Pensions and Pensioners — 6 Nov 2000

I beg to move,

That this House believes that pensioners have been betrayed by both Conservative and Labour Governments over the last twenty years; notes that the Conservatives devalued the basic state pension, slashed future SERPS entitlements and oversaw the scandalous mis-selling of personal pensions; notes that the Labour Manifesto promised that pensioners would 'share fairly in the increasing prosperity of the nation', but that the Government now spends a smaller share of national income on pensioners than when Labour came to power; notes that pensioner poverty rose by 400,000 in the first two years of the present Government and that there were nearly 50,000 excess winter deaths in 1998-99 alone, mainly among pensioners; further notes that this year's 75p pension rise was an insult to pensioners and that despite a multi-million pound take-up campaign half a million pensioners still do not receive the means-tested assistance to which they are entitled; believes that the failure to adopt the recommendations of the Royal Commission on long-term care will still leave tens of thousands of pensioners having to sell their homes to pay for care; is concerned that hundreds of thousands of pensioners have faced delays in receiving their pension because of the Government's failure to deal with the problems of the NIRS2 computer system; and therefore calls upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to announce a substantial increase in the rate of the basic state pension, with additional increases for the oldest pensioners, and to apologise for failing to deliver a decent pension to all pensioners.

The basic state pension will remain indexed to prices.

Following the well-documented problems . . . considerable progress has . . . been made and the Inland Revenue now regards the system as stable.--[ Official Report , 31 October 2000; Vol. 355, c. 409W.]

how many pensioners are not receiving

As at 15 September 2000, Benefit Agency offices had 97,000 pension awards waiting to be reviewed.--[ Official Report , 2 November 2000; Vol. 355, c. 573W.]

there are 7m cases on the computer system with data missing today, compared with 2.5m in 1998.

would or might have acted differently if they had received the correct information.--[ Official Report , 26 October 2000; Vol. 355, c. 166W.]

I have discussed the matter with some of the folk who have been through the personal pension mis-selling follow-up. Each case is painstakingly examined and the process is taking a long time to complete. However, the work is being done thoroughly. How can anyone prove that seven or eight years ago he saw a duff leaflet-- [Interruption.] I think that the Minister said from a sedentary position, "He does not have to prove." The individual will have to say that he received a duff leaflet and show that he

would have or might have acted differently.

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

"endorses the Government's approach to pensions and other policies for pensioners; notes that the Government has already committed £6½ billion more to pensioner benefits during this Parliament than was planned by the Conservatives, while ensuring that this additional expenditure is funded prudently and consistently with the Government's fiscal rules; strongly agrees with the Government that the basic state pension should be retained as the foundation of pension provision, and that most should be done for those pensioners who need most help through the Minimum Income Guarantee; supports the additional help for pensioner households, including winter fuel payments, which now gives them the equivalent of a further £3 a week and free TV licences for the over 75s, which were introduced from 1st November 2000; also supports the wide range of other measures taken by the Government for pensioners, the record investment in the National Health Service, free eye tests, help with home insulation and concessionary public transport fares and reductions in income taxation; and further agrees with the Government that the next priority should be to help pensioners with moderate savings and small occupational pensions to ensure that their thrift is rewarded and that they are able to share in the rising prosperity of the nation."

I can confirm that I submitted a report to the Secretary of State during the week ended 6 October, as indicated by Mr. Young in his letter to the Secretary of the Southwark Pensioners Action Group,

which is what the hon. Member for Northavon quoted. The Government Actuary went on:

In my letter to the Secretary of State covering the report I made it clear that the report did not cover the Government's proposals for uprating in April 2001. In pursuance of my responsibilities with respect to the uprating orders I would either have to amend this report or lay a supplementary report detailing these effects.

The Secretary of State wants Parliament to have all the relevant information before it debates the uprating orders.

Accordingly he--

asked, and I--

have agreed, to complete the report by adding a further section to take account of the Government's proposals for uprating in April 2001. The Secretary of State has asked me to complete that section in time for him to lay the report when he sets out his proposals to Parliament next week.

The report on the financial impact of price and earnings indexation of the basic pension--

is now at a very advanced state and I am hoping to be able to submit it . . . next week.

The Government Actuary is currently finalising his report on the effect of the National Insurance Fund of an earnings uprating--

and it will be published when it completed.--[ Official Report , 2 November 2000; Vol. 355, c. 575W.]

The report will not be completed until the Government Actuary has the figures that the Chancellor will use on Wednesday. That is precisely what I said in parliamentary answers to my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) and to other hon. Members.

all payments should be issued by the end of September.--[ Official Report , 11 April 2000; Vol. 354, c. 271W.]

everybody would have received all of the benefits, plus any compensation . . .--[ Official Report , 26 July 1999; Vol. 336, c. 97.]

I don't want to live in a country where the only way pensioners can get long term care is by selling their homes.

If you are rooted in public concern then you will know that if every organisation you talk to, every medical group, every local authority, the Sutherland people themselves, the PLP, the Liberal group--

involves a rejection of the wider functions which the contributory system offers, of allowing individuals, whatever their means, to redistribute income over their lifetime.

fundamentally we believe that the basis for support in old age should be the universal state pension, payable at the age of retirement. The state pension should be linked to the increase in average earnings.

people who work all their lives should not have to rely on means-tested benefits when they retire.

It went on to say that

the Government's long-term aim of enabling working people to retire on incomes which will not require them to depend on a means-test, will be realised.

There is a statutory obligation to take these figures (i.e., earnings) into account, which was done, but no statutory obligation to get it right--

a Government who introduce legislation then cynically refuse to implement it.

a more realistic, a more honest and, above all, a more sustainable, prospectus.--[ Official Report , 20 December 1979; Vol. 976, c. 903.]

But no matter, I have my 75p increase plus my 75p "over 80" gift and to cap it all, £100 fuel allowance. Minus £97 tax credit loss, this then equals £3 for fuel plus increase plus age allowance. It makes the mafia appear as Fairy Godmothers.

Dear Mr. Nicholls,

My wife is 77 years of age and is registered disabled; I submit her tax return to the Inland Revenue each year.

I am enclosing photostat copies of statements for the tax years ending April 1999 and April 2000 which reveal a substantial drop in income due to the changes made by the Chancellor . . . in respect of the taxation of dividends.

Throughout her working life my wife endeavoured to save, out of taxed income, in order that she would not become a burden on the State. The Government boast that they have kept their promise not to increase basic rates of tax but are careful not to mention the many significant increases in indirect taxes.

There are, most probably, large numbers of pensioners who have been affected similarly and I hope that protest continues to be voiced in . . . Parliament and the media.

I had thought that the Government were encouraging people to save for their later years!!

The basic state pension will remain indexed to prices.

We will create an additional top-up pension for pensioners with incomes below the income support level. This will be indexed to earnings and tapered as outside income increases.

What about a man aged 60 to 64 losing his winter fuel payment?

We faced a tough choice here . . . We decided it was more important to increase the state pension. The savings on benefits for this group help to finance better pensions which will, of course, benefit these men within a few years.

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

The House divided: Ayes 38, Noes 280.

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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
Con1 000.6%
Independent0 1033.3%
Lab280 (+2 tell) 0068.3%
LDem0 34 (+2 tell)076.6%
PC0 2050.0%
SNP0 1016.7%
Total:281 38051.0%

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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no rebellions

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