EUROPEAN UNION (ACCESSION) BILL

- Tuesday, 1st November 2005

 

Type: Debate
Proceeding: 52826
Member: Lilley, Peter

Date of Proceeding: 01.11.2005

Title: European Union (Accessions) Bill
Description: I shall briefly explain the purpose of the motion relating to the House of Commons Members? Fund, and the purpose of the fund itself. There are two kinds of beneficiaries of the fund, all of whom are either elderly members of it, or their dependants. Recurring as-of-right payments are made to those who are not entitled to a parliamentary pension because they left the House before 1964, or because, as widows or widowers of former Members, they have their small parliamentary contributory pension fund benefits topped up. In addition, some beneficiaries receive discretionary payments because of hardship and their personal circumstances. The discretionary payments can be recurring in order to improve a person?s standard of living; more frequently, they are one-off grants to improve quality of life, or to facilitate a minor home adaptation.

The fund currently has some 120 beneficiaries. The average value of the recurring payments is a modest ?2,000 per annum. A handful of one-off grants are made each year, with an average value of about ?5,000 per annum. Such relatively small sums can make a big difference in some circumstances.

The fund is governed by a variety of Acts of Parliament that stipulate the basis on which payments can be made and the amounts payable. The legislation is exceptionally complex and not understood by anybody, including the fund?s trustees. We undoubtedly ought to regularise the legislation at some future stage, and the trustees hope to work with others, including the Leader of the House, to do so in the coming period. But the legislation does require that we appropriate the contributions that all Members make each month, and the ?215,000 a year that the Treasury contributes, in order to make such money available to pay for the grants that we make to Members as of right, and on a discretionary basis. This motion gives effect to that, and I hope that the House will support it.

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to my fellow trustees and the departing trustees, and to welcome the new trustees to the fund. I shall briefly explain the purpose of the motion relating to the House of Commons Members? Fund, and the purpose of the fund itself. There are two kinds of beneficiaries of the fund, all of whom are either elderly members of it, or their dependants. Recurring as-of-right payments are made to those who are not entitled to a parliamentary pension because they left the House before 1964, or because, as widows or widowers of former Members, they have their small parliamentary contributory pension fund benefits topped up. In addition, some beneficiaries receive discretionary payments because of hardship and their personal circumstances. The discretionary payments can be recurring in order to improve a person?s standard of living; more frequently, they are one-off grants to improve quality of life, or to facilitate a minor home adaptation.

The fund currently has some 120 beneficiaries. The average value of the recurring payments is a modest ?2,000 per annum. A handful of one-off grants are made each year, with an average value of about ?5,000 per annum. Such relatively small sums can make a big difference in some circumstances.

The fund is governed by a variety of Acts of Parliament that stipulate the basis on which payments can be made and the amounts payable. The legislation is exceptionally complex and not understood by anybody, including the fund?s trustees. We undoubtedly ought to regularise the legislation at some future stage, and the trustees hope to work with others, including the Leader of the House, to do so in the coming period. But the legislation does require that we appropriate the contributions that all Members make each month, and the ?215,000 a year that the Treasury contributes, in order to make such money available to pay for the grants that we make to Members as of right, and on a discretionary basis. This motion gives effect to that, and I hope that the House will support it.

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to my fellow trustees and the departing trustees, and to welcome the new trustees to the fund.

Reference: 438 c798
Legislature: House of Commons (HoC)
Place: Commons Chamber
Session: 05-06

 

 

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