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Volume 461: debated on Monday 4 June 2007

8. If he will make a statement on progress in increasing opportunities for working people to save for their retirement. (140297)

The personal accounts White Paper, published last December, set out our proposals for increasing opportunities and incentives to save for retirement. We reached the end of the consultation period in March and shall publish our response shortly. Our proposals will place simplicity and independence at the heart of a system that, from 2012, will introduce a scheme of low-cost personal accounts for millions of people currently without access to good occupational schemes.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer, and like him, I am very proud of what Labour has done for pensioners over the past 10 years, but what is he doing to ensure that employers meet their obligations?

That is a very good point. Unfortunately, the truth is that only a minority of people currently have access to employer contributions to their pension, and through these reforms, we will now extend that to every employee, so that whenever an employee wants to save in their pension, it will be mandatory for their employer to match that, with tax relief from the state. That is a significant step forward.

Does the Minister agree that people would have greater confidence in saving for their own retirement if the Government had acted to reform public sector pensions, perhaps guided by an independent review? Will he join the consensus initiated by Lord Turner in another place on 14 May that the Government have so far failed to act on the issue? What steps will he take to answer that call?

I am sure that nurses and teachers will notice that the Liberal Democrats are now committing themselves to cutting their pensions, and I am sure that we will be very happy to debate that with them at the next election.