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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:30 pm on 19th July 2001.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook Lord Privy Seal 12:30 pm, 19th July 2001

I fully understand my hon. Friend's anxiety and I know that there are hardship cases such as those that he mentioned. The original bargain between the Treasury and the miners' pension scheme was that the Treasury would guarantee that pension payments would increase in line with inflation even if there was a deficit in the scheme. As my hon. Friend knows, there is currently a healthy surplus in the scheme, which means a substantial accrual rate to the fund year on year.

The other side of the bargain is that, in return for the guarantee in case of a deficit, the Treasury has the right to take up to 50 per cent. of any annual increase in the surplus. However, I full understand my hon. Friend's point. He knows that the trustees are currently reviewing the scheme. The Government are awaiting the outcome, which we are willing to discuss with trustees when we receive the review.