WE’VE all started to contribute to our pensions, MHKs insist.
Tynwald will be asked at the first sitting of the court after the summer recess to vote on changing the members’ scheme to make contributions compulsory in future for those newly-elected or re-elected to the Manx parliament.
Voluntary contributions, phased in over three years starting at 3 per cent of salary and rising to 5 per cent, were introduced from April.
The Examiner revealed last week that five Tynwald members had still not been making voluntary contributions to their pension as at the August payroll.
The Clerk of Tynwald’s office – via the Treasury – supplied that information to us after an inquiry almost two weeks ago.
It was subsequently confirmed that the figure is actually four – as the five includes the Bishop who is not part of the Tynwald pension scheme. However, it is understood that the Attorney General, who also has separate pension arrangements, is not one of the other four.
We contacted each Tynwald member in turn to establish who was paying the minimum 3 per cent voluntary contribution - but the numbers still don’t add up.
All MHKs said that they were now contributing to the scheme.
Three – Treasury Minister Eddie Teare (Ayre), Laurence Skelly (Rushen) and Kate Beecroft (Douglas South) – said they were paying a higher rate of 5 per cent.
One – Bill Henderson (Douglas North) – said he was contributing now but conceded he may not have done so straight away.
‘I went over and put in my papers,’ he said. ‘It could well have been after April but before this furore in the summer’, he said.
Six MLCs – Dudley Butt, Alan Crowe, David Callister, Alex Downie, Phil Braidwood, Tony Wild – and Tynwald President Clare Christian all confirmed they were paying towards their members’ pension. Mr Butt and Mrs Christian said they were paying a higher rate of 5 per cent.
Eddie Lowey MLC declined to comment, saying he would not be ‘blackmailed into revealing personal details’. Mr Lowey is the member of the emoluments committee that proposed the phased contributions to the Tynwald members’ pensions which were approved at the March sitting of Tynwald.
Juan Turner MLC also declined to comment.
Clause B2 of the 1995 pension scheme does allow for members to opt out of the scheme altogether.
Speaker Steve Rodan, who chairs the emoluments committee, said Tynwald was being asked to bring into technical effect the changes to the 1995 pension scheme to allow for the compulsory contributions from all new members and those current members who are subsequently re-elected if they go out of office.
The report points out that members are not obliged to make a contribution until they go out of office.
Members who entered Tynwald before 1995 and chose to stay on the old pension scheme will get a pension based on the highest office they reached in their parliamentary career while those who joined after the current scheme was introduced in 1995 will get a pension based on their average pay over their whole career. Those elected to Tynwald before 1995 had the opportunity to stay on the old scheme or move to the new one.
Chief Minister Allan Bell said: ‘I was very surprised to hear that some members are still not making any contribution to their pension.
‘MHKs are not badly paid by any standard - certainly in comparison with wages levels we had a few years ago. Therefore there is no excuse, especially in the current climate, for any member to feel unable to make a contribution.’
But he added: ‘This is a parliamentary issue - I can’t force them to pay. But the current debate may make these members rethink their position.’
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