Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:00 am on 5th December 2017.

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Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Opposition Whip (Commons) 11:00 am, 5th December 2017

My hon. Friend makes a really good point that gets to the nub of the question we are considering.

I called for the debate following the productive meeting that Labour colleagues and I had with the scheme trustees recently. At the meeting, we looked at ways of improving outcomes for the scheme’s members, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend Gloria De Piero for organising it.

On the scheme itself, in 1994, there was an agreement between British Coal pension trustees and the Government. The Government made a guarantee that any pensions earned up until privatisation were safe and would not fall in cash terms. In return, if the schemes were in surplus and doing well, that surplus would be split 50:50, with half going to scheme members and the other half to the Government. The sharing of the surplus is at the heart of our discussion.

Since 1994, the Government have taken £3.5 billion out of the scheme, without making any payments into it. It could be argued that £830 million of that was British Coal’s original share of the surplus being paid back to the Government—I sort of get that and it is a fair point.