Letter handed to 10 Downing Street
by Dr. Ros Altmann
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The Rt. Hon. Tony Blair MP
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA
5th November 2006
I am writing to you today on behalf of the people who have lost pensions they were told – by your Government – were safe and protected by law.
The Government’s position on this matter is totally unsustainable. The Parliamentary Ombudsman and Public Administration Select Committee have both clearly shown why the loss of retirement security is directly the fault of the Government.
The issue does not revolve around the schemes, it is all about the members of those schemes. The fact that the schemes have failed is not the issue, the problem is that, when the schemes failed, they did not have sufficient assets to provide members’ pensions and there was no protection for them on wind-up, even though they were always assured – by Government – that they were properly protected. This is simply wrong. It is official ‘mis-selling’ of pensions and it is the laws governing wind-up (which are, of course, the responsibility of Government) which have taken their money away from them and removed all trustee discretion so that the assets could not be divided fairly. Trustees are, therefore, not responsible for member security on wind-up, it is the Government that is responsible and it has failed to live up to its promises on this. In other countries, when such pension schemes failed, members did not lose their pensions because they were properly protected. It is the UK framework that has let them down, but gave them no warning of the risks they faced and denied them any chance to protect their retirement income.
Please think again quickly on this issue and show that New Labour is about more than just spin and empty promises. This is a matter of natural justice and common decency. Maxwell pensioners – who lost out because of fraud – were rescued within a few weeks. These people have been left for years, even though their losses were caused by the Government.
I implore you to commit to compensating those affected and to admit that the Government let them down – please do the decent thing here.
Dr. Ros Altmann