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Volume 454: debated on Wednesday 13 December 2006

I thought that the game was that I was to give an answer and the right hon. Gentleman was to respond—he has been here long enough to know that.

The House will be aware of the Government’s commitment to developing an affordable, just and sustainable pensions system. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister chairs the Cabinet Committee on welfare reform, where decisions on pensions policy are taken. I continue to play an active part in those discussions. The Government’s Pensions Bill, which was presented to the House on 29 November, makes a landmark settlement for future generations. It will link the basic state pension to earnings—a link that was broken by the Opposition—and make the system fairer to women and carers. The pensions personal accounts White Paper was laid before the House yesterday. It sets out in more detail our proposals for a new, low-cost way for ordinary working people to save for retirement. I am proud to be part of a Government who are bringing forward these plans for the long-term benefit of ordinary people, and I commend them to the House.

In view of the Deputy Prime Minister’s active interest in this, and in view of his own imminent retirement, will he, as his last act, put right that crime against pensioners—the £5 billion annual raid on pension funds carried out by the Chancellor since 1997—or is he content to retire himself on a secure pension having undermined the savings and pensions of the rest of the country?

I will take no lectures from the right hon. Gentleman, who was a member of a Government who drove 2.5 million pensioners into poverty, whereas we have lifted them out of it, who changed the pension rules allowing them to tax surpluses on pension funds—that was first done by Geoffrey Howe—and who allowed pension holidays. They created the problems in pensions, and we are now correcting them.