Blue Monday

chairman-of-the-treasury-select-committee-john-mcfallYesterday was supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. Christmas and New Year are over. New Year resolutions have faded. The credit card bills begin to arrive and January’s salary is still a couple of weeks’ away. The hours of daylight have been short for many weeks and we lack vitamin D from the sunshine to make us feel better.

Up at Stormont, it was definitely a “Presbyterian Blue Monday”. The Treasury Select Committee came to investigate the situation with regard to the Presbyterian Mutual Society and there were Presbyterians everywhere, most of them savers with the PMS. Some came feeling blue because of the failure to find a resolution to the PMS crisis, and left, no less true-blue Presbyterians, but feeling a slightly warmer colour because of what they heard.

I was there leading the delegation from PCI. Some people thought that because we met Mr McFall in private we were engaged in some clandestine conspiracy, not wishing to publish our comments or our answers to key questions. The simple fact was that the church had not been scheduled to meet the committee, and it was only after we requested the opportunity to meet with them that we were given a slot with Mr McFall at the very beginning of the day before the rest of the Select Committee arrived. I published our memo to the committee on this blog for everyone to see.

The Treasury Select Committee asked some hard and good questions. The effect of that was to re-focus and re-energise the efforts we have made to get the situation resolved, and for that we are very thankful. Much of the discussion was taken up with the question as to how this crisis was allowed to develop, and the failures of the registration and regulation process. The Committee report will make for interesting reading.

All through this crisis, however, we have sought to stay focused on the resolution of the problem. When other financial institutions in the UK got into trouble, they were bailed out without any inquiry into the cause of their collapse and without regard to the culpability of the institution. What became clear yesterday was that no one is really taking ownership of the drive towards a resolution, and, as John McFall said, the “pass the parcel” game needs to stop and a new political will needs to be found. We hope that the visit of the committee will help create that will and purpose.

For many months now, we have been telling the Government what the solution is to this crisis, and the speed of its response has been glacial. If it doesn’t act decisively and act soon, the smaller savers will continue to suffer and will be discriminated against. An unintended consequence of Administration is that the PMS has now been “demutualised” and a distinction is now made between loans and shares, so that in any future distribution of income, the larger savers are likely to benefit at the expense of the smaller savers. This will be grossly unfair and will have a hugely divisive outcome for Presbyterian congregations. We made this point to the Government many months ago, and called on them to take immediate action to pre-empt these problems. Sadly, they have not taken us seriously nor have they acted appropriately.

The Government, and the Treasury in particular, needs to be proactive in seeking a partnership with a financial institution, so that the PMS can be absorbed into that larger financial institution. We said this is in early August last year. So again we make our plea: please make this solution work! Right now, PMS savers are the only group in the UK to have been treated differently. This is unfair and unjust. Thank you, Mr McFall and your Committee, for listening and understanding our plight. May your report not fall on deaf ears.

11 Replies to “Blue Monday”

  1. DEAR STAFFORD, Exactly which part of EXCLUSIVLY PRESBYTERIAN is it, that you, and your devoutly religous collegues at church house, can not understand. The totally unwanted EXCLUSIVLY PRESBYTERIAN PARCEL,which you and your collegues have been shamefully trying to disown and offload, will continue to haunt the PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH,until it is passed back and more importantly humbly accepted back,at PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH HOUSE WHERE IT BELONGS. lets pray that GOD WILL GIVE the WHOLE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH,the sincere Christian Faith and guidance, to level This EXCLUSIVLY PRESBYTERIAN MOUNTAIN.

  2. Well Stafford, Please try to remember what the BIBLE says,about WHITE-WASHED PILLARS IN LONG FLOWING ROBES. I stand over every word of my comment. I totally agree with you it was not a very PRESBYTERIAN, COMMENT,but it was a very truthfull one. As a mere constantly stumbling christian, I CHALLANGE YOU to contest this truth.I will confidently face you, confront you and totally defeat you, WITH JESUS CHRIST AS MY STRENGTH AND GUIDE,before any civil or religious court of YOUR CHOICE. As for not liking my aggressive CHRISTIAN REPLIES,to your long winded RELIGOUS BLOGS,i make no appology,for confronting what i consider to be religous dogma with the truth. I FURTHER CHALLANGE YOU,to have the moral and spiritual courage,to ENTER MY COMMENTS AND YOUR REPLIES.

  3. Blaming PCI or Church House staff for the demise of the PMS is like blaming the people of Haiti for the earthquake. Many bigger and stronger financial institutions collapsed under the global financial earthquake, but no one stood around blaming those buildings because they hadn’t been built of stronger materials. The Government came to their aid immediately and rescued them. But now they stand around the little shack of the PMS and say that it should have been built of stronger materials and had better foundations, and refuse to help the people dying under the rubble. It’s not a time for the debating the lack of quality of the building materials or the poor skills of the builders; it’s a time for rescuing people who are in desperate need. Presbyterians who point fingers at other presbyterians are only holding up the rescue effort. Every other institution has been rescued at huge cost to the taxpayer. Why are PMS savers the only ones whose cries are being ignored?

  4. #2 – “I will confidently face you, confront you and totally defeat you”

    Not really the words of a ‘stumbling Christian’, Charlie? This mix of false humility and righteous indignation is not only toxic, but obviously not good for your blood pressure – or CAPS key for that matter!

  5. @Stephen
    YES STEPHEN, Your comment is totally fair and correct.I stand guilty as charged.My last comment was totally and inexcusably unchristian.I totally and unreservably apologise to Stafford,as well as to anyone else who may have been offended by my illtempered out burst. The only, yet totally inadequate excuse i can offer is,that it was an immediate illtempered knee-jerk reaction,to a clandestine message secretly logged onto my computer by stafford via his notorious I pod.This message was in relation to my comment dated the 22nd,which at that time he was refusing publish. The fact that he was using his secretive I pod,instead of his blogg immediatly put me on my guard. I found Staffords clandestine message to be in my opinion,totally offensive and totally unchristian,which is why I challanged him to publish my comment of the 22nd january, and his clandistine reply. Stafford then published my comment of the 22nd,he did not however publish his clandestine reply,yet he went on to publish my reply to his clandestine message.
    Again i unreservably apoligise for any offence caused to anyone.
    ,

  6. @Stephen
    OF COURSE YOUR RIGHT STEPHEN, But to be honest it matters not a jot, to the poor abandoned INNOCENT VICTIMS of the Presbyterian mutual collapse,wether i am ahead,behind,or not even there.They are still left standing alone out in the cold,with the same shamefully damming placard,that they were left to carry alone outside the Presbyterian general assembly last summer,P.M.S, SAVERS BETRAYED BY CHURCH AND STATE.

  7. @steve
    WELL STEVE, Im just a still struggling to believe christian,Ex British Soldier,and Ex Belfast Fireman ,who served during the height of the IRA,bombing campaign. Please let me know if you want to meet.

  8. While some of the comments here have been – strange – for a blog between brothers, brothers do sometimes fall out and say things they shouldn’t – I have three I know but maybe we should look at little at some other issues raised at Stormont, the following transcript has been posted in relation to who was regulating the PMS – its well worth a read – the clear “not us gov” clear pass the parcel

    http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/there-was-a-chinese-wall-and-people-were-quite-happy-with-it/

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