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The House of Commons Members’ Fund (HCMF) was established in 1939, before a pension scheme was established in 1964, to help former Members and their dependents who had financial difficulty.  Its original purpose was to provide former Members, their widows and orphan children with a discretionary grant in lieu of a pension. Subsequent amendments allowed grants to be made to alleviate hardship, gave Trustees greater discretion and introduced “as of right” payments to certain Members who left the House before the Parliamentary Contributory Pension fund was established.

In two successive years – 2013/14 and 2014/15 – chair of the Trustees of the House of Commons Members Fund, Peter Lilley, attempted to introduce legislation to reform the HCMF by means of a Private Members’ Bill. The aim was to amend and consolidate provisions relating to the House of Commons Members’ Fund. A review of the Fund by John Stoker and Lord Burnett in April 2007 recommended that the Fund be divided into two functions – to provide a benevolent function; and to meet “as of rights” payments.  

 On Wednesday 4 November 2015 Sir Paul Beresford presented the House of Commons (Administration) Bill (HC Bill 91) to Parliament. Similar to the two previous Bills, the aim is to “consolidate and amend provisions about the House of Commons Members’ Fund; and to make provision about the House of Commons resources estimates.” He explained that the Bill would empower Trustees to cease requiring contributions from Members and to return surplus funds to the Treasury. It would extend the class of beneficiaries to assist all dependants of former Members who experience severe hardship. It would also allow one of the Trustees to be a former MP.

The Bill was given its Second Reading on 4 December 2015.  At Public Bill Committee on 24 February 2016 amendments included removing from the Treasury any responsibility for making payments to the fund. The title of the Bill was changed to the House of Commons (Members’ Fund) No 2 Bill 2015-16.

The Bill is scheduled to have its Report Stage on 4 March 2016.

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