MP calls for a pit pensions inquiry

Miners at Thoresby Colliery
Miners at Thoresby Colliery

Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero is calling for a select committee inquiry into the mineworkers’ pension scheme as new figures reveal that the government has received £3.4bn from its pension pot.

The MP has written to the chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee, Iain Wright MP, asking for the committee to look into the surplus sharing arrangement between the Government and the members of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (MPS).

Under the current arrangement, any surplus made by the pension scheme is shared 50-50 between the Government, as guarantor of the scheme, and the miners who have paid into it throughout their working lives.

According to information obtained by Ms De Piero from a parliamentary question, the Government has received a £3.4bn since the arrangement was made in 1994.

She has called for the arrangement to be renegotiated.

The MP said: “I believe that the ex- and retired miners and their widows should be benefitting from strong investment returns made from their own pension contributions to a greater extent than they are now.

She added: “I would like the select committee to open an inquiry into the MPS so that the surplus sharing arrangement can be publicly scrutinised and the injustice of the current deal can be laid bare for all to see.”

Ms de Piero has already raised this issue in the House of Commons and is waiting for the date of a meeting with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to be confirmed.

At the meeting she will be asking for ministers to enter into negotiations with the trustees of the mineworkers’ pension schemes and representatives of miners’ unions.

in an online blog The MP said: “It dates back to 1994 when British Coal was privatised and an arrangement was made between the Government and the trustees of the British Coal pension.

One of the key elements of this deal was that the Government would guarantee any pension fund earned up to this point so that the miners would always get the pension they were expecting.

In return, the pension schemes would be subject to periodic valuations and any surplus would be split 50-50 between scheme members and the Government.

Since that time, the Government has had to fulfil its role as guarantor on three occasions.

But the scheme has been in surplus more than it has not.

“The deal goes too far in the Government’s favour and the Treasury is taking too much money from a fund that should be benefitting the 250,000 ex-miners or their dependents.”