Orders of the Day — Parliamentary and Other Pensions Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:20 pm on 27th April 1987.

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Photo of Mr Brynmor John Mr Brynmor John , Pontypridd 9:20 pm, 27th April 1987

I shall detain the House for only a short while. Although this appears to be a constitutional Bill at first sight, it is not merely such a Bill. I want to voice my suspicion about anything that is unamendable. I hope that the Leader of the House will consider how amendments can be made because a "take it or leave it" option puts the House in a most invidious position.

The Bill allows us the opportunity to be rid of anomalies. No one here is after a gold-plated scheme. However, with the help of the funds in the scheme and the contribution of 9 per cent.—a very high figure indeed—that we make historically as contributors to the pension scheme, we deserve a reasonably good scheme. However, we certainly deserve a scheme which is rid of anomalies before the Bill is enacted.

I want to concentrate on the 60/20 rule. It is the greatest nonsense that if someone chooses to retire at or after his 60th birthday—which may fortunately be the day after a general election — having qualified after serving 20 years, he can draw his unabated pension in full. However, if he is faced with the choice of retiring at 58 or 59 and decides that another Parliament is not for him, he will either suffer an abatement of pension or, if he wants to wait for it in full, he will have to wait a number of years which may be beyond his financial means. Nor do I see why a person defeated in that age band should suffer any difference of treatment. Frankly, I believe that neither person is likely to get employment again.

I want the Leader of the House to look at this matter sympathetically. The Leader of the House was described as seeming to be sympathetic. I thought that he had a flinty tone about him tonight. I hope that that is simply role playing and the Leader of the House was merely playing "Biffen the hard man" rather than the real Leader of the House. If the pension is not drawn until 60, there is no additional charge to the fund and there is no difference between someone retiring at 58 or 59 or after the age of 60. Such a small worthwhile benefit is relatively free of cost and would improve the scheme, ridding it of one anomaly—widows are another anomaly—and that would make the scheme beneficial to the contributors. After all, if we are expecting people to pay 9 per cent. of their salary towards a contributory pension scheme, at the very least they should look forward to retiring in comfort comparable to those in outside industry without having to suffer a cut in pension as a penalty.