I wish to make known something that is not generally appreciated by hon. Members.
In 1968, shortly after I was elected, I won first place in the ballot for private Members' motions and chose as a subject for debate the protection of the pension rights of early leavers. Mr. Speaker King, as he then was, asked me to talk to him before I made my maiden speech. I was glad to do that for the benefit of his advice. I told him that I had suffered the loss of my pension rights after 14 years' service in the company in which I was first employed. In exchange I had received only a small return on my contribution. I told Mr. Speaker King that, in due course, I hoped to be able to persuade the House to amend the law in relation to the rights of early leavers so that early leavers received fair compensation for their pension rights. Unfortunately, I have not yet been successful in that.
Mr. Speaker King told me that his circumstances were worse than mine. At the time of his election he had completed nearly 20 years' service and contributions to the teachers' pension fund. However, because he had not quit; completed those 20 years' service when he was elected to the House. he lost the whole of the benefit of those years of service. I believe that circumstances would be different now. However, I recall very well the statement he made to me as to his personal loss when he became a Member of the House.
I suggest that that is a particular reason why the House should view with sympathy the circumstances of Lord Maybray-King and make suitable provision for his surviving spouse.
The nature of this evening's debate and indeed all other debates on pensions have shown us all how complicated pensions matters are. That applies to all previous debates on pensions. In those circumstances, and in view of the fact that I shall not be returning to the next Parliament, that demonstrates the difficulties of administering the scheme.
Tonight, I should like to pay tribute to the accountant, Mr. Dobson, his deputy, Mr. Lewis, and all the staff of the Fees Office for the splendid way in which they administer the scheme. If I may stray slightly out of order, that praise is not only for the way in which they administer the fund but for the way they deal with Members' allowances, expenses, and so on.
I know I speak for the whole House when I say that the service we receive from the Fees Office is extremely efficient. We receive unfailing courtesy from all the members of the Fees Office. It gives me great pleasure to place that tribute on record tonight.
I am sure that the whole House will wish to endorse the generous sentiments that my hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Dormand) has expressed in relation to the work that the Fees Office does on the complicated matter of the parliamentary pensions fund. I think it is also right for me to thank my hon. Frienf for his intervention and to say how greatly we shall miss him in the future. Tonight, we have listened to him with interest, as we have listened over many years to his many remarkable contributions to the proceedings of the House.