A couple of hours to go before the Speaker’s statement. Michael Martin will have an open mike to salvage his reputation and subdue the growing parliamentary insurrection. It should be a dramatic afternoon. The stakes are so high you could almost feel sorry for him. But any of you concerned about his well-being should remember that the Speaker, should he leave, will benefit from one magnificent golden parachute.
Martin will be able to claim his pension as soon as he steps down. And what a marvellous pension it is. He will receive half his annual salary as Speaker, which amounts to about £39,000 a year. This supplements his MPs pension, which will be up to £39,000 a year. It is guaranteed by the government and index linked, so nothing will threaten his income. The pot, in total, is worth about £1.5m. (Thanks again to John Ralfe for crunching the numbers.)
This would be small beer to Sir Fred Goodwin. But there is no doubt it is a splendid parting gift, even by public sector standards. Don’t forget the pension when Martin’s allies raise the “class war” banner in the Speaker’s defence.
Gordon Brown recently gave up his right to claim a similar pension for prime ministers. But, for some reason, the Speaker was permitted to retain his. Who knows whether it has been brought up while Brown and Martin spoke about the expenses mess. But it would sure make it easier for Brown to let Martin know that his time was up.