MPs are to take the same pension hits as public sector workers
All MPs will be subject to the same significant pension changes as thousands of public sector workers now on strike across the country, Prime Minister David Cameron has revealed – all thanks to a question in the Commons from Marlborough’s MP Claire Perry.
She asked him during question time yesterday (Wednesday):
“The Prime Minister alluded earlier to the contract between taxpayers and public servants, but there is also a contract between taxpayers and MPs.
“Does he agree that MPs should be in the vanguard of reforming pensions by reforming our own, so that we can look our public sector constituents in the face?
Mr Cameron replied: “I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. Members of the House are public sector workers too, and we should be subject to exactly the same changes that we are asking others to take on.
“Therefore, the increase in contributions should apply to the MP system, even though we already pay in quite a lot. We are saying that right across the board, the increase in pension contributions is right to create a healthier long-term system.”
Mrs Perry has today also written to the Leader of the House, Sir George Young pointing out: “In light of the tough choices the Government is having to make on public-sector pensions, I believe that Members should be leading by example and reform their own final-salary pension arrangements in the near future.
“I am aware that Ministers have been consulting with ISPA on the proposals however the lack of activity in the public eye could be construed as an attempt by MPs to not share the same brunt of the deficit reduction as the public sector.
“I would therefore like to urge for an acceleration in these reforms and would welcome your involvement to speed up the progress of the proposals.”
But one Marlborough teacher on strike today, who asked not to be identified, claimed that Mrs Perry’s “planted” question was all part of a government propaganda exercise to disguise the fact that it was unwilling to negotiate the core issues in its “so-called pension reforms”.
“All this talk about unsustainable and untenable public section pensions is not reflected in Lord Hutton’s report to the government, which is being used to manipulate the system,” said the teacher.
“According to him, despite the increase in longevity we all welcome, the cost of public sector pensions is declining, not rising. This is just another blatant attempt to bash the workers.”
The teacher accepted that strikes were unhelpful to the economy but insisted that the government’s “slash and burn” policies were as well.
There was concern that the pension changes would harm future recruitment of graduates already burdened with paying off tuition fees, and this would have a knock-on effect on Education Secretary’s Michael Gove’s reforms, some of which were welcome.
But the teacher returned to the pension debacle and added: “You only have to listen to government ministers on radio – or watch them on telly today – to see them squirming when they are asked pertinent questions they can’t answer.
“There is just this eternal mantra about people not going on strike while negotiations are still going on. They want to discuss the finite details and just refuse to budge an inch on the basic changes they are pushing through to our detriment. It’s so shameful.”