Clause 2 - Minimum Retirement Income

Retirement Income Reform Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 2nd July 2003.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Conservative, Harborough 3:45 pm, 2nd July 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 23, in

clause 2, page 2, line 41, after 'year', insert 'following consultation'.

Photo of Peter Atkinson Peter Atkinson Conservative, Hexham

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 42, in

clause 2, page 2, line 41, leave out from 'order' to end of line 44 and insert—

'( ) An order under this section shall, in respect of each financial year after that in which this Act comes into force, be made on or before 31st January preceding the year in question.'.

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Conservative, Harborough

I want to introduce the amendment briefly, not because of what you just said, Mr. Atkinson, but in any event. I want also to soothe the Minister yet further by saying that I do not wholly object to his amendment No. 42. I want the Chancellor to work out what is best from the point of view of both the public purse and the public, in so far as those two concepts diverge, when it comes to setting the minimum retirement income.

I am not in a position as an Opposition Member on the Back Benches to work out what would be an appropriate level for the minimum income in years to come—that would be true were I on the Front

Bench, too. Only the Chancellor, as the custodian of the economy, can properly do that, but he will take advice from within the Treasury, and no doubt from outside it, about where best to pitch the figure for each year. I trust that one way or the other the Committee can come to a resolution on both amendments; that is, that the Chancellor, following consultation, should make the order, or that there should be deletion and replacement with the words that the Government propose in their amendment No. 42.

Frankly, I am not going to go to the cross for either amendment; all I ask is for the Minister to accept the good faith in which I propose the amendment, as I want to hand not only to the current Chancellor but to successive Chancellors the power and the discretion to set the minimum income.

Photo of John Healey John Healey The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

First, I am grateful for the hon. and learned Gentleman's comments on amendment No. 42, which is designed to make a flawed Bill a little less flawed. His amendment relates to a small matter that my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) in particular criticised in a much wider critique on Second Reading. I am sure that my hon. Friend will welcome the fact that the hon. and learned Gentleman has listened to those comments, taken them on board and produced his amendment. Bearing in mind the official report of our discussions, I want only to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether he has a view on whom the Chancellor, in being given the relevant power and responsibility, ought to consult; or is the hon. and learned Gentleman content to leave that entirely up to the Chancellor?

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Conservative, Harborough

I thought that I had made my position generally clear; the Chancellor would take advice from those in the Treasury and those outside it. I cannot be more specific than that. I do not know who will be in post when the Bill comes into force, but I am sure that the Chancellor, even this one, can be canny about working out to whom it would be appropriate to talk.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 42, in

clause 2, page 2, line 41, leave out from 'order' to end of line 44 and insert—

'( ) An order under this section shall, in respect of each financial year after that in which this Act comes into force, be made on or before 31st January preceding the year in question.'.—[John Healey.]

Clause 2, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.