PMS Update

the-presbyterian-mutual-societyI am contacted regularly by savers in the Presbyterian Mutual Society seeking an update on developments in this long-running saga. As I reported to the General Assembly, at the beginning of June, we had a very encouraging meeting with the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, and the Minister of State, Hugo Swire. They assured us that the PMS crisis would receive their full attention, and the commitments made by Mr Cameron prior to the general election would be honoured.

While the attention of the Treasury has been focused on the recent budget, we are hopeful that, now it has been delivered, some attention will be given by Treasury ministers and officials to the PMS situation. A recent letter from Nigel Tonks, a senior official in HMT, confirms that the PMS case is under consideration. It seems that ministers have received considerable correspondence on this issue, and while they cannot reply to every letter, Mr Tonks gave this assurance:

The Government is aware of the financial difficulty and distress caused to so many PMS members. The Government is committed to working with the NI Executive in an effort to find a just and fair solution to the crisis caused by PMS entry into administration. A range of options is being considered in line with this commitment.

Anxious savers are eager to receive some reassurance. These three sentences confirm that PMS savers have not been forgotten. We will continue to watch and wait in the hope that soon we will get a resolution.

One Reply to “PMS Update”

  1. Dear Doctor Carson
    As a saver in PMS, may I say your continued interest in this serious issue is appreciated. But the new government’s words do not indicate even an inch of progress beyond what we were told about a year ago by the Brown government. He would establish a task force to deal with the problem. Well, the task force accomplished nothing. We were told there were options that would be investigated. The top priority would be to get a bank to take over the PMS. Didn’t happen. Now the new government tells us its top priority is to get a bank to take over the PMS. Deja vu. Nothing, Dr. Carson, has changed. We have been given not one scintilla of evidence to suggest that a bank might be more interested now than it was one year ago. So yes, let’s be hopeful, but let’s see some practical evidence—new, imaginative evidence—to suggest our hope is not just baseless dreaming.
    Until then, may I suggest something practical which the church can do—something you can perhaps pass on quickly to the new moderator:
    The administrator, Mr. Boyd, is bound by court order to establish a…well, let’s call it a consultancy group (dear knows, he’s not bound to take advice from it).
    We do know Mr. Boyd wants representation from four specific segments of savers. But how is this group to be established? There are thousands of us out here with no idea of how to round up people—either prospective nominees or prospective voters—within our respective groups, because we don’t know who those people are. Right? Right. We never did know. Right?
    But the church is able to contact them, with a general appeal from the pulpits. I plead with you to rapidly use your good offices, and your knowledge of our situation, to urge Dr. Hamilton: The minister of each congregation should appeal (from the pulpit and via immediate church-door pamphleting or July newsletters) to all PMS shareholders within the congregation to meet at each church hall within the coming month to determine how to nominate a representative within each shareholding segment. Better yet, why not propose a process which can be common to all congregations?
    Mr. Boyd has imposed a deadline of August, knowing full well that many people—including ministers—are absent, and when many congregations’ organisational bodies are at a low-function state. He seems to have done nothing, since he received the court order last winter, to address this specific problem of organising the nomination process . That has left some of us wondering whether he is somewhat cynical about the court order, and whether he views the distress of savers with the compassion and practical assistance that is warranted.
    I realise the above proposal comes at the 11th hour, but perhaps you or the PCI have something better to suggest, given the short notice at hand. If so, I know the savers would be glad to hear about it.
    With respect,
    Stephen Riley (First Templepatrick).

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