24/08/2014 Sunday Politics Scotland


Gordon Brewer presents the latest political news, interviews and debate.

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Good morning and welcome to Sunday Politics Scotland.


Pensions are a key issue in the referendum -


we look at the competing claims from both campaigns.


You would be surprised at how little importance people look at pensions


with in your working career. It is not until we get closer to


retirement that it becomes a big issue. Age 55 and over becomes,


where is my pension, where is it coming from?


And Alex Salmond's former head of policy tells us we can transform


society and lead ourselves to a better world.


For most people in work, it's something that you prefer not


to think about, but for those edging past 55, suddenly pensions


They provide security and stability in the "third age",


and any fundamental political changes could threaten that.


But so could the changing shape of our population.


In the referendum campaign, both sides have been trying to


assure us that, whatever happens, there will be continuity.


The Scottish Government's White Paper outlines a single-tier pension


Westminster plans include a single-tier pension


But, as Andrew Kerr reports, a little nest egg stored away to


emerge 30 years later is something to value.


The water of life sampled by these two lists on Edinburgh's Royal mile,


long anticipated and a final reward after years of storage, much like a


pension. As arguments in the independence debate are distilled


down, this is out as a key issue for voters. Better Together have been


warning the EU will continue to require cross-border pension schemes


to be fully funded in an independent Scotland. The trade association for


workplace pension schemes warns this could be expensive. They have


potentially two options. They could close the scheme altogether because


of the costs involved or they could split that scheme into. A scheme


north of the border and in the south. Those would come at a great


cost indeed and they would have to find that money, which could be


invested elsewhere in the business. Ultimately, those costs could be


passed on to the people, the Sabres follow schemes. -- the savers. Some


experts say the industry has caught with change in the past and any


future development will run smoothly. Pensions in the UK have


gone through significant change in all of my career. Every decade has


seen a significant regulatory change which has been managed and delivered


etc etc. I see an independent Scotland where there will be changes


to the pension system, but I do not see that negatively. I think it can


happen. There is an amazing intellect in Scotland around the


whole pensions industry and I think an independent Scotland could take


advantage of that. So, with" best. As with any long-term prospects, who


knows what the future holds. He has to check the whisky every once in


awhile to make sure it is just right. And we as taxpayers probably


have to manage our own expectations when it comes to pensions. Remember


when the state pension was first introduced, people lived only a few


years more than the average state pension now. Life expectancy in


Scotland is 78 or so. State pension age is 65 and heading that way


forward in as well. The number of years that people expect the state


to look after them has kind of increased quite substantially. Of


course, there is no pension fund as such that people contribute to and


then draw from. It does not work that way. People in work now are


paying for today's pensioners but you have to get the right ratio. The


pensioners of the future will continue to rely on those who work.


It will depend on how much they pay and are willing to pay in taxes to


support older people. Whether the expectations that people have now


can continue to be realised, it is something Government is aware of and


it is kind to rein back on the expectation that it will would


spend, say, more than a third of their life in receiving a pension.


With independence or the union, perhaps no-one is sure of the taste


of things to come as the population changes. He gets all the best


locations, doesn't he? Today's Sunday Post has carried out


a poll of 1,000 pensioners on their Nearly 90% intend to vote, 32.6%


intend to vote yes, 54.8% intend Stripping out


the "don't knows" takes it to 37% The majority say pensions has been


a factor in their decision. Nearly 75% have some concerns how


the state pension will be funded Just over 40% also expressed concern


about how the state pension would be funded


if Scotland remains part of the UK. Joining me is


Labour MP Gregg McClymont, and from Aberdeen, Dr Eilidh Whiteford, who


is the SNP pensions spokesperson. Eilidh Whiteford, it is pretty clear


people are concerned about... Let's start with the state pension in


independent Scotland. Are they right to be worried? The UK Government and


Scottish Government have made very clear that your entitlement to a


state pension is based on your contributions record and not on


either where you live or what your citizenship is. If you think about


it at the moment, lots of people, when they retire, go off to Spain or


France or somewhere sunny and still get their pension. Government has


been very clear that it is based on your contribution, not on where you


live. I think a lot of the scaremongering we have seen on state


pensions has been quite unnecessary and is not backed up by reality. All


right. Gregg McClymont, that is right. Let's stick to the state


pension. Even the British Government seems to accept that if Britain


becomes independent, pensioners will get what they would have got if we


were part of the UK. -- Scotland becomes. Pensioners do not even know


the currency that they will get their pension in. It is not a


surprise that pensioners are concerned or anxious about what


independence means for pensions. What Tim acted as not mention is


that the state pension entitlement would need a series of negotiations


between Scotland and the UK and around currency and pensions


therein. -- what Eilidh Whiteford. If you're a pensioner and you do not


know what currency your pension will be in after Scotland leads UK...


What about that point? It is not just currency, pensions are


protected. We do not know what inflation would be in an independent


Scotland, whether it would be higher or more than the UK. We do not know


what we jamming rises would be like. -- wages rises. We do not know what


would be like in the UK. You would need a crystal ball to predict it.


It is being alarmist about prospect rather being honest. At the moment,


Scotland are spending less as a proportion of both those revenues


and GDP on pensions and because of that we are in a better position to


afford pensions than the rest of the UK. But you accept the other greater


proportion and will continue to have a greater proportion of elderly


people, therefore that will change quite quickly? That equation will


change over time. There are challenges for every country in the


western world are challenges for every country in the Western world


in changing demographics. But the real question is how we boost our


working age population to address that challenge and let's not just


sit on our hands and assume that we will not do anything to address


those problems. We address that in a little bit. Gregg McClymont, Eilidh


Whiteford as a point. Every country in the world has issues about how it


finances pensions. The issues facing an independent Scotland, there could


be problems and issues, but the no different from anyone else.


Professor David Bell, you quoted on another matter, as pointed out


amongst others that Scotland will face greater challenges in filling


that population age gap. -- working age gap. That might need to be


something we will have a discussion about and we have not had that so


far. More widely, she talks about the challenges the UK faces, but it


isn't -- is it not the case the UK has always paid its pensions infill


and in time? If 72% of pensioners are worried about the prospect of


their pensions, does the fault lies with pensioners? Are they wrong to


be worried? Pensioners have had a lot of alarmist stories that


Scotland cannot pay pensions and that is simply not true. Scotland is


in a better position than the rest of the UK to pay pensions because we


have higher levels of employment in Scotland. We also have more life


expectancy, so pensions are more affordable. That will not change


with independence. Eilidh Whiteford, this issue of cross-border pensions,


that worries a lot of people. Under European Union rules, if you're part


of a private company's pension scheme are part of it in England and


part of it in Scotland, it will have to be fully funded if we become


independent. You heard earlier the claims that could be a serious


problem. It is an issue that affects not state pension is an issue that


affects not state pension us but people in occupational pensions in


the private sector. Clearly, we need to look at what is happening in


other parts of the European Union will this has been the case, to look


at how to sort it out. Indeed, the UK Government has worked with the


Republic of Ireland's Government to address this issue and did so in


2005. The new directive is very clear that it is possible that


existing recovery arrangements can be used. But the fundamental issue


is if your company's pension scheme is underfunded, it does not matter


what your constitutional position is. The underlying problem is still


there. If we want to be the heads in the sand about that, that is not


sure, but actually, we have an opportunity to make sure these


schemes are properly funded. Gregg McClymont, what about that point?


The issues she is highlighting is that there are problems with


cross-border pensions and there is this European Union directive. The


British Government gave a three-year grace period for this to be sorted


out. We not really in a different from anyone else. But the problem is


created by creating a border, that is why it is a cross-border issue


between Scotland and the rest of the UK. If it can be solved in the UK


and the rest of the European Union, as Tim acted as said, it can be


solved in the case of Ireland, why should Scotland be so unique? -- as


Eilidh Whiteford said. They have not met the regulations with


cross-border funding. It has not been solved with the Republic of


Ireland. There are enormous amounts of schemes. The total deficit of


private sector pension schemes that were beyond these rules is more than


?200 billion in the UK. As a number of bodies have said repeatedly, that


is a huge problem. How are companies meant to realise those deficits in


three years? Most schemes are running 10-15 year recovery periods.


Presumably, Eilidh Whiteford, do you have proposals to extend three years


to ten or 15 years? We have. We have proposed that ourselves and the UK


Government sit down and work out whether those existing recovery


plans are feasible. That has happened in the past with other


places. Particularly in Ireland, they have been allowed to work to


existing recovery plans. They have not been limited in that way by the


European directive. There is no reason that should not happen in


Scotland. Let's not forget the fundamental issue is the Fonda, --


underfunding of those schemes. Pure assertion. Thank you both indeed. It


has been a busy week in a referendum campaign. Let's look at the week in


60 seconds. The head of NATO said an independent


Scotland would have to be applied to the Alliance. The Scottish


Government said it would be in other member states interests to the


membership. Sir Ian Wood said the Scottish Government's North Sea oil


forecasts are 60% too high. The first master said there was a


wealth of contrasting expert opinion. Both sides took to the


airwaves to debate the future of broadcasting. Labour said a yes vote


could devastate the industry. But there were claims a new Scottish


Broadcasting Service would reinvigorate. There was a spat over


civil servants. A Whitehall department advised staff to vote nor


was the Scottish Health Secretary was criticised for writing to


reassure NHS staff about pensions postindependence. And it was


announced that more than 1 million people have signed a declaration to


vote yes. The no camp claim it still speaks for the majority of Scots.


So, as the referendum campaign enters its final stretch,


neither side is wanting for advice from outside sources.


One man who used to be on the inside is Alex Salmond's former head of


policy, Alex Bell, who joins me now. You have just written a book. You


saying you were taken on by the Scottish Government because the


British government were interested in proposals about people max. There


were attempts and off the there could conversations about what devo


max would look like. My point in saying that in the book was to say


the UK government knew what a evil Max package would look like. --


default. -- devo max. It was in 2010, signals had been made that


they may be open to some kind of wider discussion. Actually the


Scottish Government first preference was for some kind of devo max


settlement. It was to be something that met the needs of the people.


The Tory government where receptive to that. What would have


subsequently happened, had the talks got any rare, which they didn't, I


do not know. They were certainly of an open mind and constructive mind.


If I were Alex Salmond I would not be grateful because you came out and


supported independence and told us among other things that Trident


would stay and it should so that Scotland were seen as responsible.


You tell us a currency union would mean Scotland was not really


independent and most of your ideas about independence do not need


independence if only the UK government would implement some of


them. What struck me then and strikes me now is a conspicuous lack


of humility by the political classes of both sides. That humility and


minds to the fact we had gone through a number of crises,


financial, environmental, we need more complex city and nuance than


simply saying you are right, you are wrong, you are a liar. I think


everyone is inclined to say they speak for the majority but I speak


for the point of view that says we need the powers to transform our


society. I would have guessed -- settled at devo max. The entire time


I was working for Alex Salmond that would have been a point of view I


would have looked. I am not an out and out Nationalist but I am an out


and out yes person. That is the only option on the table. If I wear Ed


Malabar and I would be thinking I quite like that but there is little


in your boot Ed Miliband would disagree with. -- eight Miliband. --


aid Miliband. What Scotland needs is a Labour Party with a spine. We need


a socially progressive society which uses its funds to benefit people.


There is no reason Ed Miliband and the Labour Party should advocate


that. There is no reason for that idea to have got out with party


bounds. You raise the issue of, if there is a yes vote what is it that


the Scottish Government has a mandate to negotiate. You point out


there will be a currency union, it will be brilliant but other times


you saying you are not voting for the SMP but for an independent


Scotland. There would be a mandate to negotiate for independence which


was agreed between Edinburgh and the global community. The interesting


point is that it is not entirely clear who would do that negotiation


for the UK. It does not seem David has a mandate at all. It seems a


broadband negotiating team are addressing the idea it is not the


national idea. You are arguing for a yes vote based on a prospectus that


you outline which no political party in Scotland has the slightest


intention of implementing. If you want the kind of policies that a


properly brought party should be delivering, they cannot deliver that


in the UK as it stands. The only way to get that is by taking control


closer to home. Your prospectuses for the Scottish Labour Party? They


are welcome to take it after a yes vote and can run on that mandate


next time. policy, Alex Bell, who joins me now.


You're watching Sunday Politics Scotland. Let's cross now for the


news with Andrew Kerr. Good afternoon. Both sides in the


independence referendum campaign are A former moderator of the General


Assembly of the Church of Scotland has announced he's supporting the


Yes campaign along with more than 30 other kirk ministers. The


Very Reverend Dr Andrew McLellan said


independence was a "once in a lifetime opportunity to remove


Trident". The issue was debated at the Kirk's Assembly. However, Better


Together, say people of all faiths and none are saying "no thanks" to


independence because of the "risk and uncertainty" that comes with


Over 100 people have gathered in Shetland to remember the


four who died in last year's helicopter crash off Sumburgh


Airport. A short service was held at the Sumburgh memorial last night. A


new plaque was dedicated to the victims, and a number of survivors


made the journey to the islands for the service. Later, two wreaths were


laid at sea at the site of the crash. The event was also marked by


a helicopter fly past. Let's take a look at the weather


with Sarah. It should stay largely dry and we


have a law of bright weather across the board. We could still see a few


showers across the far North Highlands. For most of us, staying


dry. We will see a fair amount of Clyde pushing in from the South


West, turning the sunshine he's a. That is it. Now back to Gordon.


with Sarah. I'm joined now by Ian Blackford,


former SNP Treasurer, and businessman, and by Raymond


Robertson, former Conservative MP for Aberdeen South.


Let's start on pensions. Surely we can have sympathy for the public. It


is difficult enough to understand pensions without having to worry


about if there is an independent Scotland. People will be safe and


secure in an independent Scotland, pensions will continue to be paid.


The threat has come to the pension funds from Gordon Brown and the


attack on pensions 20 years ago. What we do is for the Scottish


economy to increase certainty for pensions. Do you buy that? It is not


helped when John Swinney tells the Scottish Cabinet confidentially


there will be an independent Scotland problem with pensions. It


is not just state pensions, there are public sector pension funds?


That is what John Swinney told the Scottish Cabinet. The health


secretary said health pensions will be even higher in an independent


Scotland, they are creating chaos, causing people to be genuinely


concerned as to the future. You are right, it is not just the state


pension. If you work for the NHS in Scotland there is an NHS pension but


it is not funded, it is being paid out of taxation. That is true


whether talking about an independent Scotland or the rest of the UK. If


you are working for the NHS in Scotland and you are thinking about


your NHS pension, you are doing the same position as people concerned


about the state pension? That is not the case. Your entitlement will


remain whether or not Scotland is independent. The real issue is that


Westminster are raising the retirement age throughout the UK


when the life expectancy in Scotland is considerably lower. We want to


make sure we have a comfortable retirement. The real issue here is


if you take the FTSE 100, it is only one company that has a defined


pensions scheme. That is not the fault of the SNP or the government.


It is the fault of Westminster. Coming up tomorrow is the debate


between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond, I am not sure you are any


more of an Alistair Darling fan than you are an Alex Salmond fan but what


do you think each of them has to do? Alex Salmond and the yes campaign


will somehow have it in them to accept they have introduced an


nastiness and intolerance to Scottish politics in the last few


months which is unhelpful and I hope the First Minister concedes you can


indeed be a proud and passionate Scot and be voting no. I think the


intolerance and nastiness does not help Scotland and the healing


process that must happen the day after the referendum. Presumably the


chapter that he considered Alex Salmond did not do that well last


time, he will almost certainly do better this time. I think he will


come out fighting tomorrow. He will give a positive vision as to what an


independent Scotland will look like. We have to focus on the positive. At


the same kind, there are questions Alistair Darling will have to answer


tomorrow. These are challenges for maintaining a national health


service free at the point of need. Whether or not we want to protect


the ethos of a public national health service in an independent


Scotland, those are the choices the people of Scotland face. If you are


Alistair Darling, what do you do tomorrow? You know Alex Salmond will


probably be more impressive than he seemed last time. How do you prepare


for that? Alistair Darling has to keep on at the central questions of


this referendum campaign. At the top is the currency. If he bangs on


about the currency again he will be seen as a one trick pony. It is


about getting Alex Salmond to join the rest of us in the deal Scotland.


With a yes vote we all know there will be no sheared sterling, we know


that and we need Alistair -- Alex Salmond to admit this. It is the


simple answer, we will continue to use the pound. The currency


commission have raised a number of alternatives that would see us still


continue to use the pound. Come what May, an independent Scotland will be


using the pound. for Aberdeen South.


And you can watch the First Minister Alex Salmond and Better Together


leader Alistair Darling go head-to-head on the BBC tomorrow


evening. That's on BBC 1 Scotland on Monday night at 8 o'clock.


That's all from the us this week. I'll be back at the same time next


week. Until then, goodbye.


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