Thursday, 25 June 2009

Downing St. u-turn on MP pensions - as it happened

Earlier this year Gordon Brown announced a series of changes to MPs terms and conditions that he wanted to see implemented at once. One that attracted little attention at the time was his suggestion that MPs pay just over £60 per month extra into their pensions. I looked at the figure and realised that this was not enough to prevent the taxpayer from also being asked to pay more in 2009/10. I took the view that this was not acceptable and tabled a motion to this effect along with Frank Field and Vince Cable. As I write it has 23 signatures, including one independently-minded Conservative.

There was then a delay in debating this aspect of the package but a motion was put down by Harriet Harman for debate today (Thursday 25th). On Tuesday night I tabled an amendment with Frank and Vince to freeze the taxpayer contribution at its (already generous) 2008/09 level. Until yesterday afternoon the Government were taking no notice, saying it was simply following what the Government Actuary had said. But a reporter from Bloomberg raised the issue at the afternoon lobby briefing, the press and broadcast media caught on to the story, and suddenly things took on a life of their own. The Conservatives announced they would back my amendment, and by mid-evening Downing Street said that if my amendment was selected for debate they would accept it!

This is only a relatively modest change, and a review body is quite rightly looking at root-and-branch reform of the MPs' pension scheme. But hopefully it does send a signal that MPs are realising that we can no longer give the impression that too many of us live in a bubble sealed off from the real world.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Until MPs have to acquire annuities or purchase their pensions like the rest of us they will have no understanding of real cost of a pension.
Mr Browns raid on the pension funds or the failure of various governments to protect the public from the Equitable Life fiasco highlight the parliarmentarians remoteness from the real world