Nottinghamshire campaigner's anger over Prime Minister 'misleading' mineworkers in Worksop and Bassetlaw over pension scheme
A leading campaigner has hit out at the Prime Minister for raising false hopes over miners’ pension cash in Nottinghamshire.
Mick Newton, who represents former mineworkers in Notts, spoke out after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was quizzed by MPs over a promise regarding returning pensions cash to miners.
Mr Johnson promised two years ago he would return pensions cash to miners – but rejected a Commons Select Committee’s proposal to do just that.
Mr Newton, a former miner at Thoresby Colliery, said: “The Select Committee clearly identified the pension injustices being played out against former mineworkers and widows.
“These injustices are not a matter of opinion, they are the proven reality.
“The Prime Minister has misled thousands of people and raised false hope within our communities.
“The way this Government is treating pensioners is both cruel and callous.
“I appeal to all MPs in former coalfield areas to step up and challenge the Prime Minister regarding his inaction on mineworkers pensions.
“They need to do that now, and every single day until this issue is resolved, we are watching and waiting.”
Mr Johnson made the pledge ahead of the 2019 General Election in Mansfield – but said he would have to check up on his quotation to the ‘Mansfield Chap’ when he appeared before the Commons Liaison Committee.
He had made the vow on a visit to Mansfield ahead of polling day.
He made a ‘categorical’ pledge to former miners that they will soon receive their 'fair share’ of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme.
When miners signed up to the scheme in 1994, they were told by the government ‘no more than £2 billion’ was needed from the pot to guarantee its future.
However, campaigners have hit out at successive governments after an accepted figure of more than £4.5bn was taken from the pot over the last 25 years – meaning some miners and their families were not receiving ample funds for their investment.
Mr Johnson was quizzed over his promise when he appeared before the Commons Liaison Committee.
Darren Jones, Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee chairman, said: “My final question, Prime Minister, is about my committee’s inquiry into the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme.
“We called for 100 per cent of the profits from that pension scheme to go to the pensioners, instead of the Government pocketing 50 per cent of the surplus, as it has done historically.
“During the 2019 General Election, in Mansfield, you said, and I’m quoting here, ‘I want to tell the Mansfield Chap categorically that we will make sure that no Mansfield miner, or any other miner signed up to Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme, is out of pocket.
"We will make sure that all their cash is fully protected and returned. I have looked into it and we will ensure that’s done’.
“But Prime Minister, you rejected my committee’s proposals to return those profits to the pensioners.
“I’m not sure why you said to those voters why you had looked into it and why you’d return all their cash, when since, your government has clearly not done either.
“Did you mislead those voters in 2019?”
Mr Johnson replied: “I can tell you Mr Jones that I certainly didn’t wish to give those voters any false impression.”
Mr Jones said: “You said specifically you had looked into it and would ensure it would be done. You said it was categorical, that suggests there was some thought to it.”
And Mr Johnson replied: “I will have to get back you on my quotation in the Mansfield Chap and I will write to you as soon as you can.”