Press Release: SNP Playing Politics with Pensions

Edinburgh East MP and Work and Pensions Select Committee member Sheila Gilmore has today called on the SNP to stop playing politics with people’s pensions.

Commenting following last week’s debate in the House of Commons on the Public Service Pensions Bill, Sheila Gilmore MP said:

Scottish Labour MPs at Westminster have been fighting tooth and nail at every stage of this Bill to try to make the changes that are necessary to make these pension changes fairer.

Last week we saw just how hypocritical the SNP are. In the House of Commons, they argued for only a few changes to the Bill. And then we found out that despite being asked by the UK Government, the SNP Government in Edinburgh didn’t suggest a single change to the pension law.

This came just days after John Swinney gave up trying to keep his power to negotiate the terms of the Local Government Pension Scheme at Holyrood, allowing it to pass to the Tory-led UK Government. A move that Scottish Labour opposed and tried to reverse.

What’s clear is that the SNP would rather play politics and try to engineer a row than get on with the hard work of trying to make this Bill fairer. This Bill still has to pass through all its stages in the House of Lords and Scottish Labour will be continuing to fight for the best possible deal.

Notes to Editors

1. During the debate on the Public Service Pensions Bill on Tuesday, a UK Government Minister revealed that the SNP Scottish Government had been asked to suggest amendments to the Bill, but had provided none.

Sajid Javid, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, 4th December 2012:

If the Scottish Government wanted to suggest any amendments, we would of course have a sensible discussion with them about that. Over the past year the Chief Secretary has written on a monthly basis to the Scottish Government about the public service pension reforms, and we have asked many times whether they would like to consider amending the Bill. They have not requested any such changes so far.

2. Sheila Gilmore is a member of the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee. You can view the committee’s website here:
http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-archive/work-and-pensions-committee/

3. For more information please contact Matt Brennan, Parliamentary Assistant to Sheila Gilmore MP, on 020 7219 7062, 07742 986 513 or matthew.brennan@parliament.uk.

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Pensions, public service and resistance – flyer for public meeting


publicmeeting (3)

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Goodbye to ‘Hogwarts’ – for now!

The Commons ‘broke up’ this week. It really did feel like the ‘end of term’, coming just as I was beginning to feel that I was getting my head around the way the place works. I still have the feeling that, as in Hogwarts, the statues probably move around when we are not there, and that it is quite possible that the entrances to rooms shift from time to time.

One of the ‘traditions’ is that on the ‘last day of term’ there is a debate during which MPs can speak on anything they like. I decided to give this is go, and did manage to speak (although more than 50 MPs had put in a request.). It still involved a lot of sitting in the Chamber (the debate started about 2pm and I spoke after 5pm) and standing up and sitting down as each previous speaker finished.

One of the issues I took up was the way in which many parts of the media and the Coalition Government are creating a narrative in which civil servants are being presented as ‘fat cats’ with ‘gold plated’ pensions. This narrative builds on the first image which probably springs to mind for many when the words ‘civil servant’ – a ‘Sir Humphry’ type figuring sitting in his London club.

Yes Minister

The cast of Yes Minister

But the reality of course is that most ‘civil servants’ are doing important but fairly ordinary clerical jobs – making sure for instance that others get their benefit payments on time. It is very important that we counter the image the Coalition is peddling because not only are many job cuts pending but in September the government is bringing forward legislation to cut redundancy payments for civil servants – hence the ‘softening up’ of public opinion to make it easier to get these changes through. You can view my speech here.

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