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Letter: Nuclear pension surplus

SO Derek Smart, personnel director of the state-owned Nuclear Electric and incidentally the company-appointed chairman of the pension trustees, thinks 'it would be tempting to use every single penny of the pension surplus to help the company's position' ('State firm siphons pension fund', 23 January). Certainly, excepting those who benefited from the removal of the National Insurance 'modification' at a cost of pounds 0.4m, Nuclear Electric ensured that none of the pounds 114m pension surplus would be used directly to help its pensioners. But the company not only has absolute power of decision regarding any actuarial pension fund surplus, it also has absolute power of amendment of the rules of the pension scheme itself.

In these circumstances, it is not surprising that the trustees feel helpless and frustrated.

Moreover, the company effectively controls the sources of information to its pensioners. It has used its in-house journal and other company publications to consistently present the company view on the pension surplus, totalling thousands of words, at the same time declining to publish at least one critical letter from a trustee. So it is not surprising that, for the majority of Nuclear Electric pensioners, your article will have been the first time they have had any inkling of the discontent of their trustees. As you say, it does bring into question the extent of the Government's commitment to defending pensioners' rights in the public sector.

It also brings into question the integrity of Nuclear Electric itself.

Aled Pugh

Nuclear Electric pensioner

Uley, Glos