Clause 50

Part of Pensions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:15 pm on 31st January 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Shadow Minister, Work & Pensions 1:15 pm, 31st January 2008

I am sorry to say that I am not at all reassured by that answer. First of all, the suggestion that it could even be December 2012, and not necessarily April. I agree with the Minister that April is the logical time to start, because it chimes with the tax and accounting years, and so on. Although Paul Lewis is a prince in his profession, I take the Minister’s point about journalists. I think the Minister’s point about Tim Jones’ comments to Paul Lewis got it the wrong way round. It is because he is not a politician that he does not have that natural guile to try to disguise the reality. That is the point.

There are two things we do know for sure, unless the Minister has something up his sleeve. One is that between now and 2012 there will be an election and a new Government—hopefully a Conservative one—and almost certainly a new Minister in charge. Because we have our ambitions to win that election, I take the Minister’s point that a new Minister would have the same concerns about putting a start date on the face of the legislation. I have a sneaking suspicion that some poor devil—it could even be me—arrives on day one after the election as the Pensions Minister and very near the top of his in-tray will be a report from PADA saying we cannot possibly do this by 2012 and these are the reasons.

I think it is time we nailed this down because I have reached the age where I do not like surprises. Let me offer a deal to the Minister. I am prepared not to press this amendment to a Division if the Minister will agree to share with us—and we do have a legitimate interest as the official Opposition—the results of the review that Mr. Jones is conducting. That seems fair. If he wants to suggest doing it on Privy Council terms, I would not object. I do not know what the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey thinks.