I am sure the hon. Gentleman will be the first to acknowledge—the point has already been made—that, sadly, one of the results has been that many people who are in receipt of this pension scheme, including Mr Campbell, who was in his place, no longer live in those coalfield communities, but they have benefited as pensioners from many of the other pension benefits that that income has gone towards providing.
I met, and was incredibly impressed with the trustees. Relative to other schemes, the results they have provided and the compassion and generosity with which they administer the scheme are second to none, and we should pay tribute to them for that. I point out again that the returns from the Government underwriting of the scheme are about a third higher in real terms than they would have been.
I want to turn to something that has been suggested by the trustees. When I met them—and perhaps the hon. Member for Barnsley East and I should meet them together to have the same conversation; I will be happy to do that—they indicated to me that they understood that changing the surplus sharing arrangements, as was considered by the last Labour Government and rejected, was not the biggest priority. The biggest priority was protecting the accrued bonuses and making sure that the scheme could proceed on that basis. They have come forward with some excellent proposals and I commend them for that. I had a brief discussion this evening with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor about my interest and the Treasury’s interest in properly reviewing those proposals and taking them forward. I am very happy to have those conversations face to face, as I have committed to do.
I genuinely admire the hon. Lady’s speech. It is brilliant to see her and so many colleagues standing up for a group of people who many may argue gave more to the system than they received from it. As a family member, I am proud to acknowledge that and to stand up as the steward of the scheme and pledge to her that I will do my best to ensure that it continues to deliver.
I do want to say that the trustees’ proposals are excellent, albeit we need to look at the cash flow implications. We will continue to explore options and I am very happy to do that on a cross-party basis with all Members who would be interested in doing so.
Question put and agreed to.