Cameron on MPs' Pensions
Yet another BeeLine with thanks to the eagle-eyed efforts of stalwart BeeLiners Roy Pearce and Malcolm Deering (thanks guys). I don’t know if you’ve picked up on this elsewhere, but David Cameron, the Conservative Party leader, held a press conference yesterday in which he made some strong comments about MPs' pensions and public sector pensions. As you’ll know, pensions now appear to be getting higher up the political agenda by the day and it’s highly significant, I think, that the party leaders are now talking publicly about pension issues.
You may remember that I kicked off the BeeLines for 2007 with a paper called Our three pension crises. In that BeeLine I set out what I thought were three separate crises that we collectively refer to as ‘the pension crisis’ these days. The first was the fact that half the UK workforce has little or no pension provision; the second that our private sector final salary schemes appear to be in meltdown; and the third was the growth of unfunded public sector final salary pensions and the problem of how we would be able to pay for them going forward. As you know there has been plenty written on the first two, but relatively little written or said about unfunded public sector schemes. Well, that seems to be changing.
Yesterday’s press conference was held to go through the latest paper from the party’s Democracy Taskforce. The report, which you can download from a link at the end of this BeeLine if you like, suggested that the MPs' own pension scheme should be closed to new entrants. That was described by David Cameron as being an ‘important and timely proposal’. He went on to say ‘I think that if MPs want to look other state sector employees in the eye, and say we really do need to look at and reform pension arrangements to make them affordable, we have to look at our own arrangements and recognise that a very generous final salary scheme going forward is not appropriate.’
That’s a strong statement, I think, particularly as Cameron went on to add: ‘The proposal is a reasonable one, and one I think we should take on, and if we were in government one which we would put in place. We don’t have to write our manifesto today, but I think I’ve made it pretty clear.’
Speaking specifically about the growing divide between private sector pension schemes and public sector pension schemes in the UK he even went as far as to say that such ‘pensions apartheid’ should not be allowed to develop.
As I said earlier I think that these statements are highly significant. If you want to you can read the report that was published today by the Democracy Taskforce by following this link to a downloadable pdf file:
15 January 2008
Conservative Party website, News 15 January 2008.
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