§ Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.
§ 1.45 p.m.
§ Sir D. Renton
This is a very important Clause because it specifies the dates when the Bill is to come into force. As to Part II of the Bill, which relates to the Members' pensions scheme, and Clauses 18 and 19 which refer to annuity premiums, which we have just been discussing, and to the application of provisions to Northern Ireland, we find that the Bill is to come into operation on 16th October, the first day after the last General Election, the day when the results were announced. The remuneration provisions are not to come into force until 1st April, 1965.
There is, therefore, a degree of retrospection about the application of the Members' pensions scheme. It means, for example, that Lord Sorensen, the former Member for Leyton, will have the benefit of the pensions scheme, and those of us who served with Lord Sorensen in the House and know of the long and valuable service that he gave will raise no objection to that. But it should be realised that while we may be in favour of some of our own number passing a Bill which for our own benefit will be retrospective, when it comes to tax concessions or any kind of concession made by the State at the expense of the taxpayer, retrospection is very much frowned upon.
Yet here we are doing it to help some of our own number and I think that an explanation is required. I have mentioned just one example of the effect and 611 I have stated arguments about it. We are entitled to have the full effect explained.
Now I take the converse position which arises on Ministerial salaries. Under subsection (3,b) of the Clause, increased Ministerial salaries will not be brought into operation until 1st April—All Fools' Day. There may be a good reason for that. There is an obvious reason of convience in preparing Income Tax returns and handling them, but this is a matter which essentially engages the attention and responsibility of the Prime Minister. It may be that the Chief Secretary has had a word with him on this matter and has decided that although Ministers are overdue for an increase in salary, and although the Bill gives them just that, for some mystical reason it should not happen until All Fools' Day. We are entitled to be told the reason.
§ Mr. Diamond
I am in a little difficulty. I thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman was raising a serious point to begin with.
§ Mr. Diamond
I still think that it is a serious point and I will not be misled by reference in a less serious vein.
There are two dates, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman said. If I may, I congratulate him on having done his homework with the assiduity which he applies to all tasks which confront him. One part of the Bill comes into effect on the earlier date and one on the later date to which he referred. As he quite rightly said, the Members' salary increases came into force on 16th October, 1964, and the Members' pensions scheme goes with Members' pay. Indeed, that was the effect of the Ways and Means Resolution which we passed at an earlier stage. I do not think that he is raising any fundamental objection to that. His own leader at the time supported that position when the Prime Minister made a statement to the House on 16th November last year.
§ Sir D. Renton
The hon. Gentleman is quite right and I am not raising an objection. What I say is that because it is retrospective the Committee is entitled to be told the full effect and incidence of restrospection.
§ Mr. Diamond
As to the philosophy or theology of retrospection, the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows that his party claims, and has said many times, that where there is a retrospective benefit this does not offend any legal principle. Where retrospectively one is prejudicing a citizen, it might be held to do so. This is a benefit and, therefore, should not offend against the frequently expressed philosophy of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's own side.
The full effect is to say that all Members entitled to a Member's salary would receive it from 16th October last and therefore, this would apply to the allowance of £1,250 paid to a Minister. The new ministerial salaries, however, do not apply until 1st April because the Government take the view, and the Prime Minister made it quite clear at the time, that although there was great need and urgency and indeed an undertaking to deal with Members' salaries immediately, there was no such need, or urgency to the same extent, to put right the position of Ministers. Therefore, for that reason we have two dates. I think that that answers the right hon. and learned Gentleman's point.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.