National Insurance Contributions Bill
Orders of the Day
Paul Rowen (Shadow Minister, Work & Pensions; Rochdale, Liberal Democrat)
The hon. Gentleman knows full well that 40 per cent. of all eligible pensioners do not claim pension credit, and it is costly to administer, costing far more than child tax credit. The pension consensus should therefore be to give all pensioners, regardless of who they are, what they have earned in the past or what contributions they have made—thereby including many women who take time out to have a family—a decent citizen's pension. [Interruption.] Well, the pension credit does not work. It is not being claimed. The test of the success of any benefit must be whether it is understood and claimed. Whether the Government like it or not, the reality is that pension credit is not understood or claimed as it should be.
While we have no qualms about accepting the first part of the Bill, and we applaud its simplification and redistributive elements, the second part of the Bill is inadequate, does not go far enough and does not address pensioner poverty. It is another example of a tax grab without a benefit. We are not prepared to support a Bill that does not deal with the fundamental issues, which we shall consider later in relation to the Pensions Bill, of ensuring that all pensioners have a decent and fair pension. As we have made clear, we are not against the pensions consensus, but we will not support the technical proposals in this Bill if there is a vote.