Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund

Topical Debate – in the House of Commons at 2:36 pm on 27th March 2008.

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Photo of John Butterfill John Butterfill Conservative, Bournemouth West 2:36 pm, 27th March 2008

I beg to move,

That Mr. Terry Rooney and Mr. David S. Borrow be discharged as Managing Trustees of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund and Jim Dowd and Mr. Don Touhig be appointed as Managing Trustees in pursuance of section 1 of the Parliamentary and other Pensions Act 1987.

It gives me great pleasure to move the motion, and I am delighted to see that my colleague and fellow trustee, Mr. Love, is present; he is one of the most assiduous trustees of the parliamentary contributory pension fund. The motion proposes that the hon. Members for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney) and for South Ribble (Mr. Borrow) be discharged as managing trustees of the parliamentary pension fund and be replaced by Jim Dowd and Mr. Touhig.

May I say how much I appreciated the work of the hon. Members for Bradford, North and for South Ribble? They have been excellent trustees and have given great service to the fund. It is not always appreciated how much time right hon. and hon. Members, often with extremely busy parliamentary lives, have to give up to serve as trustees. I should like to pay tribute to, and show my appreciation for, the service that they have given the fund. I hope that the two new trustees—excellent choices—who will be appointed if the motion is approved by the House will enjoy a similarly rewarding, but rather busy, service as trustees of the fund.

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Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Deputy Leader of the House of Commons 2:38 pm, 27th March 2008

Sir John Butterfill has set out the background to the motion. Two trustees of the parliamentary contributory pension fund—my hon. Friends the Members for South Ribble (Mr. Borrow) and for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney)—have indicated that after four years, their time as trustees should now come to an end. I join the hon. Gentleman in thanking them for all the work that they have undertaken in that role, and indeed I thank all the trustees of the pension fund, who do that work on behalf of all of us.

Following discussions, it is proposed that the two trustees be replaced by my hon. Friend Jim Dowd and my right hon. Friend Mr. Touhig. Again, I am sure that the whole House will join me in expressing our gratitude to them for taking on that responsibility. I invite the House to support the motion.

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Photo of Shailesh Vara Shailesh Vara Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons 2:39 pm, 27th March 2008

May I join the two previous speakers in thanking the hon. Members for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney) and for South Ribble (Mr. Borrow) for the sterling work that they have done on the parliamentary contributory pension fund? I extend my congratulations to Jim Dowd and Mr. Touhig on agreeing to undertake the onerous responsibilities that they will experience as trustees of the fund.

I conclude by thanking my hon. Friend Sir John Butterfill for all the hard work that he does as chairman of the fund. I also thank his colleagues on the fund for all the work that they do. Last but not least, I take the opportunity to thank all the House staff who so ably support the fund and all that the trustees do.

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Photo of Andrew Love Andrew Love Labour, Edmonton 2:40 pm, 27th March 2008

I add my endorsement to the motion. It would be churlish of me not to thank Sir John Butterfill for his kind comments. He serves as chairman of the trustees and has done so for many years, and has done a tremendous job in ensuring that Members' pension interests are looked after. I am sure that he will continue to do that into the future.

I add my thanks to my hon. Friends the Members for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney) and for South Ribble (Mr. Borrow), with whom I served. Both are prominent Back Benchers and active in their constituencies. My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North is also Chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee. They are both extremely busy and I know that that has been a consideration for them in their decision not to continue as trustees of the pension fund. I pay tribute to them for the tremendous job that they have done in the four years that they served as trustees.

I welcome the appointment of my hon. Friend Jim Dowd and my right hon. Friend Mr. Touhig. Both have served the House as Back Benchers, but my right hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn was a Minister and a Whip for some time, and my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West served in the Whips Office for a number of years. Both have great experience, which is much needed by trustees. I welcome them both—if the motion is carried—and look forward to working with them in the interests of the House and of Members.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Party Chair, Liberal Democrats 2:42 pm, 27th March 2008

This must be one of the less controversial debates in a month of some controversy.

I join those around the Chamber who have thanked Sir John Butterfill. He does the job with the confidence of colleagues around the House and has done it with that confidence over a considerable time. We all owe him a debt of gratitude. Those of us who have been here for a long time increasingly appreciate the importance of the issue, and those of us who advance towards pensionable age are even more aware of its importance.

I join also in the thanks to the outgoing colleagues and to the two colleagues who have expressed their willingness to take on that responsibility, as well as to my hon. Friend Nick Harvey, who looks after our interests—not that the trustees are partisan or act in a party political way.

Without wanting to open a Pandora's box, may I add one request that is linked to the work of the fund? This is an issue that has rightly and understandably attracted interest outside the House, particularly over recent years. Pension funds are of interest and the pension—

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Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. The debate is simply about the replacing of two hon. Members with two other hon. Members and must not go wider than that.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Party Chair, Liberal Democrats

I understand that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I hope that by the end of the sentence I will have assured you that I shall keep to your admonition.

May I ask that one of the tasks of the new trustees and their colleagues on the board should be to produce a simple explanation of the fund as it now is, for the public as well as for Members, and that that should be made available through the outlets that the House has, on websites and so on? If the trustees are to have the confidence of the public as well as of Members, simple messages about the justice and propriety of the fund should be a priority for the trustees at all times.

Question put and agreed to.

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