Engagements

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 12th June 2013.

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Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 11:30 am, 12th June 2013

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. This Government have put a cap on the welfare that families can receive, but we have been as generous as we can with pensioners who have worked hard during their lives and want to have dignity and security in old age. That is why we have the triple lock. Very interestingly, we now know that the Labour party wants to cut the pension because it is putting a cap on pensions but not on welfare. Just this morning the shadow Foreign Secretary was on television—Edward Miliband may not know this as he might not have been following it—and when challenged about the triple lock he said that it was Labour’s policy “at present”. Given all the U-turns we have had in the last week from the Labour party, I do not think “at present” will last very long.

Annotations

George Morley
Posted on 13 Jun 2013 5:07 pm (Report this annotation)

But neither the Conservatives , Lib/Dems or Labour have the morality or integrity to deal with the frozen pension issue which is forced on just 4% of all pensioners worldwide. This is a shameful indictment on all parties and all governments who have consistently robbed these pensioners with no valid reason or justification for over 60 years. To deny a pensioner the indexing of his pension when he has paid his contributions in the same way as the majority 96% is so immoral and discriminatory. This government in particular should do the honest and right thing and remove regulation 3 which imposes the freezing when the uprating is voted on (a very sick move) and is against the new Charter of the Commonwealth which is implacably opposed to discrimination in any form. The clause 20 in the current Pensions Bill at it's 2nd reading should also be removed. I would remind the Prime Minister of the code of conduct that Members of Parliament should observe which says that "Members have a duty to uphold the law, including the general law against discrimination". Short memories ? And you all know it is wrong !

Andy Robertson-Fox
Posted on 14 Jun 2013 3:38 am (Report this annotation)

Mr. Morley is correct in everything he has said and one only has to consider all the justifiable arguments that have, and still are being, leveled against the Pension Reform Bill to appreciate how ill-considered many of the Pension Minister's proposals are.

He has stated that he cannot remove Clause 20 from the bill because the £655 million required to implement uprating is not affordable.

Setting aside that the NI Fund is in surplus of £28.485 Billion (as at 31st May 2013), and setting aside that the Advocate General at the European Court of Justice, Juliane Kokott, has said "It must be realised that budgetary considerations cannot justify discrimination" and, setting aside that this has been the bases of the judgement in the UK Supreme Court in awarding pension parity to part time judges with their full time colleagues, Mr Webb's premise of affordability is still, actually, totally without foundation!

The cost of abolishing Clause 20 which would only come into effect in April 2016 would, in the first year, be NIL as pensioners retiring before then will be dealt with under the present discriminatory ruling of Regulation 3.
Thereafter - from April 2017 - the numbers retiring and cost involved would gradually increase. This would, of course, be offset by the savings made on NHS, Housing benefit and the other Welfare benefits currently around £7,000 per annum per pensioner) and the impact of unfreezing as per the Oxford Economic Report and the Runnymede Study - which Webb blithely and naively disregards.

The sum of £655 million is the figure being quoted by the DWP to uprate EXISTING pensioners living in frozen countries under the CURRENT NI scheme. There is, of course, no justification for this disgraceful indictment of both parliaments and governments past and present but to try and use it as an argument for not withdrawing Clause 20 is little more than utter dishonesty.

It is to be hoped that the honourable members of ALL parties - and especially those who in 2011 signed Early Day Motion 1895 - see through this continued vile discrimination against that section of the community this coalition is claiming to be "more than generous to" and rule down Clause 20.

Jane Davies
Posted on 14 Jun 2013 4:32 am (Report this annotation)

Nick Clegg has stated that it is morally right to spend £12 billion on International Aid. Is it not also morally right to treat all state pensioners the same? To up-rate the pensions of more than half of British expats and to deny that right to the rest is morally reprehensible as well as discriminatory. ALL have made the mandatory NI contributions, ALL are entitled to be treated the same, not to do so is utterly disgraceful. How can this government claim to care about seniors all the while ignoring the plight of the 4% many of whom are receiving less than £20 a week? The fact that none of the ministers feel shame about this is breathtaking, do as you pledged Mr Webb and put an end to this injustice. Or were you as usual just talking the talk to get votes in the last election?