By Martin Kelly
UK Treasury Minister Danny Alexander has been left red-faced after it emerged EU regulations, which he claimed would lead to costly pension barriers in an independent Scotland, were set to be scrapped.
In a speech given by the UK Treasury minister on Friday, the Lib Dem MP said a Yes vote would lead to pension costs rising in an independent Scotland.

He said: “Creating an international border would reduce financial firms’ ability to spread risk and drive up the cost of financial products like pensions.”

The Lib DEm MP claimed existing EU rules would result in a newly independent Scotland having to set up a costly Pension Protection Fund and added: “In fact, if Scotland were part of the EU, they would have to set up such a Fund.”

However in a blow to Mr Alexander, it has emerged that days before he gave his speech the EU had already signalled its intention to remove cross-border barriers to operating pension plans across different EU member states.

This Spring the European Cimmission is expected to announce an overhaul of the EU’s Pensions Directive to remove the requirement that defined benefit pension plans must be ‘fully funded at all times’ if they operate in more than one EU Member State.  The change would remove one of the key planks in the arguments put forward by opponents of Scottish independence.

Commenting on Mr Alexander’s remarks on pensions, a spokesperson for Finance Secretary John Swinney accused the Lib Dem MP of having been caught making claims that he already knew were baseless.
“Danny Alexander has been caught red-handed. He has been making claims about pensions in full knowledge that the EU is on the point of resolving the issue of cross-border pensions.”, the spokesman said.
He added: “To scaremonger about people’s pensions is bad enough – to do it while knowing that the issue is being addressed and that the claims he is making have no substance is far, far worse.
“Mr Alexander has a track record of making claims and pledges which don’t stand up to scrutiny, and these latest comments show that people in Scotland can’t trust a word he says on the referendum.”
The claims from Mr Alexander follow similar accusations levelled by opponents of independence over the issue of pension provision in an independent Scotland.

Last year Better Together head Alistair Darling said the current state pension would be under threat in an independent Scotland.

He said: “Carrying this cost is a bigger problem for Scotland than for the rest of the UK because of the age structure of our population.  Within the union, however, that risk is pooled with the whole country, and will not have to be borne purely out of Scottish resources.

“That is something now accepted by both sides of the independence argument.   That’s a positive benefit of the union for Scotland.  Conversely separating from the union would diminish our long-term financial security.”

However the claim was blown apart when it emerged the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had already confirmed that UK pensions will continue to be paid in full to Scots, even if Scotland becomes independent.

The news was revealed by First Minister Alex Salmond last September after a constituent wrote to the DWP asking what would happen in the event of independence.

In an official reply, a DWP official wrote: “If Scotland does become independent, this will have no effect on your state pension – you will continue to receive it just as you do at present.”

Speaking during First Minister’s Questions at the time, Mr Salmond slammed what he said was opposition scaremongering over the pension arrangements of an independent Scotland.

“Given that the pensions service, the agency of the UK government, is sending to my constituents in Aberdeenshire such definitive information, it ill-behoves Labour and Tory scaremongerers who come to this chamber with a scaremongering agenda.”


2014-03-08 11:55

Danny reminds me of a newspaper billboard. Somebody scrawls .a headline with a marker pen and it screams the same thing all day long until somebody scrawls in a new headline.
call me dave
2014-03-08 12:08

Excellent news.

Gordon Brown will also have to review his notes before going on his whistle stop tour of Scotland in front of invited audiences. His hobby is scaring pensioners I understand.

Have I seen this in the paper based MSM yet ‘shurley shome mischtake’, an oversight perhaps.

Another little brick falls out of the rotten foundations of ‘better together’.

Enjoyed Dougie the Dug!

Nice article here from Mr Roy
2014-03-08 13:19

Don’t know about nice, it made me wretch. The damnable credit crunch knocked my business sideways, then RBS doubled up the blow with condemnation following the collapse in turnover which their bloody nonsense had caused in the first place. There was nobody hanging around to hand me a fat bail out.
Now these fat cats want to lecture us on the risks independence poses to their welfare? Bring it on say I. This damned Union and it’s Tory monsters destroyed our Coal industry, shut down Ravenscraig, slaughtered our fishing fleet, stabbed Rosyth in the eye, disposed of our regiments, and sites its nuclear filth near the families it keeps in direst poverty. It promises to beggar our old and frail, victimise the weak, and steal more of our resources behind a cloak of deceit it has maintained my entire life long with it’s vile BBC puppets.
Go ahead Mr Alexander. Lie to me some more. I’m all ears.

Meaban Beag
2014-03-08 12:28

At their conference today he claims the credit for his party for all the good things which have flowed from tory government. I think we know what do do with that information. Bye bye Danny
Auld Rock
2014-03-08 13:19

Better together is like a house built of cards. A while back it was to be higher roaming charges if we had stupidity of voting ‘YES’. This the day before the EU did away with them. There was also Barusso’s assertion that we would be thrown out of the EU, again dismissed by EU. Now the Wee Boy doing someone else’s dirty work and again the EU announces that it’s on the cusp of changing these rules to extend pension provision across borders.

Now the thing about all of these ‘myths’ is that the EU never does anything spontaneously, there is always a long period of prior consultation so the UK Government would have been fully aware. Yet they prefer to peddle the lie. Their motto being,”Never let a lie get in the way of a good SCARE story.”

Auld Rock
2014-03-08 13:42

With you all the way breeks. No 40% rule in September’s vote and the whole of Scotland to decide it’s fate, in stead of a self serving clique. And sites such as this and Wings doing sterling work circumventing the inevitable fact that this story has barely rippled the surface of our traditional news outlets. Roll on to the vote and a resounding YES which finally rids us of the pernicious British establishment.
2014-03-08 14:02

Danny Alexander defends use of Portugese cleaner and attacks Tory ‘poison’ on immigration

I wonder what rate he pays her,can we find out.
2014-03-08 17:11

Can he no clean for himself?
2014-03-08 18:35

Oh Danny boy the dole the dole is calling and Gordon to can join you in that queue. But come ye back as candidates in FREE Scotland no votes you’ll get to join us in our quest.
2014-03-09 06:06

Id like to see your comment on billboards over Scotland ,
powerful message thank you.
call me dave
2014-03-09 17:18

Snippet from Sunday Herald.
Ian MacWhirter.

Well, here’s a message to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury: the currency decision, Mr Alexander, will never be final, because it is not in the UK Government’s gift to make it. The pound is common property of the UK, not London’s toy balloon.

As for the threat on cross-border pension schemes – the EU is on the point of announcing that it wants to see a lot more of them. His pensions warning was just another nasty little scare, like mortgage rates, Europe, food prices. And don’t think this scolding, contemptuous tone from the London financial establishment will somehow disappear if Scots obediently vote No. We’ve learned a lot in the past few weeks about power and how it is distributed. The campaign has revealed the true face of the Union. They may win the referendum, but they’ve lost Scotland.

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