Nigel Mills MP, who sits on the DWP’s Pension Select committee is so committed to his task that he chose to turn up to a DWP committee meeting as a part of the recent pensions debate. He used the time to play Candy Crush Saga, which was filmed and the film published by the Sun.
If you sign up to the Sun you can watch him playing live! But like Nigel , you may have better things to do , so you can read the detail in the Guardian here.
Is this a sadder reflection on the state of the pension debate or on Mr Mills?
Those of us who work in pensions are rather keen to get policy right and have a right to be disappointed when someone appointed to govern our pensions chooses to play a silly game on a hand-held device rather than focus on what is being debated.
But having read the Hansard accounts on a recent debate in the House, I am not that surprised, there were a total of 33 new clauses and 72 amendments tabled in one go
The Pension Minister ,Steve Webb, had to spend most of his speech defending the number of amendments from “time-challenged” Conservatives. We now know what at least one of the MPs was spending his time on (have a read -it’s all on the link).
I wrote last month about former Treasury Secretary, Mark Hoban’s view that the pension industry should look to gaming for ideas on how to engage, educate and empower members, perhaps this was what Nigel had in mind. As XTC sang
We’re only making plans for Nigel, Nigel just needs a helping hand!
MPs lose the right to criticise those in pensions when they are caught playing Candy Crush during pension debates. Having given of our time to help shape the legislative amendments to the Pension Schemes Bill, we have every right to feel let down when members of our own select committee do not pay attention to the nitty-gritty.
If we want a really dumbed down pension system, we can have compulsion and the kind of pension taxes people get in Australia. But instead we have a more challenging system that gives people pension freedoms.
If the Guardian report is to be believed, it was these very freedoms (on which George Osborne will be campaigning) that Nigel Mills was supposed to be debating.
These freedoms do not come cheap. They require the expense of time and effort. That goes for the people benefiting from them, the people managing them and the people governing them.
Most of us spend many hours doing deeply boring work, it is what we are paid for. If I was found in a meeting playing Candy Crush Saga, I would expect to be on disciplinary, Nigel Mills will probably get away with nothing more than a ribbing.
I could discuss with Nigel Mills why he preferred Candy Crush Saga to focussing on his job in hand this Wednesday when we appear on the same panel at a Prospect Debate on “the Future of UK pensions”.
But I’ll resist the temptation, I’d prefer to discuss the agenda (that can be found on the link above). After all, it’s what I’m paid to do.