Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:09 pm on 10th June 2019.

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Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 9:09 pm, 10th June 2019

Well, I think we will hear whether Treasury Ministers see it in quite that way at the end of the debate.

The other unfairness is that, as hon. Members have said, the 50-50 split is completely arbitrary. No reason has yet been given as to why the split should not be 70-30 or even 90-10. Another point worth bearing in mind is not just that the mineworkers contributed to the scheme, but that for many years miners were not well-paid industrial workers. I hope my hon. Friend Mr Skinner is not going to correct me, but my recollection is that, in 1972, the average wage of a miner was £26 a week. By no stretch of the imagination were people having a high standard of living, and the very least they can expect is that they and their families have a decent and dignified retirement.

Not only is this unfair, but it is also urgent. My hon. Friend Nick Smith spoke beautifully about the impact on his family of the accidents and ill health that came with being a miner. In my constituency, the wards where the former miners live have a healthy life expectancy fully 10 years less than in other parts of the constituency. These are not one-off anecdotes; this is a whole systematic impact on communities.

My final point is that this is completely affordable. I think we have heard that the value of the pension to individual miners is now about £4,000 a year. As my right hon. Friend Edward Miliband said, the Treasury has grabbed the £4 billion, and having done this deal it is trying to hold on to it. I would like to set this in context. This is a Government whose Members are seriously considering electing as the next Prime Minister of this country somebody promising tax cuts worth £4,500 to everybody with an income over £50,000 a year. Surely if there is any commitment to justice in this country, before there are any more tax cuts for any wealthy people, the mineworkers should get their money.