On Air Night Flight | Midnight - 5:00am

John Houghton issues pension statement


North Douglas MHK John Houghton has issued a statement following the news he's the only MHK not paying into the Tynwald Members Pension Scheme.


It follows weeks of questioning by Manx Radio and Isle of Man Newspapers.


Earlier this month, all 24 MHKs told Manx Radio they were paying into the scheme - but Treasury revealed only 23 were doing so.


This morning, after he was named, Mr Houghton released the following:

"On Tuesday 9th December 2014 I issued Mr Adrian Darbyshire a written authority for disclosure of my contributions which he was able to gain directly from the Treasury.


"At 8.15am today, Wednesday 10th December 2014 I received a telephone call from Malcolm Couch, the Chief Financial Officer and was informed for the FIRST TIME that no such contributions were being deducted from my salary.  I was shocked and horrified to learn of this.  Sometime in April 2012 following the debate into contributions, I duly completed the application form for regular deductions from my monthly pay and submitted it to the Treasury Payroll Section.  I clearly recall that in May 2012, the following month, my pay had accordingly been reduced and so from then I was confident that I was contributing and as such I have never seen the need to subsequently revert to this matter.


"A contributing factor to this misunderstanding is, usually, due to Tynwald Members receiving the same amount of pay each month; month in and month out.  I simply do not bother to look at my monthly salary payslips and they are discarded.


"When I receive my regular bank statements my pay is, as usual, the same amount which is a private matter and it is through this process that I recall picking up on the reduced payment made in May 2012 salary.  This is the reason why I was and remained emphatically confident that I was paying my regular voluntary contributions to this day and without the need to check any further. 


"I must point out that at no time has the Treasury Pay Section contacted me to remind me that no deductions in respect of contributions were being made.  During previous discussions with other Tynwald Members on this matter it was always assumed that whoever was not paying their contributions must surely have been notified by the Treasury on more than one occasion, reminding them that they were not contributing to this voluntary arrangement.  I stress that no such contact has ever been received by me and in order for me to exonerate myself from this distressing matter, I have asked the Treasury to confirm that I have never received any reminders in relation to non-payment of contributions since the voluntary scheme began.  Had I received such a helpful reminder, I would have acted upon it immediately.  I, however, make no criticism of the loyal and dedicated staff working in the Payroll Section, who are known to operate with integrity.


"In summary therefore I submitted my form in April 2012 to the Treasury and from that date onwards I was confident that deductions were being taken.  I have never been informed otherwise since that time and I cannot be made responsible for a lost or misplaced form.  I will be pleased to rectify the matter as I fully support the Tynwald Members submitting voluntary contributions to their pension scheme.


"I will ask the Treasury to clarify that no such reminders have been sent and will forward the correspondence to the media in order to protect my integrity which is the best I can do.  It is most regrettable that such an embarrassing situation has arisen in these circumstances, which has, indeed, quite unnecessarily put the integrity of all members under scrutiny."


More from Isle of Man News