Winter Fuel Payment

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th January 2001.

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Photo of Mrs Helen Liddell Mrs Helen Liddell Secretary of State, Scottish Office, The Secretary of State for Scotland 12:00 am, 30th January 2001

I thank my hon. Friend for his generous comments. I pay tribute to my predecessor, who is now Secretary of State for Northern Ireland—a job in which all Scotland wishes him well. As not only the first woman to be Secretary of State for Scotland, but the first mother, I am conscious of the fact that this afternoon I am to welcome to Dover House six young people who are to recite Burns for me. That is an appropriate start to my role.

My hon. Friend is correct about the importance of the winter fuel allowance. Like me, he was a Member of the House before the 1997 general election and witnessed the official Opposition's introduction of VAT on fuel. I am pleased that a Labour Government cut VAT on fuel, pleased that a Labour Chancellor is ensuring that every pensioner receives a £200 winter fuel allowance and pleased that, across government, Labour is seeking to deal with fuel poverty. That represents a significant dividing line between this side of the House and that side. We have practical solutions for real problems.