Oral Answers to Questions — Means-testing

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2 April 2001.

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Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling Secretary of State for Social Security 12:00, 2 April 2001

I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman may have expected a different answer. The proportion of means-tested benefits is lower than it was when we took office four years ago. He asked about the pension credit. I make no apology for the fact that the credit means that, for the first time, pensioners who have saved a little money or have a modest occupational or works pension will be rewarded by the state instead of punished under the current system. I cannot understand why Conservative Members want to maintain that system, which is a disincentive to saving. We should encourage people to save for their retirement. The pension credit will ensure that those who do so are rewarded.