AN opposition MHK is calling for the existing Tynwald members’ pension scheme to be closed after the general election.
But Liberal Vannin MHK Kate Beecroft’s proposal has been dismissed as ‘political posturing’ by Treasury Minister Eddie Teare.
Meanwhile, Tynwald members will no longer be able to claim mileage expenses for travelling from home to the Legislative Buildings.
The proposals, which will also see the higher mileage rate scrapped for bigger engine size vehicles, are expected to save £77,000 a year and will come into effect from April 1 if an order is approved by Tynwald next week.
Douglas South MHK Mrs Beecroft has tabled a motion to this month’s Tynwald sitting calling for the current Tynwald members’ pension scheme to be closed with effect from the next general election and for the emoluments committee to prepare details of a replacement money purchase scheme.
Tynwald pensions have rarely been out of the headlines.
In October last year, the Examiner revealed that four members were not contributing to their pensions. A 3 per cent voluntary contribution was introduced in March last year, which will rise to 4 per cent next month and to 5 per cent by April 2014. All MHKs subsequently said they had agreed to pay up.
Mrs Beecroft said: ‘A lot of MHKs are saying the old public sector pension scheme should be closed to new members on the basis that it’s not fair and divisive. We should be leading by example and do it first. Under a money purchase scheme you don’t get out what you don’t put in. You’re not building up a liability.’
But Mr Teare said: ‘This is just political posturing and nothing more.
‘It will be interesting to hear the debate. But Mrs Beecroft has not consulted me for a start. She has no figures from Treasury.’
The Treasury Minister pointed out members were on a fixed five-year contract and insisted they were not paid ‘that much for the responsibilities involved’. ‘I’m responsible for a £1bn a year budget. But I don’t do the job for the money – I do it for the community.’
Mrs Beecroft said that while the new unified public sector scheme had only recently been implemented, it should be closed to new entrants if it is to be made sustainable.
Mr Teare said a commitment had been made to the civil service unions to keep the existing terms and conditions in place for two years but he did not rule out a review in future.
A call to scrap on-island mileage expenses was made five years ago by David Cretney, the then Trade and Industry Minister and now Infrastructure Minister, following concerns about the size of claims made by some members for travelling from their home to the office.
Former Rushen MHK Quintin Gill, ousted at the last general election, was widely criticised in 2009 when he topped the table for claiming members’ mileage expenses.
He was paid £4,009.82 for the financial year 2008-09, more than 30 per cent of the total paid out to members – and argued that this was justified as his place of work was his constituency home in Rushen.
A review was subsequently carried out by the Tynwald emoluments committee which rejected Mr Cretney’s proposal but recommended that mileage allowance claims by Tynwald members should be made public on a regular basis.
Some 15 Tynwald members claimed mileage allowance in 2006-07 but that number had fallen to just seven in 2008-09. Since the last general election, just two members have claimed on-island travel expenses – Eddie Lowey MLC, who has now retired, claimed £1,747 from October 2011 and Ramsey MHK Leonard Singer who has claimed £1,524 since October 2011, but has not claimed anything since July last year.
Mr Teare said the change to travel expenses was all about ‘fairness’.
He explained: ‘Most people don’t get paid to travel from home to work. Civil servants don’t get paid to travel from home to work. Members’ salaries are tried by analogy to the civil service. Why should Tynwald members be paid to travel from home to their normal place of business in the legislative buildings?’
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