Pensions Policy

Part of Opposition Day — [15th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 7:47 pm on 3rd July 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport 7:47 pm, 3rd July 2007

That was an interestingly well read list. The most experienced analysis of the state of Britain's pension system from any member of the Government comes from the right hon. Member for Birkenhead, who is more experienced in this area than any member of the Front-Bench team. His judgment is that in 1997 our pensions system was in pretty good shape, so I will take no lessons from the Government about what happened before 1997, as they have done lasting damage to our pensions system since 1997. They have created a crisis of confidence in pension saving that must be addressed as a matter of urgency. It is one of the great challenges facing the Government.

We have a new Prime Minister, a new Secretary of State and a new Minister with responsibility for pensions, but from the new Prime Minister not even a hint that pensions are among his priorities, or that he feels the need to use his new position to right the wrongs of his time as Chancellor. So I make no apology for raising the issue at the earliest opportunity. The truth is that pensions policy has been run from the Treasury since 1997. The new Prime Minister has to take personal responsibility for the decisions that have been made, and must give a personal lead in addressing the crisis that many pensioners and future pensioners face.

As hon. Members know from the debates on the Pensions Bill, we have constantly sought to engage the Government in constructive dialogue about providing solutions to the problems in our pension system. I wait with interest to see how the Government respond to the amendments passed in the other place. My message to the Secretary of State is that we will continue to look constructively at proposals to continue the repair job that has to be done to our pensions system. I hope that in return he will engage constructively with the Opposition on this most long-term of issues. Only by finding lasting solutions and building political consensus around them can public confidence in our pensions system be restored. But that will not change the failings of the past by a Prime Minister who is now trying to pretend that somehow, he just was not around for the first 10 years of this Government.