UK - Nearly half of Scottish members of parliament (MSPs) would be able to claim their pensions while still serving, under new plans being considered by the Scottish Parliament.

A consultation paper issued earlier this month by an MSP pension committee on the revision of the Scottish parliamentary pension scheme reveals an option for so-called "flexible retirement" has been brought forward.

This new early retirement plan would allow all MSPs who will be 55 or over in 2010 to draw a pension while still earning a salary and allowances.

The move would mean almost half of the current 129 MSPs would be allowed to pocket early retirement benefits and a salary at the same time.

"It was one of the questions included in the paper, because the changes in the legislation would allow for that to happen," a spokeswoman told IPE.

She stressed the ideas are being invested along other plans: "It really is just an open question at the moment, to see what views we get back".

The pension review has been conducted because of a number of legislative changes affecting all occupational pension schemes, as well as recent legislation developments concerning equality.

The Scottish Parliament believes an update is needed as the current pension arrangements for members and office holders mirror those at Westminster.

The consultation closes in January next year, while further evidence will be taken in February and March. A report is then set to be drafted in April and May.

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