been brushed aside, so that nobody would feel any resentment, any sense of bitterness, about the treatment to which they have been subjected. I am saying that not on my own behalf—of course not, not in the least—but on behalf of some of my distinguished colleagues.

Before I sit down perhaps I can say this. I noted what the noble Lord the Leader of the House said. He said that only a few people are affected. That makes it all the more reason why they should not be disaffected in the way they have been. With that I leave it, and I hope that in the future those who serve the nation will receive the treatment which is associated with the service they have rendered.

4.7 p.m.

Lord Beswick

My Lords, it would be churlish not to express appreciation of the fact that someone has had the courage or sense of fair play to take this successful initiative in the matter of former Commons Members' pensions. I am not clear who really took that initiative, but, for my part, I would salute him or her. It is now some 14 or 15 years since I held the position now held by my noble friend Lady Llewelyn-Davies and I led a delegation to the Government of the day on behalf of my colleagues—and I included myself.

One excuse for my rising now is that I recall with quite exquisite clarity how it was explained to me by the civil servants who attended the Ministers on that occasion that to grant pensions retrospectively had never been done before and that a precedent could not be established. I am afraid one thinks immediately that the "never-has-been-done-before" argument did not seem to weigh very heavily with those same Treasury officials when the index-linking formula came up for consideration. It was also pointed out, very gently, very courteously but very firmly, that the pre-1964 Members had not contributed anything towards their pension. But it might also have been said, as the noble Lord the Leader of the House remarked, that the pre- 1964 Members concerned, certainly for the greater part of their service, had not received any proper salary, either.

My Lords, I confess that I was sad when the Members of the Commons voted themselves the ten-year credit for the pre-1964 service without insisting that the same provision should apply to their former colleagues.

Lord Shinwell

It did.

Lord Beswick

Then they did not insist successfully, my Lords, is all I would say. But now that some amends are being made, one would hope that the provisions should apply equally to those who served in the earlier and much less-well-paid days and to those who now serve in another place. The first question I would therefore put to the noble Lord is this. What is the value per annum of the ten-year credit to those who retired from the House after 1964, and how does that figure compare with the amount now being voted to the pre-1964 Members?

My second question was to have been how the individuals concerned in this provision would be identified. I understand from the noble Lord the Leader of the House that research is now to be made and that there are former Members up and down the country, or their widows, who will be traced and informed. I should be grateful if the noble Lord would confirm that they will be so traced and informed. Incidentally, something has been said about the numbers involved, and as a sum of money has been decided I wonder if the noble Lord can tell us whether there is anyestimate of the numbers of former Members or their widows who will be affected by this provision. It will be interesting for some of us to know how many of our former colleagues still survive. Thirdly, may I ask from what date the pensions will be paid? Finally, I wonder whether we can get an understanding that those who have received payments from the Members' Fund on what has been called a means test basis will not find that that amount will be reduced by the amount of the pension now being considered.

4.11 p.m.

Lord Strauss

My Lords, I think that everyone in this House will support this Bill because its purpose is to remove a very real grievance which has been in existence for a long time. I have been well aware of it because for many years I was chairman of both the pensions fund and the Members' Fund; and Members frequently made representations to me and to my committee, and I to Lord Boyle and to the Leader of the House at the time, that this grievance should be remedied as soon as possible. Nothing has happened until now. I am delighted that it is happening now. One of the reasons why it has not happened before (and there are many reasons) is that the argument has been put forward that people who did not contribute a penny to any of these funds should not get any benefit from them at the expense of those who have contributed. The other argument was that anyone who does not have a reasonable income can apply to the Members' Fund. Many Members have said, quite understandably, that they do not want to do this. I do not think it was recognised—and I say this on behalf of my committee—that they acted very generously and that where an ex-Member who had nothing but the old age pension applied to the Members' Committee he would get £1,000 a year extra from that committee, which is the amount now being proposed under the Bill as that to which Members should be entitled. But the whole point is that ex-Members dislike having to apply to the Members' Committee, to disclose all their income and to subject themselves to the views of others and then only get money almost on a charitable basis. I think it is a good thing that that grievance has now been removed.

This grievance is only one of many. If I may, I will give the background of the general meanness over many years with which all Governments have considered both pensions and salaries of Members of Parliament. I have not suffered myself for, fortunately, I have outside resources; but I have seen my colleagues in the House of Commons suffer considerably. Many of them were never able to take lunch or dinner in the dining-room of the House of Commons; it was too expensive. They had to have a snack in the tea room. Day after day, that was all that they ever had in the way of food while serving in London when their home was in some other part of the country. On several occasions I remember being quite shocked when, late at night, I would offer to take some of my colleagues back to their "digs" in London during the Session. I took them, several times, I remember, to some place in Bloomsbury where they entered some obviously miserable and queasy lodging house where they had to live while they were doing their work in Parliament. I think it was deeply shocking.

They did that, not because they wanted to but because they had to, because the amount of salary they got was wholly inadequate. I am talking now of the times before the more generous salaries which have now been agreed to. Their conflict was that if they lived decently and reasonably in London in a way which would enable them to carry out their Parliamentary duties properly, they would have deprived their wives and families of the money they ought to have had to keep themselves. That was a very common problem facing Labour MPs and maybe others. It should never have happened. MPs who discharge the important duties which fall on them should not be put to that strain. They should receive such pay as will enable them to live, not in a wealthy way but without fear and constraint and without the need to scratch and scrape; they should be able to live a decent life.

Nearly all Governments have refused, or have been very reluctant, to raise both pensions and salaries. I must say a word about why this has been so; for I follow these matters closely. The answer is simply that the Governments have been fearful of the outcry voiced by the popular press and that if they raised salaries and raised pensions they would be unpopular and would lose votes; and they have not dared to stand up to the press lords or to the editors. I blame the press. It has been utterly disgraceful sometimes, when a case has been made by some committee or responsible body for an increase in salaries and pensions, that the press, because they like to write popular stuff, and there is nothing more popular than denigrating MPs, would come out with headlines such as: "MPs vote themselves higher salaries. They do not care about widows' pensions or old age pensions but they give priority to themselves in higher pensions and higher salaries ". Over and over again the Government have given way to that clamour. I was a member of a Select Committee of all parties in the 1950s which went into the question of Members' salaries. We proposed—I cannot remember the exact figure; I think it was £1,750—a figure which we thought was so ridiculously low (not adequate, but low), that the Government could not reject it. But when it came to the House the Government rejected it on the grounds that they did not consider it appropriate that MPs should vote themselves more money at that time. It is always "at that time". Every time is the wrong time; and so it has continued.

Fortunately that has changed. Governments have been more reasonable. On salaries, when one takes into account all the allowances which Members now get (travel and other allowances; £4,000 a year for secretarial allowances and £4,000 a year for research allowances) I, myself, do not think that the present salary of MPs, in view of national affairs and all the troubles, is unreasonably low. And pensions, except for certain difficulties, are I think defensible. I must add that this outcry which has stopped Members getting decent salaries and pensions has not always been from the popular press. I remember an occasion when we put forward a case for a very reasonable increase in salaries and The Times came out with similar accusations against the committee and demanded that the Government should not pay these outrageous increases to Members of Parliament while widows and old age pensioners did not get them.

Mr. Speaker, we are told that under the proposals now before us there is going to be a payment of £200,000 for 10 years into the Members' Fund in order to enable the pre-1965 Members to draw pensions without any procedure of means tests or anything of that sort. That is grand. But we should remember that the amount of money suggested, which is £1,000 a year, is not so much. It is the amount of money which in the past we, the Members' Fund, gave to quite a few ex-Members who needed it and who did not have many outside resources. We are not doing anything terrific. It is removing a grievance but it is not a gesture of very great generosity.

One word about two proposals which have been put forward frequently and advocated in the other House and outside. The first is that the accrual rate should be a fortieth instead of a sixtieth. I do not support that and I did not at the time because I take account of the fact that, although newspapers try to create hostile public opinion, public opinion must nevertheless be taken into account. I think that if Parliament voted itself pensions substantially higher than those of other public services—the one exception being judges—there would be real and justifiable anger or opposition to that from the public. Therefore I do not support that.

I welcome, however, the proposal that Members themselves may be entitled in the future to contribute to the Members' Fund and thereby increase their pensions when they retire. However, I give a warning to your Lordships: I think that in principle it is very desirable but I doubt whether it is as attractive as it sounds. When I was chairman of the Members' Fund Committee and the Pensions Fund Committee I remember working it out and we found that the amount they would have to contribute, calculated on an actuarial basis, was so substantial that it was doubtful whether it would be worth while. It is right that the matter should be gone into further and maybe some solution will be found.

The whole question of salaries is going to be looked at by an independent committee which the Government are going to set up. I do not know why it is not the Boyle Committee, which has been working on these matters for years and knows as much about them as anybody else. However, the proposal is that the Members' salaries should be linked with some designated group of salary earners. 1 do not think that is right. I think that is the wrong approach. There is no similar group of salary earners, nothing similar to Members of Parliament.

The linkage idea is good and I support the idea, if it is practicable, which has been advanced by certain Members of the other place (who are very knowledgeable about these matters) who have said that a sensible move is to link the salaries of Members of Parliament with the average remuneration of the public as a whole. That is very easy. Government departments know how salaries go up every year and it would be perfectly justifiable to say—and it would take it out of controversy in the House of Commons or the House of Lords—that as the general remuneration of services rendered by the population as a whole rose by 5 per cent., 10 per cent. or 1 per cent., or whatever it was, Members of Parliament should get that increased remuneration automatically. That would be a far better solution. I do not know whether it is practicable; but I think it should be considered. Meanwhile, all I can say—as have other speakers—is that I am glad that the Bill has come before us. It is long overdue and I certainly give it my very warm blessing.

4.24 p.m.

Lord Drumalbyn

My Lords, I wonder whether I may intervene for a few moments. It would be unfortunate if it were thought that no Member from this side of the House had contributed to this Bill on Second Reading. I am also happy to follow the noble Lord, Lord Strauss. I think that he was already a Minister in another place at the time I arrived at the House of Commons in 1945. He has an enormous amount of experience. I am sure that he has been waiting a very long time to make the excellent speech that he has just made, to which the House listened with great approbation.

I feel that I should say a few words. I must say at once that I have a contingent interest in this Bill, having entered the House of Commons in 1945 and left it in 1963. I am sure that there are many of my noble friends on this side of the House who are in support of this Bill no less than I am. I hope that I shall have their support in what I have to say.

I should like to comment in passing on something that the noble Lord, Lord Strauss, said. We on this side recognise the great hardships suffered by many Members of Parliament through not having access to a pension after 1965 simply because so many of them came in and served immediately after the war, at the time when there was a great flood of Labour Members, and their careers were disrupted. Probably they are as badly in need of a pension as anybody; however, the same applies to some Members on this side of the House, as the noble Lord, Lord Strauss, said.

One point I should like to raise in particular is that, as the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, recognised, there is a real principle involved. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, too, said—and I think he is absolutely right—that it has taken a long time to overcome another principle; that there should be no retrospective payments to those who have not earned entitlement to a pension. However, the principle that those who have served should in the end benefit in some way or another is an important one which really cannot be controverted.

This Bill was introduced in another place and it is a great credit to them that it was almost unanimously supported there. All of us who served in another place before 1965 and ceased to serve before that year and who still survive, as the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, so rightly said, would I am sure wish to express our gratitude to the Members of another place for the magnanimity that they have shown in this matter.

It is all very well to say that the line had to be drawn somewhere and it was drawn and that is that. All the same, it is very important that recognition should be given to those who served in the past and that is what, at the instance of, first, the party opposite, then the noble Lord, Lord Boyle, and then the present Government, the House of Commons has agreed to. I should like to reinforce a point that was put by the noble Lord, Lord Beswick. He asked whether those who are already in receipt of a discretionary pension under the House of Commons Members' Fund will continue to receive that discretionary pension in addition to the statutory pension which they will receive as of right. Considering the way in which the value of money has been falling and—alas !—is likely to continue to fall, that is highly desirable. I hope that my noble friend will be able to assure us that that will be so.

4.29 p.m.

Lord Taylor of Mansfield

My Lords, I do not want to be more than a few moments, but, as one who was a Member in another place for quite a long time, and knowing a little about the Members' Fund, I want to express my appreciation of this Bill today, although it does not affect me. I can speak with complete impartiality because I happened to leave after October 1964. Some were lucky and some were not. Looking at the Members' Fund from its inception, I think it was the child of Mr. Stanley Baldwin and the statute said that all Members of the House of Commons must pay a monthly contribution. But it did not say that it would be compulsory, whatever the position and circumstances of the individual concerned, and that benefits should be paid.

I can think of many Members who have gone through the other place and contributed for many years. I can think of one now who came into the other place in 1935 and contributed from the inception of the Members' Fund in 1938. He left the House not so long before October 1964 and that man has never had one penny benefit from the scheme. What I like about this Bill—I have some reservations about one aspect of it, which is the size of the benefit to be paid—is that it rights a wrong of many years' standing. It is because of that that I welcome it this afternoon.

4.32 p.m.

Lord Soames

My Lords, I personally, and the Government as a whole, will be grateful to the House for the general degree of support which has been given to this Bill from all quarters. Few enough noble Lords have spoken to enable me to reply, I hope, to each individual point that has been made. If I may start with the Leader of the Opposition, I am grateful for the general welcome that he personally gave to the Bill. It is something which exercised his mind a good deal when he was Leader in another place. He knew of the hardships suffered by some and of the inequity, which is an important aspect of this matter and which we are trying, at least to some extent, to put right by this Bill.

As regards the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, I am probably right in saying that, if his services in both Houses are added together, he has been a Member of Parliament for longer than anyone else since I do not know when. One would have to go back a long time to find someone who had spent more years here—except for "Manny"—I mean the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell. Anyway, the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, thinks he is pretty well up the list, and I suspect that is right. He has campaigned for a long time over this—not for himself—but, goodness knows!, he has done a lot in the media generally and has campaigned from his own resources. Also he has been deeply aware of others who were in the House with him. I think probably it was more a lack of equity rather than anything else which was the motivating force in this campaign which he has been conducting for so long. He said he appreciated that at least something had been done, although perhaps thinking it might have been more, to meet the problem. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, said that he had been pitchforked into this House—

Lord Shimvell

No, my Lords, the noble Lord is wrong. I referred to a distinguished colleague of mine who is unable to be here this afternoon, and he said that he had been pitchforked: he used that term.

Lord Soames

My Lords, I am sorry to have misunderstood. I was going to say, if it had been the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, who had been pitchforked into this House: "Some pitch, some fork"! But of course the noble Lord is not affected by this Bill: he was referring to a noble friend of his whom he says was in poor circumstances but did not like to apply. Now, if he falls within the rules, he will need to apply but he will receive what is due to him as of right. All he has to do is to let it be known that he would like to have it.

The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, also spoke about pensions in another place, and another place decided that pensions should be related not to pay but rather to what pay Members might have got if the full TSRB recommendations had been implemented. The answer is that it is to the pay and not to the TSRB recommendations to which pensions are now tied and. to the pleasure of the Government, this was decided by the House as being a wise decision during a debate in another place last month.

The noble Lord referred to the fact—I think this lay behind the thinking of many noble Lords—that £1,000 a year was not enough. I must just mention the point that we are lucky that there is a Members' Fund because this is the only way in which we have been able to find a way round this difficulty that this is not a pension. It is a grant and the Government are putting money into the Members' Fund in order to be able to finance this grant. I think we should remember that, as I say, this is a grant which is being made to those who were Members of the other place and who retired before 1964 without contributing anything towards a pension scheme, because there was no pension scheme to contribute to.

Had there not been a Member's Fund it might have been extremely difficult for any Government to have found a way round it, and although £1,000 may not seem a tremendous lot these days the fact is that the total commitment by Government is £2 million. I know that there is a question before the House which is being examined by a Select Committee—and Ilshall come later to this—as to whether it should not be linked in some way to a basket of incomes such as for the Civil Service, for instance. I have looked up the position of a civil servant who retired after 10 years' service in 1964 on a salary of £1,750 a year, which is what a Member of Parliament was receiving then. It seems incredible, looking back on it, but that is what we all got. Today that civil servant's pension would be £1,079. That would have been a fairly senior civil servant in those days and so the discrepancy is not all that great.

The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, asked for a comparison of pensions and incidentally he asked how many there were. We believe there are 80 former Members and 160 widows or widowers: that is the approximate order of the numbers we are talking about. As to the comparison of pensions, for a pre-1964 Member, 10 years' credit would be worth a figure of the order of £1,700 or £2,000 a year.

Regarding the date from which the pension will be paid, the answer is: when this Bill is enacted; and so the sooner we can get it through this House the better. It went through another place in one hour, and here I would echo the remarks made by my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn as to how effectively the other place expedited the passage of this Bill. So the pensions will be paid as from the date when this Bill receives the Royal Assent.

The noble Lord, Lord Strauss, is someone who knows a great deal about this subject. He has done so much for Members and ex-Members of the other place. He was chairman of the Members' Fund for a long time and he brought his knowledge of financial matters and his general wisdom to bear. It was interesting to hear his account of how hesitantly and how slowly Government after Government faced up to the necessity of paying Members of Parliament properly and providing a pension for them. What he said is, of course, true. He went on to say that he did not see that trouble existing today and, if I heard him aright, he felt that, with all the tax-free allowances that were payable, the pay and conditions of service of a Member of Parliament had at last been put to rights.

He asked about the linkage, and whether in future the pay of Members of Parliament was to be linked to a kind of basket of salaries. That is to be looked at by a Select Committee and we shall see what they come up with. I have no doubt that they will give to what the noble Lord said the consideration which is due, in view of all his experience. The noble Lord said that £1,000 a year was as much as the Members' Fund gave, during his chairmanship of it, to those who were in dire need. Yes, certainly, but of course this is a different matter. This is now as of right. But this does not mean that we cannot continue with the good work of the other aspects of the Members' Fund.

That brings me to what my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn said. He asked whether the £1,000 could be paid on top of anything which an ex-Member may at present be receiving from the Members' Fund. This will be a matter for the Members' Fund to decide, subject to the fact of what is written into this Bill, which is that the £200,000 a year, which will be provided by the Government over a 10-year period, should not be used for that purpose. That has been actuarially worked out and is to be kept for payments to the pensioners themselves, to the ex-Members and their widows, and that money should not be touched. But that is not to say that the Members' Fund cannot make up their own mind, as they have done in the past, without any fear or favour and without anybody else knowing what it is that they do with the other monies that come into their possession. But this—

Lord Robbins

My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord a question? Is the actuarial amount, which is payable over the next 10 years, based upon a certain rate of inflation or not?

Lord Soames

My Lords, it is considered to be sufficient for the Members' Fund to be able to make regular increases in the light of inflation. That is how I would put it, and I hope that I have got it about right. That was the intention—

Lord Beswick

My Lords, the noble Lord says that the amount has been worked out actuarially. Is that actuarial calculation based on the figures which the noble Lord was kind enough to give me of those who have survived, because, presumably, those who have survived are the total number and are not simply those who have not applied to the discretionary fund.

Lord Soames

No, my Lords. It is the total number. But there is also discretion left to the Members' Fund—this had to be taken into account—and if they feel that they have sufficient money left over having paid as of right all those with 10 years' service, and other people applying who have had, perhaps, marginally less than 10 years' service, then they will be enabled under this Bill to pay the same amount of money to those ex-honourable Members.

My noble friend Lord Drumalbyn was kind enough to say—although it always makes things difficult—that he understood about there being no retrospection. There are always difficulties in pensions when there is no retrospection. All of us who have been in public life for a long time remember hard cases coming up again and again, because of no retrospection. But Government after Government have decided that they have to stick to this, because if they made every increase retrospective there would not be any money left for any other increases. This has been the view time and time again, and this is not a blame to put upon the Treasury, because every successive government have reached the same conclusion. As to the question about what extra has been provided, I think that I have answered that. Finally, there was the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, who, as he said, served on longer than 1964, but knows of many who will be glad to have this. I know how sensitive he is about his colleagues who are perhaps—

Lord Taylor of Mansfield

My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord will not mind my correcting him. I am not Lord Blyton.

Lord Soames

I am so sorry, my Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, also served on longer, but I apologise to him. But I am grateful to him for the welcome that he gave to this Bill. As I said, he and I sat opposite each other for a long time and this debate took one back a bit, because everybody who participated in it has, in fact, been a Member of another place. So I quite understand the slip of the tongue of one noble Lord, who referred in his speech to Mr. Speaker.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

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