Pension Sharing

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

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Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Labour/Co-operative, Corby 12:00 am, 17th November 1997

If she will make a statement on the Government's plans for pension sharing. [14643]

Photo of John Denham John Denham Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Social Security)

Pension sharing recognises the contribution that both women and men make to a marriage. The Government are committed to introducing pension sharing for divorcing couples from April 2000. We are working in partnership with the pensions industry, family lawyers and others, and plan to publish a draft Bill for consultation. That is an important step in our programme of modernising the pension system to improve the income of women in retirement.

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Labour/Co-operative, Corby

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply and particularly welcome the announcement that the Government are honouring their commitment, made in opposition, to introduce legislation on pension sharing. Is he aware that many women experience much discrimination with regard to pensions? For example, women are less likely than men to have a good second pension and they are more likely than men to be poor in retirement.

Photo of John Denham John Denham Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Social Security)

My hon. Friend is correct. Introducing pension sharing is one measure that the Government intend to take to improve the position of women in retirement. The development of stakeholder pensions will enable women who cannot join an employer's occupational scheme to have access to a better value, funded second-tier pension. We are also exploring the possibility of introducing a citizenship pension to enable people, particularly carers—who are most likely to be women—to gain additional pension rights to reflect the fact that they are unable to contribute to a funded pension because of their caring responsibilities.