When we have a rare spare moment, readers, there’s nothing we enjoy more for a bit of fun and relaxation than to fire off a few Freedom Of Information requests.
And just for some variety, last month we sent a couple to the UK Parliament – mainly on behalf of our Number One fan, Pete Wishart MP.
The answers came in this week.
We’d asked these questions:
(1) Would Scottish members of the House Of Lords who were ennobled prior to independence be disbarred (or whatever term is appropriate) from the House at the point of independence?
(2) Would retired former MPs representing Scottish constituencies, and either already in receipt of a UK Parliamentary pension or entitled to receive it in future, continue to receive/be entitled to those pensions?
(3) Would MPs who represented Scottish constituencies at the time of independence receive their UK Parliamentary pensions, at the appropriate level in accordance with their contributions to the Parliamentary pension scheme, up to the point of independence?
Two days ago we got a nicely-formatted PDF response from the Lords, under a proper Parliamentary letterhead, informing us that the answer to question (1) “would entirely depend on the terms of the independence settlement, if and when it happened.“
And tonight we got a separate reply on questions (2) and (3) from the Commons – in normal email body text, no nice pretty PDF here – saying pretty much the same thing, rather more brusquely:
“This information is not held by the House of Commons.”
So what does that tell us? It tells us that if Scotland were to become independent this year, Pete Wishart wouldn’t know if he was still going to get his £50,000-a-year MP pension or not when Scotland no longer had any Westminster MPs.
(Indeed, it’s not absolutely certain that he’d keep getting it even if he’d retired at some point before independence and was being paid it during the intervening period.)
We pass on these observations without comment, just for your information.