MPs snub their constituents

MEMBERS of Parliament are exempt from the perils of an impoverished old age as they have voted themselves a gold plated pension plan, one of the most generous in the country and the envy of private and public sector workers.

MEMBERS of Parliament are exempt from the perils of an impoverished old age as they have voted themselves a gold plated pension plan, one of the most generous in the country and the envy of private and public sector workers.

As more people grow older and live longer, the fear is that there will not be the money to cope with it in the years ahead. There is a pensions crisis in the UK, but MPs are immune from it.

Lord Turner last week made a commendable stab at trying to solve the problem for the rest of us, suggesting that in return for a retirement age of either 67 or 69 and saving into a compulsory pensions pot, the state old age pension will be more generous.

It was bad enough that the Chancellor of the Exchequer rubbished it as “unaffordable” before the plans had even been published. But when John Hutton, the Work and Pensions Secretary, made his House of Commons statement on Lord Turner's proposals, only 65 - out of 641- MPs were in the Chamber to listen.


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This two fingered salute to their constituents is little short of despicable - especially as MPs depend for their salaries and pensions on the very people who will be affected by the looming pensions disaster.

And unless you forget, it was Chancellor Brown's raid on the private pensions industry by ending tax credits which has made a difficult situation much worse. He is directly responsible for the decrease in value of private pension contributions and should not be allowed to gloss over the fact if and when he becomes Prime Minister.

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LIBERAL Democrat MPs, once the most loquacious people on the planet, have gone strangely silent. You can't normally keep them off the airwaves or out of the newspapers, but they have taken their lead from Charles Kennedy, who seems to have convinced himself that he can't compete for publicity against the Tory leadership contest and has thus contented himself with a bit part in the political hurly burly.

There is, however, a rival theory which paints the scenario that Mr Kennedy's days as Lib Dem leader are numbered. It's said that if you look closely, you can see some of his colleagues visibly wincing when he puts his questions to the Prime Minister on Wednesday afternoons.

Having made little momentum and virtually no impact since the General Election, Mr Kennedy is not flavour of the month among his colleagues and after the bruising he got at the annual conference in September, he may well face a challenge unless he bucks up his ideas.

He'll try on Thursday, stealing the Tories' clothes in a speech on Liberalism and Localism, in which he will explore the notion that the Liberal Democrats are the only party committed to devolving spending and taxation from central government towards local government

I ARRIVED at Frankfurt airport on Friday evening after attending a seminar at the European Central Bank to find scores of passengers in uproar. One British Airways flight to Heathrow had been cancelled due to a lightning strike while landing from a previous trip and BA had to provide at short notice a larger aircraft in which to cram nearly 300 passengers heading for the UK.

We took off in atrocious weather conditions and were buffeted about, while crosswinds and a torrential downpour at Heathrow lead to an interesting touchdown.

The flight number? BA911.

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