§ Mr. Cockeram
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what procedures have been adopted for the payment of social grants to the National Coal Board following the improvements in redundancy terms effective from 11 March 1981.
§ Mr. John Moore
I indicated during the Committee stage of the Coal Industry Bill — 11 February 1982,Official Report, c. 49–51—that the National Coal Board has negotiated with the mining unions very substantial improvements in the benefits payable under the industry's pension schemes to or in respect of persons becoming eligible for the RMPS on or after 11 March 1981, and that the Government would agree with the board the procedures for reimbursing the cost of paying these early and enhanced pensions. I made it clear in bringing the 1982 Bill before the House that social grant payments are expected to continue and that suitable statutory powers will be sought to permit this.
I can now report that the Government have agreed with the board a set of ground rules for determining the amount of the board's cost of paying the pensions that would normally be reimbursed. It provides for the cost to the appropriate pension scheme associated with the additional benefits payable to, or in respect of, a new entrant to the RMPS, estimated on an actuarial basis, to be paid by the Government in instalments, starting after the end of the year in which the redundancy took place. This arrangement means that the cost of each new redundant person will be met in 10 annual instalments and thus there will be continuing payments of social grants in respect of these cases.
Payments to the staff superannuation scheme in respect of non-industrial staff, half the cost of which the Government reimburses under section 6 of the Coal Industry Act 1977 in cases where redundancy arises in 379W relation to pit closures, are being reorganised in the same way, by 10 annual instalments with continuing payment of grants.