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Volume 447: debated on Wednesday 7 June 2006

7. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the effect of pensions policy on the people of Wales. (74944)

The pensions White Paper shows that under our Government’s policies, Welsh pensioners can be assured of proper pension provision in an ageing society.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that response. I welcome the Government White Paper, which is building a consensus for pensioners for the future. At present, many pensioners throughout Wales, including in my constituency, benefit considerably from the pension credit. Will he ensure that, during the transition period to the earnings link, pensioners on pension credit do not lose out; and will he further urge the Department for Work and Pensions to campaign vigorously so that there is a greater take-up of pension credits throughout Wales by our neediest pensioners?

We will certainly do that. Indeed, the pension credit has been of enormous benefit to pensioners in Wales and, in particular, to some of the poorest pensioners in Blaenau Gwent, where 4,760 of them have benefited from it. The people of Blaenau Gwent and Wales as a whole need to be told by the Leader of the Opposition whether he will maintain his policy of abolishing the pension credit system.

Does the Secretary of State accept that many people in Wales are disappointed by the Government’s pension proposals and would much prefer a citizens pension that is paid to everyone at a decent level to be a right of Welsh citizenship?

The people of Wales pensioned off Plaid Cymru years ago. It is the Labour party that is providing a future policy for the people of Wales and the United Kingdom so that they can look forward to security and decency in retirement.