CALLS for the Government to review the miners’ pension scheme have been backed in the House of Commons after claims former pitmen are being denied a fair share of the profits.

The motion, proposed by Easington MP Grahame Morris, was approved, but is not legally binding.

Despite winning the approval of members in the chamber earlier in the week, ministers are expected to simply ignore the decision.

Mr Morris, a former miner, said: “The importance of coal may have declined, but our gratitude to the miners should never wane and we owe them a debt of honour.

“Miners and their widows deserve better than poverty pensions.”

He was calling for a Government review of the Mineworkers Pension Scheme, after more than 100,000 people signed a petition protesting against the current arrangements.

After the privatisation of the coal industry in 1994, the UK Government agreed to guarantee that the miners’ pensions would not fall in cash terms, in exchange for a 50/50 share of any surpluses.

The aim was to safeguard the income of former miners.

While the Government has so far collected £4.4bn as a result of the agreement, the average payment from the scheme is just £84 a week.

Mr Morris and others are arguing that the current 50/50 split is unfair.

Helen Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland, said: “Mineworkers did difficult and dangerous work.

“They built the wealth of this country for over 150 years, and we owe them a huge debt.”

The call for a review was approved by the House of Commons after the Government declined to oppose it.

This meant there was no formal vote of MPs.

Business Minister Andrew Stephenson said the Government would not be holding a review of the split.

He said: “In this case, the honest answer is that the current position, whereby the Government guarantee arrangements and split the surpluses, is a fair settlement.

“It is reflected in the fact that successive Governments of all political persuasions have retained the split currently in place.”

MPs asked for an official ruling on whether the Government was obliged to accept the Commons call for a review of the 50:50 split.

Speaker John Bercow said it was not.

He said: “The situation is that the only votes that bind in this place are votes on legislation and votes on taxation.

“This vote does not bind.

“It is an expression of the will of the House.”