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Has the Minister discussed with the Council of Civil Service Unions the remarks made by the Prime Minister, which were published at the weekend, about index-linked pensions? Will he assure the House that those remarks do not pre-empt the findings of the Scott inquiry into index-linked pensions, as that would make the inquiry a waste of public funds and be an insult to those taking part in it? Can he assure retired public service pensioners that their pensions will not be affected? Is he aware that they planned their retirement on the basis of their pensions? Even if a change is made in pensions for existing servants of the Crown, will he assure us that that will not affect those who have already retired?
Does my right hon. Friend agree that this might be a good moment to get shot of the whole ludicrous principle of comparability in the negotiation of public sector wages, including the Civil Service, for good and for all?
Will the Minister confirm that the important matter of index-linked pensions affects not only 385,000 dependants and retired civil servants but more than 1½ million public service dependants and retired workers, including Health Service workers, policemen, firemen, the Armed Services and so on? Does he not feel that the remarks being made by the Prime Minister and by others of his colleagues can only be unsettling, not only to existing workers but especially to retired people? Is it not time that we stopped sabre-rattling and at least reassured retired people?