MHK: Pension ‘lie’ drags us all down

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

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‘Choose not to pay voluntary pension contributions, one thing. To lie about it drags us all down.’

That’s the message from Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson who has taken a bold step to prove he is paying towards his pension - by posting his payslip on Twitter.

His action was welcomed by followers on his Twitter account, with one saying: ‘It’s nice to see a politician putting their money where their mouth is.’

iomtoday revealed last month, via an access to information request, that one MHK was still not paying towards their pension, two and half years after voluntary contributions were introduced.

Back in October 2012, when we first reported that a number of Tynwald members were not making voluntary contributions, all MHKs told us by phone or by email that they were paying.

In fact, two MHKs did not contribute in 2012-13, one in 2013-14 didn’t pay and one had not contributed in the current financial year.

All MHKs again claimed to be contributing when asked by Manx Radio this week.

Juan Watterson is not the only MHK to have proved they are paying.

Douglas North MHK Bill Henderson showed us his payslips, confirming he has been paying since 2012 and so scotching speculation on social media. ‘I seem to be the subject of a vendetta,’ he claimed.

Health and Social Care Minister Howard Quayle also showed his payslip to our reporter proving he is paying the 5 per cent voluntary contribution, saying: ‘It’s sad that I’ve been forced into this position by the actions of one of my colleagues. I’m very disappointed that someone has lied.

‘It is unfortunate that one person has damaged the integrity of me and my colleagues. There’s no excuse. I think they should come forward.’

Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne contacted Treasury chief financial officer Malcolm Couch to confirm he had been paying voluntary contributions at the appropriate rate - and forwarded the confirmation to us. We invite all other MHKs to email us copies of their payslips, appropriately redacted and ideally from October or earlier, or else confirmation from Treasury.

Clearly, this will only prove who is paying, not who is not.

One MHK, Chris Thomas (Douglas West) is paying 5 per cent contributions compulsorily under new rules for all new-elected members.

But Malcolm Couch, Treasury chief financial officer, confirmed: ‘I can confirm that in the current year the MHK who is not paying the voluntary contribution is not a member who is obliged to pay a contribution.’

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