I am pleased to follow my hon. Friend Gloria De Piero, who has been a long-standing campaigner on this issue. I wish to congratulate my hon. Friend Grahame Morris on his passionate speech in opening this debate, and I thank him for it. It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to be here fighting for an issue that matters so much to the lives of many of my constituents in Barnsley East. This debate on the MPS follows my Adjournment debate on the same subject in February, where we discussed the contribution made to this country by miners who toiled for decades, and the money the Government have unfairly taken from their pension scheme. Although I am pleased that this debate has been granted—I thank the Backbench Business Committee for selecting it—what we need now is action, not more words.
Since the scheme was established, following the privatisation of British Coal in 1994, the Treasury has pocketed more than £4.4 billion, with nearly half a billion more over the next three years planned. Yet since 1987 the Government have not paid in a single penny, and instead claim their undertaking as guarantor makes this a fair price worth paying. In return, the average retired miner must get by on about £84 a week, while some are forced to settle for much less.