Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme

Part of Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill [Lords]: (Business of the House) – in the House of Commons at 6:12 pm on 14th February 2019.

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Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth) 6:12 pm, 14th February 2019

May I sincerely congratulate Stephanie Peacock on securing this debate and on a superb, passionate speech? It was brilliant to hear.

I need to declare a strong interest in this matter. There is a reason why I take my stewardship of the scheme incredibly seriously, and that is because my mother-in-law is a beneficiary. She is a widow and her husband, Bill O’Neill, who was a leading light in the coke workers union, died very young as a result of his many years of service underground. Indeed, my husband turned down a job in the Keresley pit at the age of 16, but got into trouble at university for helping to organise the blockade of ports on the east coast to stop the imports of Polish coal, so I will not take any lessons from anybody in this Chamber about the impact of the scheme or the feelings that have been raised over the years, which were so powerfully expressed by the hon. Lady. I completely share her view that one thing that we always need to focus on is the sheer blood, sweat, tears and toil that went into building our industrial revolution. One of the marvellous things about my current portfolio is the opportunity perhaps to repurpose some of that work, through things such as geothermal energy projects, to basically create energy for the next generation, based on the effort that went in.

I want to pick up some of the hon. Lady’s points about how the scheme is working and touch on some of the issues around cash flow. It is a little unfair of Gloria De Piero to say that there has been no engagement. There has been a lot of engagement on this process. I continue to be interested in what the trustees are bringing forward; indeed, I was discussing this with the Chancellor only today.