The Pensions Bill

THE Pensions Bill, debated in the Commons this week, is in one way a triumph for the former Allied Steel and Wire workers from Cardiff.

When passed it will bring in the protection that was missing when ASW closed down, and its employees found they had lost their jobs and their pensions.

But it doesn’t provide assistance to 50,000 or so workers across the UK who have lost out in this way.

As I said in the Commons this week, there are moral, legal and public interest grounds, for helping these workers.

Morally this is a case of mis-selling.
ASW workers had good reason to believe their pensions were safe.
Until 1988, they were compelled to join the scheme as a condition of employment.

Information from governments, quangos and employers told them their pensions were safe.
They never received a health warning that they were betting their retirement on one share; that of their employer.

Legally, the ISTC and Amicus unions are suing the government.
In the 1980s the Thatcher government failed to protect occupational pensions as required by European Law.
Why line the pockets of lawyers, only to have to pay out compensation when the case is decided?

Finally, it is in the public interest to reimburse these workers with the pensions they were promised.
The case of ASW and others is drowning out the good news that should win praise for the Government.
How will confidence in occupational pensions be restored if 50,000 people are saying “don’t believe a promise that your pension is now protected, look what happened to us?”

So the campaign goes on.
With the budget coming up on March 17th, we should all let the Chancellor know that this is one bit of extra public spending which would be worth every penny.