Social Security Harmonisation

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Security – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th November 1997.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Dr Michael Clark Dr Michael Clark Conservative, Rayleigh 12:00 am, 17th November 1997

What plans she has to move towards the harmonisation of the social security system of the UK with its European partners. [14638]

Photo of Dr Michael Clark Dr Michael Clark Conservative, Rayleigh

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall the statement made by the Minister with responsibility for pensions that there is a need to integrate an efficient social protection system throughout Europe? If there are no such plans, what did that mean? If that statement is correct, does it mean that, if pensions were integrated throughout Europe, we might have to forgo our national pension fund, which is probably larger than the rest of the pension funds of Europe put together? Or would it mean that we would have to pay more to assist countries that had not made prudent pension provision, or even both? Would the right hon. Gentleman comment?

Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Minister (Department of Social Security) (Welfare Reform)

The Government have no plans for harmonisation. That does not mean that we do not consider carefully the evolving social security agenda to discover where the British interest lies and to advance it. We are giving particular attention to three areas. First, we want to ensure that, if pensioners move between countries, they are not put at a greater disadvantage vis-a-vis their occupational pension than they would have been if they remained in their own country. Secondly, we are examining the position of migrant workers to ensure that, as they move between two countries, they do not pay taxation and social security dues in both. Thirdly, we are interested in how the single market rules will operate for the transference of pension capital. As the hon. Gentleman said, and as I used to say when I was in opposition, this country has an enormous advantage in that area.