HC Deb 08 February 2000 vol 344 cc110-1
11. Ms Rosie Winterton (Doncaster, Central)

If he will make a statement on the latest position regarding the bus employees' superannuation trust scheme and the National Bus Company pension fund scheme. [107316]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Mr. Keith Hill)

I have made it clear to the National Bus Company pension trustees that the Government understand and share the concern of NBC pensioners about the time it is taking to distribute the settlement sum we paid last July. I was pleased to be able to say in a written answer yesterday to a question from my hon. Friend that I understand that the trustees intend to make initial payments to some 8,000 older pensioners in March and April, and that they are also urgently investigating the feasibility of making an initial payment to other pensioners as soon as possible.

Ms Winterton

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply, and the Government for taking steps to right the injustice that the previous Tory Administration inflicted on NBC pensioners. The initial payment is welcome, but those pensioners are again at the mercy of lawyers, who despite having all the evidence, have failed to return to the High Court to get the final go-ahead for paying pensioners what they are owed. Will my hon. Friend take up the matter with the trustees urgently and tell them to get their act together? Fifty thousand pensioners should not spend their twilight years feeling like characters in "Bleak House".

Mr. Hill

My hon. Friend has done NBC pensioners a good service in highlighting possible delay in instituting further court proceedings. I shall pursue the matter with the chairman of the trustees when I meet her shortly.

My recollection of the case of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce in "Bleak House" is that it was never resolved. That will not happen to the NBC pensioners. After the Tory years of plunder and procrastination, the Government have made possible the distribution of the £350 million pension fund surplus to those pensioners. We are determined that that distribution will take place as quickly as possible.