The pension arrangements for the holder of the post of Speaker of the House of Commons are long-standing and based on two, inter-connected assumptions.
The first is that the Speaker would invariably not be elected until approaching, or past, normal retirement age and would thus not stand down from his or her post – and, by precedent, from the House of Commons entirely – until at or well beyond retirement age. The second is that in part because of age but also due to the nature of the office, an ex-Speaker would be highly unlikely to seek or secure further full-time employment or income after retirement. These assumptions underpin the atypical nature of the Speaker’s pension.
In the case of the current Speaker, however, these historical assumptions do not hold. The Speaker was elected at the age of 46 and pledged at that time that, subject to the support of his constituency and the House, he would not seek to serve for more than nine years. The pension arrangements of the office of Speaker would therefore mean that in his case, he could thus retire in his mid-50s, be able to earn an income and also be in receipt of the Speaker pension at a relatively young age. The Speaker does not believe that this is right.
Having taken appropriate advice, he has therefore proposed before he leaves office to waive his entitlement to the Speaker’s pension until he reaches the age of 65. At current prices this will mean, along with the pay cut he took in 2010, a total minimum saving of approximately £430,000 to the exchequer. The Speaker believes it would be wrong, especially in the current economic conditions, not to depart from the status quo in his particular circumstances.
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