Motion made, and Question proposed,
That Mr. John Butterfill, Dr Vincent Cable, Mr. Barry Gardiner, Mr. John MacGregor, Dr Nick Palmer, Dr Howard Stoate, Ms Gisela Stuart and Paddy Tipping be appointed Managing Trustees of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund in pursuance of Section I of the Parliamentary and other Pensions Act 1987.—[Mr. McFall.]
§ 4.6 pm
§ Sir Peter Emery (East Devon)
I wish to refer to the hon. Members who are to be appointed trustees, because it is important that something that has, historically, involved considerable battling over many years should be understood by the new trustees. I think that at least five of the eight came to the House at this year's general election.
I am in a happy position because what I am going to say cannot affect me, though it can affect a host of other Members. You will recall, Madam Speaker, that the Labour party won a famous victory by defeating a motion of the Conservative Government in July 1980. It was decided that the pension accrual rate should not be one sixtieth but one fortieth; in other words, that people who had served 20 years in the House could have half pensions. I am delighted to say that the right hon. Member for West Bromwich, West (Miss Boothroyd) marched arm in arm with me through the Division Lobby. New Members will not have realised that. Only one of the new trustees was here then.
I am glad that the former Leader of the House, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr. MacGregor) is going to be a member, and I hope that he will chair it.
§ Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)
I could be wrong, but I believe that I am right. The right hon. Gentleman, whom we are pleased to see back in his place, said that the pensions position was 40 per cent., whereas it was reduced to 50 per cent. He said that 20 years' service provides half a pension, but he should have said 25 years' service.
§ Sir Peter Emery
I was trying to make it clear, so that nobody misunderstands, that, at that time, the referral was one sixtieth. We tried to reduce it to one fortieth so that 20 years' service would give a half pension. The Conservative Government refused to accept the motion of the House and came back, in February 1981, with all the Whips on and proceeded to refer back to one sixtieth. In July 1983, that was changed to an accrual of one fiftieth.
I simply remind hon. Members who will serve as trustees of the great and extensive service given by Mr. Morris, who chaired that Committee. He was a most distinguished Labour Member for many years and is now in another place, I am glad to say. His work in defence of hon. Members' pensions was considerable.
§ Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington)
Does the right hon. Gentleman know whether the trustees can take evidence? If they can, is he suggesting that he might wish to give evidence?
§ Sir Peter Emery
I have never considered giving evidence to the trustees. They have prepared a whole host 1050 of work and it rests very much with the Chairman as to how to proceed. As the at least five of the trustees are new Members, and only one knows of the instances of which I am talking, I thought that the matter was extremely relevant. Sadly, I do not see all the hon. Members in the Chamber, but they should be able to see in Hansard the point that I am making about pensions so that they can bear it in mind in any future action.
I hope that the trustees will be successful, as the Labour party at the time was adamant about moving to one fortieth.
§ Sir Peter Emery
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was in the Division Lobby with me. I have the Division list before me—
§ Sir Peter Emery
Thank you, Madam Speaker. As long as I know that you were with me, that is all that matters.
I hope that the Leader of the House will ensure that the trustees understand this matter and can look into it to see whether the present Government will move in the direction that the Labour party urged on the House 17 years ago. Many new Members, who do not necessarily stand a chance of being in the House for more than 10, 15 or 20 years, need to ensure that their pension rights are better protected than at present. It is not exactly the same as in industry because nothing can be quite as problematical for a long stay than being in politics as a Member of Parliament.
It seemed worth while to raise this matter as we appoint hon. Members as trustees because it is imperative that they bear the matter in mind.
§ Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst)
I confess that I am disappointed that, given that this is the first opportunity that the House has had to debate this important matter—[HON. MEMBERS: "It is the second opportunity."] It is the first opportunity, because the Leader of the House withdrew the motion in a fit of pique the other night and would not let the House debate the matter.
§ Mr. Mike Hall (Weaver Vale)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Earlier this week, we debated the motion and the right hon. Gentleman spoke in that debate. I do not know how he can claim that this is the first opportunity to debate it.
§ Mr. Forth
Thank you for that clarification, Madam Speaker. The hon. Gentleman should have established his facts before getting to his feet.
As I was saying, this is the first occasion that we have had to debate this important matter, which relates directly to the interests of every Member of the House.
1051 I am doubly disappointed because, so far, the Leader of the House has not sought to catch your eye, Madam Speaker, to explain to the House why the names that have been suggested for the managing trustees are such as they are. The right hon. Lady might have had a hint from the debate—however truncated it was—on Monday night that there was a certain amount of dissatisfaction about the nature of the names being offered, albeit in connection with a different matter.
Any hon. Members who were then present might recall that I expressed the view that, in these matters perhaps more than any other, it was vital that those to whom we give the trusteeship of our pensions or of the Members' fund should represent the widest possible range of Members of Parliament in terms of background, experience, and so on. I should have thought that that proposition was self-evident, but apparently it is not.
However, even now, the Leader of the House has not done us the courtesy of offering an explanation of the reasoning behind the proposed membership of the managing trustees of the parliamentary contributory pension fund. That is not an unreasonable request.
The matter should be uncontroversial. I should have thought that the Leader of the House would come to the House with some confidence and explain briefly the reasoning behind the nature of the appointments. I would hope that we would all then be satisfied and the matter could be dealt with swiftly but properly. None of that has happened. Instead, we had this and the other related matter brought before us late on Monday night, apparently on the assumption that they would slip through quietly on the nod. We did not even have the opportunity to have the full debate allowed on the Order Paper. I am therefore glad to see that now we have up to an hour and a half to debate each of these matters. That reflects the importance that should be attached to them.
In order to establish my point of reference, I obtained from the Vote Office a copy of the "Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund Accounts 1995–96". Helpfully, it states in paragraph 11:The Managing Trustees appointed in accordance with Section 1 of the 1972 Act by Resolution of the House of 22 May 1992 areand gives the names of the hon. Members in the previous Parliament who were the managing trustees of that important pension fund. Those members included, from the then Opposition, the right hon. Alfred Morris, who was the chairman, the right hon. Gordon Oakes—a senior and highly respected Member of Parliament—and the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells), who is now the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment, but who was at that time a relatively new Member.
The significant point is that the view taken by the then Opposition of the managing trustees was that it was appropriate that there should be a spread of experience, ranging from the hon. Member for Pontypridd to senior Members such as Gordon Oakes and Alfred Morris.
I should mention in passing that the Conservative trustees were none other than Sir Peter Hordern, my hon. Friend the Member for Broxbourne (Mrs. Roe), Sir James Spicer and Sir Gerard Vaughan. That gives some idea of the way in which the previous Parliament thought that the 1052 managing trustees should have experience, knowledge and wisdom about matters relating to the House, to Members of Parliament and to their pension fund. That is appropriate and I cannot recall anyone having any difficulty accepting that or any protests—everybody seemed to agree that that was the correct balance for that body of people.
One would have expected that in the present Parliament there would be a similar range of experience among Members to be appointed as managing trustees. You can imagine my shock and my disbelief, Madam Speaker, when I read the list of names that was first suggested to us a couple of nights ago. The Government seemed to have decided that Labour trustees would largely be newly elected Members.
§ Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours
How does the right hon. Gentleman know that a number of these people are not experts on pensions? Has he asked them?
§ Mr. Forth
As the hon. Gentleman invites me to, I shall digress a moment—staying in order, I hope.
I readily accept that it is relevant and important that some of the trustees should be Members who know about pensions. If such Members were also newly elected Members, I believe that that would be entirely appropriate, because I do not dispute the fact that a new Member, or even two of them, should serve as trustees to provide that perspective. My difficulty with the proposal is that there are so many of them, to the exclusion of Members with experience and long service in the House.
The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) obviously knows all those new Members intimately. I respect his judgment in that matter, and if he tells me that one or more of them are pensions experts, I welcome that. I welcome the fact that the trustees include a Member or Members with pension expertise.
The point at issue, however, is whether the trustees have sufficient understanding of the House, of the membership of the House, of the difficulties that may arise as Members serve in the House and, specifically, of the problems that might arise when Members reach pension age and become eligible for the different pension arrangements.
§ Mr. Winnick
On Monday night, I wondered whether the right hon. Gentleman was simply being obstructive; 1053 I now realise that he genuinely wants the matter to be discussed. I shall not think otherwise unless I have reason to do so.
As I know many hon. Members from both sides of the House who served during the previous Parliament, I would be the last to question their integrity. Is there not a case, however, for saying that fresh blood entering the House—Members who are unlikely to receive pensions in the near future, and not just one or two of them—should be able to consider the matter?
If the majority of the Members who serve as trustees are likely to draw their pension in the next five or 10 years—I am not suggesting that that is the reason for their appointment—some people outside the House might take the view that they have a vested interest. I do not share that view, but there is an argument, which obviously the right hon. Gentleman does not accept, for having as trustees new Members who are unlikely to benefit from pension arrangements for many years.
§ Mr. Forth
That is a reasonable point of view, which I respect. It was not the view that we took in the previous Parliament or, as those with longer memories may agree, in previous Parliaments that I can recall. That view has not been taken until now. If it were suddenly the view of the House, that would be another matter.
I concede, as I did to the hon. Member for Workington, that there should be a balance of experience of trustees, and the point that the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) makes has some validity. I cannot go as far as he wants me to go and say that there should be a majority. I readily concede the principle that he has enunciated—the need to balance possible self-interest in the approach of pension age with distance from pension age.
I am arguing for some balance and breadth of representation among the trustees. From the beginning, I have believed that the names suggested by the Government go too much in one direction. As I have said, I regret that I do not know those individuals personally—I hope to get to know them well in the coming years if I am spared to survive in this place beyond another election or two. I am sure that some of those hon. Members will make a very valuable contribution—in terms of their expertise in pensions, the fresh views that they may bring to these matters or their distance from their pension entitlements. I readily concede those points.
However, the point at issue is whether the trustees should contain a breadth of representation. I hope that it is not too late to ask the Leader of the House to reconsider the matter and provide a better range of representation. I have no wish to obstruct this process: it is very much in my interests, and in the interests of all hon. Members, that the trustees should exist and function properly. That is even more important for the trustees of the Members' fund, which we are to discuss next.
I have no desire to be obstructive, but I have a strong wish to see the trustees constituted properly. I ask the Leader of the House—I hope reasonably—to re-examine the matter very quickly.
§ The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Ann Taylor)
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. On Tuesday night, I offered him the chance to discuss the matter 1054 further. I have received no representations about the issue—although one of his hon. Friends spoke to me about it. As I explained to him, those who serve as trustees are volunteers: we cannot conscript people to do such work. We have selected to serve as trustees people with some relevant experience. My hon. Friends the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) and for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) have made significant points in that regard.
When the trustees are appointed, I do not think that there will be any barrier to an expansion in numbers if it is felt that extra experience is needed. The House could ask other hon. Members whether they wished to serve. However, the Government do not conscript people to serve as trustees if they are not willing to do so. I do not think that that would be a useful way of doing things. I believe that the hon. Members chosen to serve have a great deal of experience between them and I have confidence in them. However, if other experience is needed, I do not have a closed mind to suggesting that the membership should be altered in the future.
§ Mr. Forth
I am grateful to the right hon. Lady for that response, but I am a little disconcerted—I think that that is the right word. I shall not make any further inquiries about the matter and I accept the right hon. Lady's explanation at face value. However, I am surprised that apparently it was not possible to find, from more than 400 Labour Members of Parliament, hon. Members with more experience to serve as trustees.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
How does the right hon. Member know? He does not know what their experience is.
§ Mr. Forth
The hon. Gentleman raises the same issue from a sedentary position. I am talking about length of experience in the House, not pension experience. I am very surprised that, from more than 400 Labour Members—I concede that a number are occupied with Government responsibilities—it was apparently difficult to find hon. Members who entered the House in 1992, 1987 or whenever to serve as trustees.
§ Mrs. Ann Taylor
I reinforce the point that the right hon. Gentleman has made. The vast majority of Labour Members with the experience of the kind to which he refers are either members of the Government—it would not be appropriate for Ministers to serve on the body—or fulfilling other very responsible roles on Committees of the House. I think that he would be somewhat disconcerted if we suggested that new Members should assume the chairmanship of Select Committees in order to free more experienced Members for this kind of work.
We cannot force people to do such work; we rely on volunteers. I have said that if other types of experience are considered necessary in the future, we will be happy to consider the proposal, but, at present, there are no hon. Members with the kind of experience that the right hon. Gentleman describes who are willing to serve as trustees.
§ Mr. Forth
I am grateful to the right hon. Lady. I am tempted, but I shall resist the temptation, to get into a side debate about whether new Members should be Chairmen of Select Committees. In that case, the freshness of view argument might indeed be relevant. It is an interesting 1055 question whether old lags should always be Chairmen of Select Committees. We might return to it on another occasion.
§ Mr. Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) implied that there was a corollary: that new Members might have experience in pensions? Having just referred to the "Vacher Dod" guide, I see that one of the new Members is an economics lecturer, another is a general practitioner and a third was a translator before coming to the House. They offer nothing to the Committee, other than newness and freshness—no experience in the running of pensions or the organisation of the House. No doubt they will contribute later to the debate on modernisation of the House, and argue how sensible it would be to introduce clapping.
§ Mr. Forth
I am confused. I hope that, as a result of my hon. Friend's intervention, the hon. Member for Workington will seek to catch your eye, Madam Speaker, and explain why, with his intimate knowledge of his colleagues, he thinks that they have pensions experience that would be useful to the trustees. He suggested strongly that they had such experience. My hon. Friend suggests, from the information available to him, that that may be in doubt. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will put our minds at rest—
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
The right hon. Gentleman does not know whether my hon. Friends were trustees. That would not be in the record to which the hon. Member for Lichfield (Mr. Fabricant) referred. As for the medical practitioner, there is a requirement that a medical practitioner should be a trustee. The fund may have to deal with people like me, who may at some stage want ill-health pensions.
§ Mr. Forth
I have no difficulty with any of that. If, as I said at the outset, we had been told briefly but carefully the rationale behind the names proposed, none of this discussion would have been necessary. If, for example, it had been explained that one of the trustees must be a general practitioner, that would have been sufficient. If it had been demonstrated that an hon. Member had relevant pensions experience, that might have been appropriate. If we could have found someone who was a new Member and a GP with pensions experience, we could have had the whole lot rolled into one.
It would have been helpful if, as a matter of public record, the House had been given such an explanation, but that explanation has still not been forthcoming. I am grateful to the Leader of the House for the information that it has apparently proved difficult—nay, impossible—to find Labour Members with the range of experience that I suggested was necessary.
I shall reflect on that. It was, and still is, in my mind to seek to divide the House on the matter, such is my strength of feeling about it. I sense that some of my hon. Friends want to make their contribution, and I shall reflect on what the Leader of the House said before making up my mind.
1056 I hope that I have made my views clear, and that I have persuaded hon. Members present that the matter is important. At the very least, we now have a clearer view from the Leader of the House of the background and the possibilities that lie ahead of us.
§ Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot)
I have promised to help to secure the re-election of Gerry Malone as the hon. Member for Winchester and I am already late for that appointment. That being so, I shall not delay the House for long, but an important matter is before us.
I am glad that the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) intervened because he recognised, as a Labour Member, that the points made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) on Monday night and by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Sir P. Emery) tonight show that we, the Opposition, are not seeking to filibuster to delay Government business. After all, the next debate will focus on the modernisation of the House, which is a matter of concern to all hon. Members.
As my right hon. Friends have said, however, we are much concerned about the compositions of Committees. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst, I felt on Monday, in my anger, that we were faced with another example of the contempt with which the Government regard the House.
I had reason to take that view because I have raised on the Floor of the House the membership of the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges, of which the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) is a distinguished member. I felt it wrong that a Committee dealing with matters relating to past events and going much to the heart of Members' activities should be in the hands of those who had no experience of the House. It was not a particularly partisan point, but I would not claim to be completely green on that issue.
The issue arose to even greater extent when nominations as trustees for the pension fund appeared on the Order Paper to be rushed through on Monday night. Not one Government nominee had served in the House before May. [Interruption.] I am sorry, the hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Tipping) had served for one Parliament. However, none of the Government Members nominated as trustees of the Members' fund has served in a previous Parliament. I realise, of course, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that we are debating not the Members' fund but the contributory pension fund. I accept that one Labour nominee has served in a previous Parliament.
I am grateful to the Leader of the House for acknowledging that we had a brief conversation yesterday. I am grateful also to her for taking me into her confidence. I have breached that confidence because she raised the matter from the Dispatch Box. She said that those who appoint Members to act as trustees of the funds have had difficulty in persuading Labour Members, especially right hon. Members, to serve.
I find it extraordinary that a party that enjoys the largest representation in the House since the second world war cannot find within its ranks senior Members who have the time that is necessary to devote to such important work.
We are talking about what used to be called House of Commons matters in the old days, not party political matters. These are matters that unite Members across the 1057 board, and they relate to the difficulties of leading the life of a Member, which involves balancing constituency obligations with House obligations and balancing commitments to the political process with the need to devote time to the family. These matters serve to bring Members together rather than to divide them. There is a need also to deal with financial matters.
Since I have been in this place, it has seemed to me that it has been agreed policy that matters such as those before us would be dealt with by the great and the good. I fear that there is now an absence of the great when we read the list of Labour nominees. I make no judgment on whether the new Members are good—those who are appearing for the first time—but they are not great, because they have not served in the House previously.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
I recall hearing these arguments before. They are arguments that the previous Government used against the then Opposition Front Bench. They said that because Labour had not been in government for nearly 18 years we did not have the experience to go into government. There is a fine team of Ministers on the Treasury Bench that is competently running the affairs of the United Kingdom, and most of its members have had no previous ministerial responsibility. They have acquired their competence in a matter of months. What is the hon. Gentleman going on about? I think that he completely misunderstands what the debate is about.
§ Mr. Howarth
That is unbelievably rich coming from the hon. Gentleman. Surely he has been reading the papers lately. He must have seen the Government's catalogue of incompetence, which reached a pinnacle this week—I am sure that there will be many more pinnacles to conquer in the coming weeks—with the nonsense about sponsorship by tobacco companies. I shall not pursue that matter, Mr. Deputy Speaker, or you will stop me.
The Conservatives' argument in government that there was a lack of experience in the Labour party has, sadly, been fully confirmed since the new Government assumed office. The hon. Gentleman invites me to take a partisan approach when I was trying to be as non-partisan as possible. He always tries to tempt me, whether in the Chamber or the Tea Room, but he should resist or we shall stray from what I hope is common ground.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst said, it is not that we believe that Labour nominees lack the competence to deal with pension matters, but they have no range of experience. They may provide fresh blood, but, apart from the hon. Member for Sherwood, who has served one term, there is no one such as the hon. Member for Workington, who has served for a number of terms and understands how the House works.
On a House of Commons matter, it is important to understand how the House works, and one way in which Members understand how the House works and the pressure faced by them is by virtue by their length of service. Therefore, I do not cast aspersions on those hon. Members who have been appointed.
However, I return to my astonishment that, within the ranks of the 400 Labour Members, neither the hon. Member for Workington nor the hon. Member for Walsall, North could be persuaded to serve as trustees. The hon. Member for Walsall, North does sterling service 1058 with me on the Select Committee on Home Affairs, but I dare say that he could still find a slot in his diary to help out as a trustee.
§ Mr. Winnick
I am not volunteering. The hon. Gentleman refers to Labour Back Benchers with many years of experience. Leaving my position aside, is it not of interest that all those Labour Members have various positions of responsibility, including—I do not wish to embarrass him—my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon), who is chairing an important Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) is a member of that Committee and of another Committee which carries some responsibility.
Unfortunately, I was not in the Chamber when the hon. Gentleman started his speech, but I know that he understands some of my arguments. Unless he can show that those senior Labour Members to whom he refers are not pulling their weight in Committee and in the Chamber—we know the work undertaken by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner)—he is weakening his case.
§ Mr. Howarth
I am flattered that the hon. Gentleman should consider me qualified to appoint senior Labour Members of the great and the good. That is not my duty and I think that he would regard it as presumptuous of me were I so to do. However, the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) is in his place. I am sure that he has time to spare. He joined the House at the same time as I did in 1983. He and I find time to share holy communion from time to time and I am sure that he could be persuaded to serve on behalf of the House.
§ Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)
I was a trustee of two pension funds before I became a Member of the House. I have every confidence in those Labour Members who have been appointed to represent us. I am serving on the Modernisation Committee and the Ecclesiastical Committee, and I shall serve on the Select Committee on Deregulation, probably as Chairman. Therefore, I have plenty of work to do without being trustee of the fund.
§ Mr. Howarth
As those with plenty to do always have time to do a little more, I think that we have a nomination from the hon. Member for Burnley. Given his qualification as a previous trustee of two pension funds, he is ideally qualified. We are making progress.
In contrast with the situation in which the Labour party finds itself, apparently having too many Members committed in other places, the Conservative party has 165 hon. Members, the lowest number for many a long year, but, despite my right hon. and hon. Friends' responsibilities in the House as her Majesty's loyal Opposition, we have nominated my right hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr. MacGregor), who has a distinguished record of service in government and as 1059 Leader of the House and understands how the House works—a volunteer, not a press-ganged man—and my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill), who is not in the Chamber today but is also a Conservative appointee, willingly serving.
My right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend have appropriate experience. My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West is the adviser to the British Insurance and Investment Brokers' Association, and so has relevant experience, and my right hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk, is a non-executive director of London and Manchester, dealing with pensions.
The Opposition have discharged their responsibility to the House to nominate as trustees those with relevant experience who can bring something to the corporate body of hon. Members who need to ensure that their pension fund is in safe hands.
I do not cast aspersions on Labour Members, but we do not know them.
§ Mr. Andrew Stunell (Hazel Grove)
The hon. Gentleman said that this is a non-partisan issue, without party divisions, but has he not argued that there will be Conservative Members on it with satisfactory credentials? When the matter was debated on Monday, aspersions were clearly cast on the nomination of the Liberal Democrats, who is an hon. Member with wide industrial and commercial experience who is entirely suited to the membership of the body. The trustees represent a variety of ages, politics and experiences who, taken together, form a sound body. Does the hon. Gentleman not agree?
§ Mr. Howarth
Frankly, that is garbage. I apologise to the hon. Gentleman. That is simply not true. The hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable) was chief economist at Shell. I do not dispute that he has something to offer from outside, but he has no knowledge of the workings of the House. He has six months' experience of being a Member, so he has no breadth of experience of the difficulties that hon. Members face.
§ Mr. Howarth
I shall give way provided that the hon. Lady does not accuse me of prolonging the debate.
§ Mr. Howarth
The hon. Lady makes a fair point. I promised that I would not speak for too long, so I shall begin to wind up my remarks because the next debate is on an important matter.
1060 I hope that my right hon. Friends and I have made the point. We do not wish to attack the external credentials of the Labour nominees, but it is a mistake for the House to appoint as trustees too many hon. Members who do not have the relevant experience of this place. That is the issue about which we feel strongly. We shall have to decide whether to divide the House.
§ The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Ann Taylor)
I have been in the House longer than anyone who has spoken in the debate, with the exception of the right hon. Member for East Devon (Sir P. Emery), who has taken a keen interest in this matter for a long time. He implied that previous committees of the great and the good had perhaps not done as good a job as some of those who advocate that more of the great and the good should be trustees might think.
On Monday night, I offered to listen to suggestions from any hon. Member who was concerned about this issue, but only one raised the matter with me. After listening to contributions from Conservative Members, I think that we will have an experienced group of trustees. It will comprise Opposition Members, some new blood and at least one hon. Member with experience of one Parliament. Overall, it will be a pretty balanced group in which we can have confidence.
Conservative Members have not quite decided whether they are or are not attacking the individuals who have been nominated. They have not made their case by arguing that some of the Labour nominees are too inexperienced. By definition, this is not a party political activity. If the trustees include new Members, Members with some experience, Members with great experience, people with knowledge of the pensions industry and GPS with useful experience, we will have a group in which I have more confidence than perhaps I would have had, if we had not had the debate. We have considered the many aspects that the trustees will have to cover and the qualities that they should have.
I have no concerns about the make-up of the trustees. Hon. Members who want to serve are doing us all a service. Instead of their being pilloried, the House should be grateful that they are willing to serve on our behalf.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That Mr. John Butterfill, Dr Vincent Cable, Mr. Barry Gardiner, Mr. John MacGregor, Dr Nick Palmer, Dr Howard Stoate, Ms Gisela Stuart and Paddy Tipping be appointed Managing Trustees of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund in pursuance of Section 1 of the Parliamentary and other Pensions Act 1987.