Ministerial Severance Payments

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th February 1997.

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Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay , Thurrock 12:00 am, 24th February 1997

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, pursuant to the answer of 4 February, Official Report, column 525, if he will introduce measures to ensure that severance payments to Cabinet Ministers leaving office will be based on the salary scale in force on polling day. [15531]

Photo of Mr Michael Bates Mr Michael Bates , Langbaurgh

We have no plans to do so.

Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay , Thurrock

How can it be right that, between midnight on polling day and when they hand in their seals of office, retiring Cabinet Ministers will have an increase of £4,000 in their severance pay? Parliament did not intend that. The proposition was that there would be an increase in Cabinet Members' pay after the election. It is outrageous that, by a technicality, Cabinet Ministers quitting after polling day—there will be a lot of them—will have an increase in their severance pay of £4,000 for about eight hours' work, during which time they will be sleeping and drinking.

Photo of Mr Michael Bates Mr Michael Bates , Langbaurgh

Those rules were passed by the House on 10 July by 253 votes to 49. No members of the Government voted for the regulations but 100 members of the Labour party, including seven members of the shadow Cabinet, did. It could be a plot because similar predictions were made before the last election, when the rules were used to provide redundancy pay to Commissioner Kinnock when he ceased to be Leader of the Opposition. Perhaps the Labour party is checking out the rules to see whether a similar amount would be available to the right hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair).