Orders of the Day — Parliamentary and Other Pensions Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:22 pm on 27th April 1987.

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Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke Minister of State (HM Treasury) 9:22 pm, 27th April 1987

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has made it perfectly clear, as does the Bill, that we are changing the mechanics, but in view of the complexity into which we have got ourselves it would be a mistake to continue to engage in primary legislation to tidy up that complexity.

The hon. Member for Blaydon queried Members' rights in relation to lump sums: I acknowledge that the lump sum figure is secured by commutation, but there is a right that such commutation can take place.

I wish to deal with one matter that has not been raised in the House. There have been occasions in the past when there has been an interaction between tax legislation and Members' allowances and benefits, but it has not always been identified and when it has been noticed thereafter there has been distress that it was not recognised earlier. I wish, therefore, to draw attention to a proposal in the Budget to limit the maximum lump sum that can be paid out on retirement to those joining schemes after 17 March this year. The proposal will affect Members of Parliament in exactly the same way as other employees. It is not relevant to the Bill before us and there will be ample opportunity to debate it when the House considers schedule 5 of the Finance Bill and when it subsequently considers regulations bringing the parliamentary scheme into line with the provisions of the Finance Bill. I repeat that it does not apply to anybody who is a Member now. It relates only to those who come in after 17 March. However, I thought it appropriate and sensible that this should be put on the record so that it will be known to everybody when we deal with the Committee stage of both of the Bills.

It has become clear during the debate that the central purpose of the Bill is to improve the mechanics of the arrangements. I am delighted that we are able to provide a pension for Lady Maybray-King, and for the support that I received from the Opposition Benches for bringing this in. I commend the Bill to the House.