Orders of the Day
Peter Hain (Secretary of State, Wales Office; Neath, Labour)
Obviously if an individual was in a position where pension credit would be forthcoming a short time before retirement—the default position, as it were—it would not be in their interests to contribute to a personal account, and they would sign the form to opt out. That is just common sense. However, what I do not understand about the Opposition's line of attack is this. The hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell is talking about a situation 25, 30 or 40 years ahead, but what is he saying? He is saying, in effect, that we should simply just leave it to the taxpayer, and start a scare almost—that is what the Opposition are doing with all this noise—and thereby discourage people on low incomes from contributing. Those people will then end up in a worse situation and the taxpayer will have to bail them out, unfunded and at an unpredictable level.
The hon. Gentleman also does not take into account the proposals on trivial commutation—that is, to switch some of the contributions into a lump sum of potentially £16,000, an amount that could be kept under review. In other words, by all means let us debate the detail, but let us not use that as an excuse to derail the progress of the Bill.