This House of Lords Library briefing provides information in support of the House of Lords consideration of the House of Commons Members’ Fund Bill.Jump to full report >>
The House of Commons Members’ Fund Bill is a private member’s bill introduced in the House of Commons by Sir Paul Beresford (Conservative MP for Mole Valley) under the ten minute rule. The Bill would update legislation governing the functions of the House of Commons Members’ Fund. The Fund was originally set up in 1939 to provide for discretionary grants to be made by the trustees of the Fund to ex-Members of Parliament who had attained 60 years of age and who had served as MPs for 10 years or more, their widow/ers and orphan children under 16. Subsequent legislation extended the scope of the Fund to authorise the trustees to make grants in cases of special hardship; make discretionary payments; and extended the definition of widow and widowers to include surviving civil partners.
The Bill was introduced as the House of Commons (Administration) Bill on 4 November 2015. Following a number of amendments made during committee stage in the House of Commons, including to the title, the Bill received its third reading in that House on 4 March 2016. The renamed Bill received its first reading in the House of Lords on 7 March 2016. The Bill is currently awaiting second reading.
The Explanatory Notes to the Bill, as introduced in the House of Commons, provide the following overview:
This Bill seeks to simplify and clarify existing legislation relating to the House of Commons Members Fund (HCMF) which is outdated, incomprehensible and rigid. It will streamline administration and reduce costs. The purpose of the Fund has been largely superseded by the introduction of Members’ pensions. The new legislation will reflect the changed and smaller demands on the Fund as the number of its clients dwindles. The Bill will enable flexibility in how the Fund is provisioned, reflecting changes in demands upon it. It will allow the initial repayment of a surplus accumulated due to the existing unsatisfactory arrangements. It will enable Trustees to suspend automatic deductions from Members’ pay and suspend the Treasury contribution when these are not needed.
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