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Time to honour the pledge

September 3rd, 2010

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The Ministerial Working Group tasked with addressing the PMS crisis is due to meet next week. After many months of waiting, we need some definite action on the pledge which Mr Cameron made. Here is the full text of the statement which we made.

The Ministerial Working Group on the PMS crisis, chaired by the Secretary of State, is expected to hold its next meeting on 8th September.

Ahead of that meeting, it is timely to remind the Working Group and call on
them to fulfil David Cameron’s pledge, that if he became Prime Minister, he
would ensure a just and fair resolution of the PMS issue.

In his pre-election address at LaMon House Mr Cameron also referred to the
former Prime Minister Gordon Brown as having “betrayed” PMS savers when he, Mr Brown, boasted that not one British saver had lost a single penny in the banking crisis but then failed to put PMS savers into the same position.

Mr Cameron re-emphasised his own pledge very eloquently when he added,
“We’re all in this together, you’ve done the right thing, and you deserve
for that to be recognised and rewarded.”

Following the general election I was greatly reassured when I met the
Secretary of State on 7th June.  As well as making clear to me that the
take-over of PMS by a larger financial institution was still a possibility
he encouraged me to quote Mr Cameron’s pledge when I addressed the Opening Night of the General Assembly that evening. I was impressed by his sincerity and by his obvious commitment to bring the PMS issue urgently to a just and satisfactory conclusion.

In calling on the Ministerial Working Group to honour the Prime Minister’s
pledge I am in no doubt that only an outcome which removes the
discriminatory treatment suffered so far by PMS savers and gives all of them
early access to 100% of their money can be regarded as just and fair.

As to the best way of obtaining this outcome the Church proposed to the
previous Westminster Government, over a year ago, the so-called Plan A which would involve the take-over of the PMS by a substantial financial
institution.

The Church, having at that time taken expert advice, was satisfied and is
still satisfied that the plan is not only feasible with Government support
but could also be implemented at considerably less cost and risk to
Government than any alternative. Regretfully, we believe it was never
seriously explored by the previous Westminister Government.

The commercial solution, or Plan A, not only delivers the desired just and
fair outcome, but makes sense for any acquiring financial institution and
the Government. It offers the obvious route to the objective of giving all
savers 100% of their savings.

However, if the Government is unable to deliver Plan A the responsibility
still remains with it to devise an alternative scheme which has the same
effect so far as all savers are concerned.

I appreciate the strenuous efforts which have been made by the NI Executive
to devise a solution. A comprehensive solution can, however, only be secured for PMS savers when the UK government engages with financial institutions at the highest level. Our national Government took full responsibility for dealing speedily and generously with all the other financial institutions which were caught up in the crisis and must do the same for PMS savers.

PMS savers have been incredibly patient. Through many meetings and
correspondence I am acutely aware of the distressing situation in which many savers find themselves.

So while I am calling on the Ministers Working Group to to reach a just and
fair resolution I am also calling on all Presbyterians to continue to pray,
especially over these next few days, that the Government will be guided
towards a just and fair solution which will speedily relieve PMS savers of
the heavy burden of stress and anxiety which they have borne so patiently
for so many months.

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