Pension lottery

EACH week MPs enter a sort of raffle, and roughly the top ten get to ask the Prime Minister a question in the House of Commons.

If you are the Leader of the Conservatives or Liberals you automatically get your own slot at Prime Ministers Questions.
Michael Howard can ask six questions, Charles Kennedy two.

For the rest of us winning the raffle is the only sure way of being called by Mr Speaker, that means the odds are about 50 to 1 against an MP’s number coming up in any given week.

On average once a year is about all you can hope for as a backbencher at Prime Ministers Questions.

This week I came out at number 5, which gave me a chance to highlight the Allied Steel and Wire pension injustice again in front of a packed chamber.
Once the Hutton Report and top-up fees are dealt with, this is going to be a very big issue with the publication of the Pensions Bill.

I wanted to do two things; remind the Prime Minister about the need for compensation, and tell the MPs about a letter that had been leaked to me.

It was a note from the Conservative Pension Spokesman Nigel Waterson, advising his backbenchers not to sign a motion I have tabled in the Commons in support of compensation.

I was annoyed, because in public he and his colleagues have been pretending that they are supportive of compensation.

I hope that they will now come clean and say whether they support helping the ASW workers or not.

And I hope that the Government will agree to use the Pensions Bill to help the ASW workers and others in a similar position.

Prime Minister’s Questions may be a raffle, but getting the pension you’ve been promised should not be a lottery!