Campaigns. It is important that I continue to know the strength of feeling on an issue and I prefer to respond to every inquiry, but the sheer size of campaign correspondence means that it is hard to justify to the tax payer the cost and time taken for individual written replies, so regrettably I will no longer reply to every item of campaign correspondence.  I will  post a response to the campaign on the "Responses to campaigns" page of my website.

I am sorry to do this, as it is rather impersonal, but can see no other way of maintaining a good service for all my constituents unless I approach campaigns this way.


20 FEB 2018

Higher Education Pension

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Universities Superannuation Scheme and related EDM, number 619.

I realise you would like me to sign EDM 619, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.

Nonetheless, I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Education is of interest:

Universities and their staff play a vital role in our economy, ensuring that people have the skills they need to get on in life.
Universities are subject to regular assessment of their financial sustainability, management and governance. Government sets the legislative framework for pension schemes to operate within. However, it is for the trustee and employer to agree appropriate plans to ensure schemes are adequately funded. This is overseen by the independent Pensions Regulator. Where The Pensions Regulator believes that a scheme's position warrants its involvement, it can intervene. Importantly, it has powers to protect member benefits under circumstances set out in legislation, and that remains the case.
There is a review of the scheme every three years, and that a recent study found the ability of employers to financially support the scheme is strong and can be expected to remain so for at least 30 years.

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