On Thursday 14 February 2019, during an Adjournment Debate on the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme, the local Member of Parliament, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, called for urgent action from the Government.

Following the privatisation of British Coal in 1994, the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme was established whereby the Tory Government of the day committed that the Government would act as a guarantor to the pensions and support their value if the scheme struggled. In exchange for this guarantee, the Government and the scheme trustees agreed to split any surplus equally.

Following a valuation in 2017, the Scheme was found to have a surplus of just over £1.2 billion, half of which would be transferred to the Government over the next ten years, without the Government having to have contributed any of its own funds.

Whilst in July 2018, the Minister for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Claire Perry MP, stated in a response to a Parliamentary Questions on this issue that she had asked officials “to explore work with the Trustees to explore options for revising the scheme for the benefit of all parties”, the need for the Government to hasten the process along was highlighted during Thursday’s debate. The need for urgent intervention was stressed, given the time that has passed, to ensure that the beneficiaries get value from the scheme, and should the last of the miners and their beneficiaries enrolled in this scheme pass away, what would happen to the surplus.

MPs expressed concern that this sharing surplus agreement should be revised and that retired miners and their widows should receive their fair share.

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP put to the Chamber that “the very reason there has to be action soon is that if there is not, the miners themselves will not get benefit from it while they are alive.”

When asked further about this matter, Mr. Thomas-Symonds stated:

“Torfaen is an industrial community to its core. Indeed, many people in our community worked on our coal face and the economy built around this sector helped build our community and identity.  The Government should not continue to cream off its share of the surplus: our miners who put the money in in the first place deserve to get the benefit – I will continue to support them in this matter in Parliament.”

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