It is a pleasure to follow Edward Miliband. My constituency covers what was formerly known as National Coal Board Scotland west area—a thriving mining community in its day—and this is one of a series of debates brought over the years in a bid to seek a fairer distribution of the surplus from the mineworkers’ pension scheme. The scheme was, in effect, divided into four sub funds—the guarantee fund, bonus augmentation, guarantors, and investment reserve—with it being possible to vire moneys between some sub-funds, as appropriate, but the bonus augmentation fund is an exception, because there is no provision by which to make up any shortfall. The mineworkers’ total pension payable is protected, rises in line with inflation, and does not fall in cash terms.
There has been a long history of reasonable and fair requests for changes from former mineworkers, their widows, the Coalfield Communities Campaign and many others, including myself, whose relatives were miners. In my case, my father, my father in law and many other family members were miners. We empathise with those who served in the pits and who are seeking a pension commensurate with the daily dangers that they encountered at the coalface.