Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:33 pm on 10th June 2019.

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Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change) 9:33 pm, 10th June 2019

The hon. Gentleman makes a powerful point—possibly with the aid of his calculator—that I had not put forward this evening, and it shows the scale of this injustice. He is right to state that on the Floor of the House for us all to hear.

The Minister for Energy and Clean Growth stated that she had

“asked BEIS officials to work with the Trustees to explore options for revising the scheme to the benefit of all parties.”

I think not; it needs to be to the benefit of one particular party to the scheme. If she was correct in stating that she had asked BEIS officials to work with trustees to explore options for revising the scheme, where are the changes? What has happened? My understanding is that nothing has happened—there have been no talks and there has been no action—and that all this is actually a few warm, or lukewarm, words about possible changes to the scheme when nothing is under way.

My expectation this evening is that the Minister will stand up and tell us two things. First, I want him to say that talks are going on to revise the scheme for the benefit not of all parties but of the mineworkers and that in fact I am wrong in saying that nothing has happened. I want him to say that something is happening. Secondly, I want him to agree that there should be not only talks to revise the scheme but a promise this evening that fundamental action will be taken now to change the amount of split that there is in the scheme and an acknowledgement that the risk to the Government is effectively nil and that they have effectively ridden freely on the backs of the miners for many years. I want the Minister to say, “This has to stop now and we are committed to making sure there will be justice for the miners in the future.”

I am confident, on the basis of this evening’s contribution, that that is what the Minister will say now, even if he was not thinking of saying it before, but I do hope that he had that in his mind before the debate began, because, given the eloquence, passion and support from all in the House this evening, that is the least he should do at the end of this debate.