BHS and Philip Green

The decline of BHS – and its manner – showed callous disregard to the company’s employees, members of its pensions fund and its loyal customers on high streets up and down the country, including here in Liverpool.

Today’s Backbench debate on BHS in the House of Commons will underline Labour’s commitment to pension reform and protecting workers who have contributed a proportion of their wages throughout their working lives to provide for themselves and their families in retirement.

With the BHS pension fund still in deficit, it cannot be maintained that Sir Philip Green deserves a knighthood for ‘services to retail.’

There are very many hard-working, responsible businesses across Britain who do everything possible to protect the pension funds of their employees. However, BHS was typical of a business culture in which too many companies extract wealth rather than create it. We need to overhaul corporate governance to put a stop to those who seek to exploit loopholes and poorly enforced regulation to satisfy their own short-term greed.

It is bewildering that Sir Philip Green should retain his knighthood for ‘services to retail,’ but the central issue here is not one man’s honour, but  the plight of tens of thousands of people who worked loyally for BHS and paid into the pension fund and now face an uncertain future.

We must have a far greater degree of transparency, underpinned by meaningful regulation and government oversight, to restore confidence in our pension industry.

I will continue to campaign for a pensions system that ensures dignity in retirement, and offers people a proper return on the contribution they make to our society.