Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 3:56 pm ar 6 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Minister without Portfolio 3:56, 6 Chwefror 2024

So the right hon. Lady could not apologise. She could not, or did not want to, stop the waste of hundreds of billions of pounds.

I will say this: the Government accept that the current legislation is now a third of a century old, and that this may be an appropriate time to review it and consider changes, but this is not the right time or place to take action. Proper consideration must be given to new legislation.

As Members will know, severance pay is governed by legislation. The statutory provision for ministerial severance pay is contained in the Ministerial and other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991. It has therefore been in place for successive Administrations, and has been paid to Members of all three parties who have made ministerial office during this period. Under the Act, Ministers who leave office are entitled to a payment equivalent to a quarter of the annual salary that they were being paid in respect of the ministerial office that they are leaving. To be eligible for a payment, they must be under a certain age—65—and must not be reappointed to ministerial office within three weeks of leaving their previous office.

I note—and I thank the right hon. Lady for drawing it to my attention—that in 2022 a small number of severance payments were made incorrectly to departing Ministers. I want to make it clear that the Cabinet Office guidance to Departments is that they should seek to recover any mispayment in line with His Majesty’s Treasury’s guidance, “Managing Public Money”. While the incorrect payments were caused by an administrative error and the former Ministers concerned were at no personal fault whatsoever, it is important that the Government seek to recover that money. I am sure I am not the only one who recalls the catastrophic overpayment of tax credits when Labour was last in office, and the fact that many families got into huge difficulties because of that. It is such a shame that the right hon. Lady was not so exercised about that when they were in office.