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.
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. 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?
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.
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?
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!