Clause 1

Part of Pensions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 22nd January 2008.

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Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 10:30 am, 22nd January 2008

I beg to move amendment No. 1, in clause 1, page 1, line 9, leave out ‘and under 75’.

Thank you, Sir Nicholas. It falls to me to welcome you back to the Chair. We are now in the more familiar proceedings of detailed debate in Standing Committee, although I would like to say that I found the evidence sessions useful. They added in many important ways to the debate and they will help us to scrutinise the Bill more effectively over the next couple of weeks.

The amendment is by nature a probing one. I do not intend to press it to a vote but it would be worthwhile for the Committee to examine it. Personal accounts are to be prohibited for everyone over the age of 75. There is the option for people to join a personal account between the state retirement age and the age of 75, which is absolutely right. That is their choice. If people want to go on contributing to a personal account between the age of 60 or 65—it will soon be 68—and the age of 75 that is absolutely right. Why, however, is there this blanket cut-off at the age of 75?

It could be that some people have not thought much about pensions or savings until quite late in their working lives. Maybe they are from a gene stock that is likely to give them a long working life. One example is the late Bill Deedes who died last year at the age of 94. He was working until only two weeks before he died. What if Mr. Deedes or others like him had not thought about pensions until their late 50s or early 60s? If he had reckoned that he was likely to live a long time why should he have been forbidden from contributing to a personal account, say between the ages of 75 and 77, or between 75 and 80? Had he done that he would have had 14 years in which to enjoy a pension income between the ages of 80 and 94. That would be a much longer period than many other people who retire at 65 or whatever and sadly only live for a couple of years.

I am curious, therefore, as to why there is this blanket cut-off at the age of 75. An employer such as Asda, for example, is well known for employing large numbers of older workers. B&Q also regularly employ people in their late 70s and 80s and find them extremely good and competent workers. Indeed, we have had members of this House who have been eminent members, Sir Nicholas, well over the age of 75. Who are we, therefore, to forbid contributions to personal accounts over the age of 75? It is presumptuous to have this cut-off and I am interested to hear what the Minister will say in response. This is a forewarning; there are one or two areas I would like to discuss in the clause 1 stand part debate, but they are not relevant to this amendment.