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Fairness and Security in Old Age

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:50 pm on 10th September 2003.

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Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Conservative, Eastbourne 2:50 pm, 10th September 2003

No, we did not.

Liberal Democrat councils charge heavily for care services for older people. They jack up council tax mercilessly and, in the case of my council, sack older workers merely because they turn 65—turning their birth certificate into their P45. Outside this place, in Brent, and indeed in Eastbourne, Liberal Democrats extol the virtues of the pension credit, but in the House, they say that they want to scrap it. They certainly do not mention the means-testing that is at the heart of its approach to poorer pensioners.

I hope that the voters of Brent will have taken some of these points on board. Advice from the booklet for Liberal Democrat campaigners is that they should "act shamelessly, stir endlessly" and not "be afraid to exaggerate". That is how they operate throughout the country.

I urge the Liberals to make the difficult journey from piety to reality and not to mislead people, especially vulnerable pensioners. They should drop their empty rhetoric and their hypocrisy. I shall not urge my right hon. and hon. Friends to support the motion both for those reasons and because the motion makes the ritual attack on the Conservative record in government. I invite my right hon. and hon. Friends to abstain on the motion but to vote against the Government amendment, which is astounding in its complacency, even by the standards of this Government.