Pensions — 8 Jun 2000

Oliver Letwin MP, West Dorset voted in the minority (Aye).

I beg to move,

That this House believes that the Government's policy towards pensioners is patronising and confusing; recognises that pensioners want the dignity of receiving social security through their basic state pension as an entitlement and not through complicated special payments; urges therefore that the winter fuel payment, free TV licence, and the age addition, along with funds from abolishing the failed New Deal for Lone Parents and other savings, should all be put into a substantial increase in the basic state pension for 2001/2002 of £5.50 for a single pensioner under 75, £7 for a couple under 75, £7.50 for a single pensioner over 75, and £10 for a couple over 75, together with a commensurate increase in thresholds for benefits and tax allowances, so that the value of the increase is passed on to all pensioners, ensuring that they are better off than at present under this Government's muddled and incompetent policies.

We should put more faith in people's desire to engage in a conversation about the future.

I wonder how long it will be for them to get it into their thick heads that pensioners do not want crumbs thrown at them from lord and lady Bountiful Blair's table. . . what they do want is a fair and reasonable pension, and the same amount of pension for all pensioners. We wish to pay our way like everybody else and object strongly when we are made to become forelock touching, cap in hand, second class citizens.

a patronising pat on the back

What older people want is a decent weekly income which they can spend as they wish, and with dignity.

I have an obligation to take the figures into account. I do not have an obligation to get the figures right.

It's like a poor employer who robs his workers every week, then gives them a turkey for Christmas.

It's terrible. The Tory leader is saying in public what we have been saying in private for months.

We have no plans to remove the winter fuel payment.--[ Official Report , 7 February 2000; Vol. 344, c. 33.]

The annual Winter Fuel Payment will be payable to everyone over 60.

thinks people like me are old has-beens, who aren't important or glamorous, people who they think can go to the back of the queue.

Mandelson appeared to have written pensioners off as a group who were not worth cultivating.

Ministers want to "rebrand" pensioners with a trendy name that will appeal to younger people . . .

Ministers believe words like "pensions"--

or "elderly" carry a grey imagine which deters younger people from thinking ahead.

Some of Whitehall's finest minds are working on the problem, while the Government is also seeking outside help to try to come up with a new title.

We would also adjust tax allowances for older people to compensate pensioners for any extra that they might otherwise pay.

we would adjust means tested benefits to ensure that the poorest pensioners gain at least as much as other pensioners.

I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:

'condemns the Opposition for making no commitment to the welfare of either today's or tomorrow's pensioners, opposing every step the Government has taken to help pensioners and producing proposals for next year's basic pension uprating which amount to bribing pensioners with money which is already theirs; recognises the legacy of increasing pensioner poverty left by the last Government; applauds the Government for doing more to help all pensioners, spending £6½ billion more than planned by the last Government, but most for those who need help most by concentrating half the additional money on the poorest quarter of pensioners; congratulates the Government for tackling poverty directly with the Minimum Income Guarantee, helping take-up through better publicity and simplified claims procedures; supports the Government's plans to help those pensioners who just fail to qualify for the Minimum Income Guarantee by raising the capital limits to £12,000 from April 2001 and committing itself to bringing forward proposals for a Pensioner Credit which will reward thrift; congratulates the Government for helping all pensioners with their costs, including Winter Fuel Payments and free television licences for people aged 75 and over; and applauds the Government's strategy for ensuring that, in the future, nobody who has put in a lifetime of work or caring need retire onto means-tested benefits, including a commitment to the basic state pension, a state second pension which does more for 18 million people including those on low and moderate pay, with caring responsibilities or broken work records because of disability, and new flexible, low cost, stakeholder pensions.'.

Taking into account his proposals to abolish Winter Fuel Payments, free TV licences for the over-75s, and the Christmas Bonus these increases would leave single pensioners under 75 £0.42 per week better off.

No account is taken of income tax effects.

You asked about David Willetts' plans for increases to the Retirement Pension, which he has stated as being based on work by the House of Commons Library.

We are making quite a limited announcement today.

We are not over selling this at all; it is a one-off policy.

It is money which is already being spent.

You are leading me now into a policy area in which we haven't yet made a statement.

all other announcements about our attitude towards pensions and the minimum income guarantee and so on are a matter for the future.

In the long term, how you uprate the value of income support, the minimum income guarantee, is indeed a matter for decision.

the name we give to Income Support for pensioners.

hip and knee replacements, hernia and cataract operations

We would carry on increasing the basic pension in line with prices.--[ Official Report , 7 February 2000; Vol. 344, c. 33.]

Dear Ed . . . I have an Honours Degree from Cambridge and was an Under Secretary in DHSS. I find the page of "Winter Fuel Payment Notes" just about as dense a 600-700 word essay as one could imagine. And yet I am required to sign

abolishing the . . . New Deal for Lone Parents

continue to protect the value of the basic state pension against price rises.

the Conservatives have admitted that, had they been in office in April 2000, they would have increased the basic state pension by just 75p . . .

The basic state pension will remain indexed to prices.

an undertaking, on behalf of my party, that we will seek to deal with any matter in our party that other people are concerned about.--[ Official Report , 12 April 2000; Vol. 348, c. 447.]

We would also adjust tax allowances for older people to compensate pensioners for any extra that they might otherwise pay.

we would adjust means tested benefits to ensure that the poorest pensioners gain at least as much as other pensioners.

Despite the unwarranted complaint by many of my contemporaries may I say thank you to a government who by offering me a free TV Licence and £150 Christmas Bonus--

has given me what amounts to a £5 pound a week increase in my pension.

Please may I thank yourself and your party for the fuel allowance that we as pensioners were awarded last winter? My husband and I have only the state pension, topped up by income support. For many years, before we became pensioners, we bought a wooding permit from our local forestry commission in order to keep our home warm as coal was so expensive. This became harder--gathering wood in rain, cold, ice and snow--as we reached pensionable age. The fuel allowance was a life saver, and we straightaway ordered £100-worth of coal, enjoying every second of the warmth it gave. I am sure we can't be the only ones to appreciate your allowance. Thank you once again. I dread to think about future winters if we had had to struggle home with the wet wood.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:--

The House divided: Ayes 121, Noes 301.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 119 (+2 tell)075.6%
Independent1 0033.3%
Lab272 (+2 tell) 0066.0%
LDem27 0057.4%
SNP1 0016.7%
UUP0 2022.2%
Total:301 121066.6%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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NameConstituencyPartyVote
no rebellions

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