Moreover, given that the United Kingdom demographic explosion has already occurred, we do not have a Pensions Crisis.
At the beginning of our constituency week of absence, under the rather terse headline "Pensions Crisis deepens", The Sunday Telegraph reported: "Stakeholders have bombed, annuity rates are tumbling and companies are ditching final salary schemes".
In many ways, we are going through a Pensions Crisis, and we need to know what the situation is relating to intergenerational transfers.
What about the serious Crisis in Pensions?
A Pensions Crisis is engulfing the country and we should be cautious, albeit with the best of intentions Although we want to help those in need in retirement today, if the policy takes us down a wrong and irreversible path, it will not do future generations any good.
I want to return to the issue of whether the pension credit will tackle the Pension Crisis that confronts us as every day passes.
A Pensions Crisis is engulfing the country and we should be cautious, albeit with the best of intentions.
My hon. Friend the Member for Havant made a series of telling points about the increasing Crisis in Pensions, with which the Government will now have to deal.
First, there is a Pensions Crisis.
At some stage - given the overall Crisis in Pensions and so many people on means-tested benefits, and if we are to continue with the type of tax imposition announced in the most recent Budget - we shall have to ask who is going to pay for all this.
We should recognise that we face a Crisis in Pensions.
We now have Another Pensions Crisis.
There has been much talk of a Pensions Crisis.
As my noble friend Lord Freeman and others said, we need to improve the climate for saving and we need to encourage pensions for, as both my noble friend Lord Higgins and my neighbour from the Isle of Wight, the noble Lord, Lord Oakeshott, said, we are facing a Pensions Crisis.
The £5 billion pension tax grab has led not just to the Pension Crisis, but to a reduction in pension savings with the closure of final salary schemes.
From 1992 until last year, and the sad fall of the stock market after the Pensions Crisis, the performance of companies that had substantial employee ownership was roughly double that of those that did not.
Can the hon. Gentleman specifically comment on reports that with an annual £11 million shortfall, the Church of England is considering scrapping the final salary pension scheme for clergy as the latest victims of the Pension Crisis?
It would be churlish not to accept that two of the major factors in the Pensions Crisis are wholly outside the Government's control.
The right hon. Member for Birkenhead was right to say that there is a sense of urgency among our constituents about the Pensions Crisis, which now appears every day in our newspapers, and a feeling that the people whom they elect need to tackle it urgently.
I dispute that there is a Crisis in Pensions in the United Kingdom - and that is partly because of the steps taken by the Government in the past five years.
The point that others have raised before becomes all the more important given the Pension Crisis and the fact that many people will not get the pensions that they expected.
The Bill does not address the Pension Crisis that we face and that is largely a result of the Finance Act 1997.
There is a Pensions Crisis.
My noble friend Lord Christopher said there was a Pensions Crisis.
First, the Bill does not address the Pensions Crisis which perhaps has arisen as a direct result of the Finance Act 1997.
We have heard a great deal about a Pensions Crisis in recent weeks.
When we see particular proposals for dealing with the Crisis in Pensions, we will of course consider them.
It is not just union militancy that has got worse over the past five years under this Government, but a number of other things - for example, the Crisis in Pensions.
Britain is in the grip of a Minister-made Pensions Crisis.
A great opportunity was missed yesterday to address the looming Crisis in Pensions.
I hope that the Secretary of State will offer us some account of what policies he will put before the House to tackle the Pension Crisis.
It is widely acknowledged, including by the Government, that we are facing a Pensions Crisis and that many people are facing an impoverished retirement because of inadequate pension provision.
The Government have been reminded about their taxation on pensions, which is plainly feeding into a Serious Pension Crisis in this country.
In the Worst Pension Crisis before Maxwell, the runaway inflation and stock market collapse of the mid-1970s, most employers behaved responsibly: they held their nerve and showed their commitment to their workforce by raising, not cutting, their pension fund contributions, even when their own profits were going through the wringer.
Something bold and imaginative will be needed to avoid facing a Real Pension Crisis for future generations.
believe that Government proposals for health and social care unfairly punish social services for Government failure, fail to provide proper democratically accountable decentralisation and create inequitable distinctions in funding between foundation hospitals and others; regret the lack of provision for free personal care for elderly and disabled people and the failure to tackle the Pension Crisis; note that the Government has failed to put the environment at the heart of its legislative agenda and address the crisis in the public transport system; note the 7 per cent.
Of course we understand the need for consensus and stability to encourage long-term saving, and we will support his measures where we can, but it is no use pretending that what he has announced today will somehow reverse Our Pension Crisis.
The Crisis in Pensions is wide-ranging.
He has presided over missed growth forecasts, halved productivity growth, a Pensions Crisis and increasing Government debt.
We cannot ignore the fall in the stock market and the Crisis in Pensions, which certainly do not help.
This is a very important point, because it is one reason for the Pensions Crisis.
However, the question remains whether the Green Paper provides an answer to today's Pensions Crisis.
The public can see clearly enough the Crisis in Pensions.
It could be argued that none of the factors commonly agreed to be the causes of the Current Pension Crisis is new.
The Current Pensions Crisis is not caused just by falling stock markets; there are also the implications of rising longevity and declining birth-rates and the ensuing changes in the dependency ratio, an issue that I am always raising in the House.
The current Pensions Crisis is not caused just by falling stock markets; there are also the implications of rising longevity and declining birth-rates and the ensuing changes in the dependency ratio, an issue that I am always raising in the House.
In commenting on the Green Paper it would be wrong not to make reference to the present circumstances as regards pensions - and to what is regularly described as a "Pensions Crisis".
I believe that that one action started the Pension Crisis rolling.
Employers also contributed to the Present Pensions Crisis by awarding themselves contribution holidays at a time when the stock market was producing substantial returns.
While by no means claiming that to be the only cause of the Current Pensions Crisis, it clearly has not helped.
While by no means claiming that to be the only cause of the current Pensions Crisis, it clearly has not helped.
Many speakers today, starting with the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, referred to a Pensions Crisis, as I did myself in a debate last May.
They are not perhaps sufficiently worried and do not have enough sense of what your Lordships have referred to today as a "Pensions Crisis".
I fear that I must tell the Minister that I was not convinced by her reply: I was not convinced on pension tax; I was not convinced that the Government fully appreciate the Pensions Crisis; above all, I was not convinced that the Government have the policies to meet the crisis.
The Financial Secretary represents a constituency that is by no means at the top of the income pile, and must realise that a measure such as this will do something, if by no means everything, towards solving the Pensions Crisis.
My hon. Friend is right to ask whether that is the root cause of what has become known as a Pensions Crisis.
The hon. and learned Gentleman and my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead mentioned the Pensions Crisis.
Surely the Real Pensions Crisis was when the Tories so liberalised the financial services industry that thousands of people were sold pensions that they should never have been sold in the first place.
Although there may not be a Pensions Crisis per se, I accept the argument put to us by a number of people in the Select Committee hearings that there is a crisis of confidence in the private pensions sector.
The big issue is the Pensions Crisis, which has many aspects but is, above all, about millions more people ending up with money purchase pensions, the fact that fewer than four in 10 final salary schemes are now open to new members, and the failure of stakeholder pensions, which have achieved only 2 per cent.
He has also created a Pensions Crisis.
Nor do they equate with the Pensions Crisis, which has caused a yearly £5 billion hole in pension provision, and has led Age Concern to point out that Government proposals on pensions require "fairness, security, clarity and flexibility".
Although the Chancellor made it clear that he was going to take measures to help the poorest pensioners in our society, he did not say anything about the Grave Pension Crisis that is affecting many of our fellow citizens.
We must also take account of the questions arising out of the Pensions Crisis.
One of the other extraordinary omissions from yesterday's Budget statement was anything about the Pensions Crisis facing our country.
They demand that the Government at least consider reforming the benefits system as part of tackling the Pension Crisis.
I want especially to deal with matters connected with benefits and pensions, because yesterday's Budget statement omitted any reference to the growing Pensions Crisis.
The Pensions Crisis is causing real fear among the population, and there was no comfort in the Budget for my constituents.
I made it clear that the Government are not entirely responsible for the Pension Crisis.
Ruth Lea said: "There is no doubt about it, there is a Pensions Crisis in this country…people are not saving enough…the rates of return on pension saving have suffered, partly reflecting…the current Government's removal of the tax credit on dividend payments…We doubt if [the Government] recognise that there is indeed a pensions crisis".
Ruth Lea said: "There is no doubt about it, there is a Pensions Crisis in this country .
Will the Minister acknowledge the impact of that pernicious policy and the role that that tax has played in the Current Pensions Crisis?
Would it do anything to address the question of the Pensions Crisis, which other right hon. and hon. Members have mentioned?
I do not need to remind noble Lords that this country has a Pensions Crisis.
Until 4 o'clock there will be a debate entitled "Pensions Crisis", followed by a debate on the euro.
The chairman of the occupational pensions advisory service—an august body—Malcolm McLean OBE said only last month: "Although the Government…seem to want to play it down, there is from my and an OPAS perspective, something of a Crisis in Pensions at the moment".
The Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Maria Eagle) responded by denying that there was a Pensions Crisis, although nobody else seemed to agree with that.
I beg to move, That this House condemns the Government's extensive delay in appointing a new Minister for Pensions at a time of Pensions Crisis; further condemns the Government for pursuing a strategy of mass means testing of pensioners; notes that the Department for Work and Pensions will have satisfied its PSA target even if a million pensioners are still missing out on their entitlement to Pension Credit by 2006; further notes that the Pension Credit will be run on a computer system described by the previous Secretary of State as 'very decrepit'; believes that the Pensions Green Paper was an inadequate response to a range of pensions problems, including the large number of people of working age who are facing financial insecurity in retirement, particularly many women; further notes the continued insecurity of many members of defined benefit pension schemes and the lack of protection for working age scheme members when schemes are wound up; calls on the Government to address these issues as a matter of urgency; and further calls on the Government urgently to simplify the state pension system and to ensure that the basic state pension provides a firm foundation for income in retirement, with particular reference to the needs of older pensioners.
seem to want to play it down, there is from my and an OPAs perspective, something of a Crisis in Pensions at the moment".
I am grateful to the Minister for giving way because it allows me to put on the record the fact that my hon. Friends the Members for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Mitchell) and for South-West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous) and I voted for an amendment to that report - which was not agreed - to conclude that there is a Pension Crisis.
You know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is a shocking thing that, with the Pensions Crisis that this country is facing at the moment, all we get from the Government is consultation.
The Pensions Crisis began under the Tory Government.
We should not lose sight of the fact that the seeds of the Present Pensions Crisis were sown under the Conservative Government.
It is possible that, if we are lucky, a few employers will set up new schemes, but no amount of whizz ways of encouraging employers to get their employees into schemes will surmount the Pension Crisis that we face.
Many of us are so concerned about the Current Pension Crisis that we have even considered deploying the arcane parliamentary procedure of tabling a motion, to be debated on the Floor of the House that would allow us to cut the salary of the Minister for Pensions.
The Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions,the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Maria Eagle) responded by denying that there was a Pensions Crisis, although nobody else seemed to agree with that.
To return to a point raised by the hon. Member for Havant (Mr. Willetts) about a Pensions Crisis, I have to tell the House that I would not be introducing these wide-ranging radical measures if I did not accept the scale of the challenge, and the scale of anxiety that is afflicting pensioners in this country—[Interruption.
Meanwhile, the Crisis in Pensions has been getting steadily worse.
To return to a point raised bythe hon. Member for Havant (Mr. Willetts) about a Pensions Crisis, I have to tell the House that I would not be introducing these wide-ranging radical measures if I did not accept the scale of the challenge, and the scale of anxiety that is afflicting pensioners in this country - [Interruption.
The Minister will have realised from the question asked bythe hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Kevin Brennan) that the Pensions Crisis is biting deep for many hundreds of thousands of people.
It is undoubted that the Pensions Crisis exists and that it is growing.
That would at least send out a clear message that they believe that there is a Pensions Crisis and that they are trying to grapple with it - they have failed to grapple with it up to now.
I beg to move, That this House believes that this Government has failed to deliver fairness and security for older people; is concerned that home care services for older people have been cut back and that the Government has presided over the collapse of the care home sector through botched regulations and underfunding; condemns the Government for putting in place rules that allowed thousands of elderly people to be forced to give up their life savings and homes to fund their continuing healthcare; believes that the Government has failed to tackle the Pensions Crisis both for current and future pensioners, putting in place a complex system of means-tests that fails to get help to the poorest pensioners, whilst heaping extra costs on pensioners by relying on the unfair Conservative council tax to fund local services; is concerned that many pensioners will suffer as a result of the closure of local post offices, a problem made worse by the Government's plans to scrap the pension book and introduce direct payment; and calls on the Government to stabilise the care home and home care sectors, offer security and real choice to older people, simplify the pension system, boost the basic state pension and abolish the council tax and replace it with a tax related to ability to pay.
I want to turn to the "Pensions Crisis", as the Liberal Democrat motion describes it.
Secondly, I want to followthe hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris) in his analysis of where the Pensions Crisis for existing and future pensioners now rests.
The hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Mitchell) raised the important issue of care home closures specifically in Birmingham, and drew attention to the Pensions Crisis, a crisis that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West believes does not exist.
Practically everyone apart from the Government recognises the fact that there is a Pensions Crisis.
We have had two Government statements on pensions in the past year but no debate on the Pensions Crisis, despite the semi-promise that was given when my hon. Friendthe Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) raised the matter during a debate held earlier this year.
We believe that the combination of a simple, decent and straightforward basic state pension, with strong incentives to save, is the only practical way of solving the Pensions Crisis faced by the country.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Biggest Pension Crisis that we have inherited is a lack of proper pension provision for many of the oldest women living in our society today?
Reference has also been made to other aspects of the hon. Gentleman's proposals for solving the Pension Crisis.
Yet again, it is an Opposition day debate that provides us with the opportunity to discuss the Pensions Crisis in the United Kingdom.
The Pensions Crisis will never be resolved until we reverse the trend towards greater means-testing and go back to a system whereby it is in people's own interests to start looking forward to their old age and the opportunities that it provides, and until we provide dignity in what is surely one of the most attractive phases of life.
The Government appear to believe that the solution to the Pensions Crisis is either to make people work longer or to use means-testing as a way of rationing the cost.
The pensions Bill will do nothing to tackle the main causes of the Pension Crisis.
I repeat that the pensions Bill will do nothing to tackle the main causes of the Pensions Crisis.
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the Address, at end add - 'But regret that the Gracious Speech contains no measures to provide fundamental reform of public services or to reduce the level of waste in government; condemn the absence of proposals to restore the incentive to save, which has been eroded by the vast growth in means testing; deplore the absence of sufficient measures to avert the Pensions Crisis; further regret that the Gracious Speech makes no reference to the need to establish a more transparent and coherent fiscal structure; further condemn the absence of measures to fulfil the Government's pledge to improve the competitiveness of the British economy and the rate of productivity growth; note that rail delays have doubled and traffic congestion has increased under this Government, and that there are no measures in the Gracious Speech adequately to address the Government's failure to tackle these problems, which are damaging competitiveness and leading to reduced choice for the travelling public; further condemn the failure of a draft Bill to indicate what the powers of any regional assembly would be, even though proposals for local government reorganisation have been published; and believe that the Government's proposals to restrict the right to buy will frustrate the legitimate aspirations of tenants to own their homes.
The financial pages of the Sunday Telegraph on11 January, discussing the Pensions Crisis, revealed that the Government Actuary's Department has recently published figures showing that life expectancy for older people is growing even faster than had been expected, to the great alarm and distress of annuity providers.
The Minister knows that the Pension Crisis is probably the single greatest threat to the financial stability of fire and rescue services - at least a quarter of the budget of large fire authorities will be going on pensions within the next couple of years.
Some 15 years ago, I was involved in the same conversation in pressing on central Government the need for them to take action on the Pensions Crisis that was developing in the London fire brigade.
There may be difficulties with confidence, but there is no structural Crisis in Pensions in the UK.
A fellow member of the Select Committee,the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris), understated the extent of the Current Pensions Crisis, but if he returns on Tuesday, I will tell him a bit more about why I disagree with him, and vice versa.
Meanwhile the Government, who for the moment are in charge of the issue, stand by impotent while the Pensions Crisis rages.
We are all trying to tackle the Serious Pension Crisis in the light of changes, including the tax imposed by the Government and the reductions in the value of the minimum funding requirement.
If that is correct, this is the Impending Pensions Crisis.
The Government have been forced by the sheer strength of the public outcry over the Pension Crisis finally to act, but if the Secretary of State will forgive me - I do not think it is his fault - there may be an accusation that they are trying to do so on the cheap.
May I invite the Minister to agree that it would be just plain daft to expect that the Pension Crisis could be solved by putting more and more pensioners on to means-tested benefits, thereby penalising people for saving?
Pensions will benefit from the simplification of the tax system, but nothing is being done to tackle the Pensions Crisis that all hon. Members know exists.
I said then that, given the current Crisis in Pensions, we would want to return to this subject.
Let me be clear: I do not blame the Government for each and every part of the Pensions Crisis - that would be the worst kind of "yah-boo" politics; I accept that - but I do blame them in a number of very important respects.
There has been no substantial disagreement about the fact that we face a Pensions Crisis and that we must restore confidence.
There is a real fear that by trying to deal with the Pensions Crisis and particularly the collapse in the equity market, thereby creating a mechanism for property investment for pensions, the Government could be exacerbating the problem of speculative investment in the housing market, or even precipitating and bringing about the very crash in the property market that they tell us we have no need to worry about.
I am trying to be constructive; I can understand the rationale for making a wider portfolio of assets available for pension investment because of the Pensions Crisis, but the SIPPs mechanism that the Government are choosing is not the best means of proceeding.
The Green Paper was produced in December 2002 and the White Paper came out in June 2003, but nearly one year later, amendments are being tabled with virtually no time for scrutiny, which suggests that the Government lack a clear and rigorous strategy to tackle the Pensions Crisis.
It is ironic that the Pensions Crisis has developed severely in recent years while the regulatory effort and cost in the system have massively increased.
In the long-term, that could prove to be the worst part of the Pensions Crisis that we face.
One wonders what the Government have been doing in the past couple of years, as the Pensions Crisis has mounted.
We have the infamous £5 billion annual raid on pension funds, which is one of the major causes of today's Pensions Crisis, and that, in turn, has led to a loss of confidence in savings for pensions.
In opening the debate, the noble Baroness made some general remarks about the present situation - but we are in a Pensions Crisis.
Some of the proceedings in the other place inevitably smacked more of pre-legislative scrutiny than proper, detailed parliamentary consideration of a complex Bill, offering properly worked-out solutions to Britain's Pension Crisis.
The context of the Bill is, as my noble friend Lord Higgins said, the Current Pensions Crisis.
The context of the Bill is, as my noble friend Lord Higgins said, the current Pensions Crisis.
So I think it is high time that the Government really adopted a practical approach to dealing with the Pensions Crisis, and simplification is a central plank of being practical.
We are all agreed on the scale of the Pensions Crisis.
I will look seriously at Conservative policy when I see a serious policy, rather than the absurd apocalyptic vision that the hon. Gentleman is presenting, according to the national prints today: a ridiculous idea that what he calls a Pension Crisis - we call it a pension challenge - can be equated with the threat to this country from international terrorism.
Is the Pensions Crisis not down to the failure of his Government and is it not time that he stopped changing his Ministers and started changing his policies?
I beg to move, That this House regrets the Government's failure to tackle the Pensions Crisis; expresses concern that present and former employees of Turner & Newall and those in a similar position do not know what assistance, if any, they will get from either the Financial Assistance Scheme or the Pension Protection Fund; regrets the inadequacies of Government efforts to encourage people to build up retirement savings in funded pensions; condemns the spread of means-tested benefits; draws attention to the Government's recent failure to deliver benefits to pensioners competently; further regrets the Government's wider failure to reform the welfare system for older people; notes that the National Pensioners Convention is lobbying Parliament on 8th September; and calls for Government action to tackle the crisis in funded pensions and to ensure dignity and security in retirement for older people.
The Sun said: "Tony Blair is alarmed by the failure of successive ministers to grapple with the Pension Crisis".
Instead, what we have is a shambles, with a serious and growing Crisis in Our Pensions.
I shall turn to our policies for tackling the Pensions Crisis.
10 that the Government are about to get serious about reforming welfare and tackling the Pensions Crisis.
As he knows, my party has been putting forward constructive proposals concerning the Pensions Crisis, how to reform the mess of state benefits for pensioners, and how to encourage more funded pensions saving over many years.
When the Prime Minister was quizzed by a journalist at his press conference yesterday - "What is your answer to the Pensions Crisis, Prime Minister"?
An instant access savings account is apparently the solution to the Pensions Crisis and to the fact that not enough money will be ours, guaranteed, in 30 years' time.
Those two reforms alone will not deal with the Pension Crisis that people are lobbying us on today.
10 briefing machine was in overdrive during August, making it clear that the Pensions Crisis was the responsibility of anyone in the Government but the Prime Minister.
Recent figures confirm that more than 1 million workers are working beyond the usual retirement age, which is another sign of the Crisis in Pensions.
We currently have no Secretary of State - the Department is rudderless; everyone except Ministers agrees that the financial assistance scheme is inadequate; the Pensions Bill lurches from disaster to disaster; the PPF will not provide a full guarantee; and the Pensions Crisis deepens and worsens as Ministers come and go.
Crime is up, incapacity benefit is out of control, tax is rising, hospital infections are spreading and there is a Crisis in Pensions, but the Prime Minister's message to the people of this country is that his priority is to ban fox hunting.
Conservative policies would commit us to taking specific action to deal with the Pensions Crisis by introducing a bigger state pension, abolishing compulsory annuities, letting companies promote their pension schemes, and operating a proper pension recovery programme.
It has been an extraordinary 10 days, even in the history of this Government's attempts to reform the welfare state and to tackle the Pensions Crisis.
Let me now turn, then, from the Government's failure to reform welfare to their failure to tackle the Pensions Crisis.
I accept, of course, that the Serious Pensions Crisis that we currently face arises from a range of factors.
It is very illuminating and I strongly recommend it to Labour Members, especially on account of its passages on the Pensions Crisis and the notorious pensions tax.
The Turner report contains some very grim evidence about the seriousness of the Pensions Crisis.
Perhaps the most damning thing of all is that although the Conservatives have come up with an eight-point plan to tackle the Pensions Crisis, and despite the fact that the majority of pensioners are women and a greater majority of the poorest pensioners are women, that plan makes no mention of women's pension problems.
He has likened the Pensions Crisis to global warming and the war on terror.
In other words, the Conservatives would establish an account that people can use in any way they like - to put money in or to take money out - and that that will solve the Pensions Crisis.
At our conference, a motion on a detailed package of proposals to deal with the Pensions Crisis was carried almost without opposition.
They are not the only reason that we are in our current position, but both are huge contributory factors to the Pensions Crisis we face.
All of us, as constituency MPs, will discover from the contents of our mailbags in the weeks and months ahead that many of our older electors are becoming very worried by what they read in headlines about a Pensions Crisis.
Consensus can be found on one issue only - that a Pension Crisis now exists.
Those who have made contributions throughout their lives imagined that all would be well, but now they hear and read about the Pensions Crisis.
Almost everyone agrees that there is a Pensions Crisis, except possibly Ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions.
The Crisis in Pensions is with us now.
] They are designed to tackle the Pensions Crisis, but if they cause such hilarity among Labour Members, why do they not come up with their own ideas rather than having a self-imposed moratorium between now and next autumn that takes them conveniently, or perhaps not, through the election campaign?
When will the Financial Secretary and the Chancellor see that it demeans the whole of British politics when Ministers stand there and claim sole responsibility for all the good things in the economy and then claim that they have no responsibility whatever for the Pensions Crisis?
We face a substantial Crisis in Pensions.
Does he really believe that the pension credit is the right long-term solution to Britain's Pension Crisis?
As I have made clear, the Conservatives regret the fact that the Government continue to regard British business as merely a milch cow from which they can draw ever greater contributions to help pay for this flawed layer of bureaucracy that they are setting up, to try to deal with a Pensions Crisis that they have done so much to create.
In government we have tackled the Real Pensions Crisis, and we should be proud that we have reduced absolute poverty for pensioners by two thirds and taken 1.
Finally, I shall discuss the Pensions Crisis and the amount that we, as a nation, are saving.
The Minister claimed that the Pensions Crisis was caused in part by companies taking pension holidays.
And yet we have a Pensions Crisis today, one reason for which is that those born in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s are living very much longer than government and other actuaries had forecast, throwing the calculations of annuity providers totally into disarray.
There is certainly nothing on how the present Crisis in Pensions is to be resolved.
For today's pensioners, we have taken radical action to tackle pensioner poverty, which was the Real Pensions Crisis that we faced when we came into office in 1997.
That was part of the "Pensions Crisis?
What about the neglect of the Crisis in Pensions?
We have long argued that we have a Real Pensions Crisis in this country, but the Government have been in denial.
We have long argued that we have a real Pensions Crisis in this country, but the Government have been in denial.
The Government talk about taking measures to address the Pensions Crisis - a crisis of their own creation.
Perhaps if the Bank of England's independence is this Government's greatest achievement, its worst legacy is the Crisis in Pensions.
We wish David Blunkett well, although we will miss Alan Johnson and Malcolm Wicks, who showed signs of genuinely open minds on the Pensions Crisis and were taking our proposal for a citizen's pension seriously.
I beg to move, as an amendment to the Address, at end add - 'but regret that the Gracious Speech does not contain measures to address the major challenges the British economy now faces to ensure its competitiveness in the light of unprecedented global competition; further regret the absence of measures to bridge the skills gap so that the UK has the right skills for tomorrow's economy; deplore the failure to include in the Gracious Speech a credible programme for cutting the burden of regulation which stifles business and holds back entrepreneurs; condemn the absence of measures to ensure value for taxpayers' money in order to improve public services and remove the need for further tax increases; and further regret the absence of measures in the Gracious Speech to tackle the Pensions Crisis to which Government policy has contributed, or to encourage savings to help give people greater security and dignity in retirement.
There is also a pensions challenge - can Britain solve the Pensions Crisis, and give millions of people security in their retirement?
I point out that the commission is especially critical of the pension credit because it acts as a disincentive to saving, and one cannot solve the Pensions Crisis if there is a disincentive to saving.
We need to solve the Pensions Crisis and encourage people to save, and there he sits - the road block to reform.
Working longer must be part of the answer to the Pensions Crisis that we face.
I have the amendment that we are debating, and I shall stick to the issues that it deals with, such as the skills gap, the burden of regulation, public services improvement, the Pensions Crisis and encouraging saving.
Listening tothe hon. Member for Glasgow, North-West (John Robertson) and his call for a national consensus on pensions should prove to anyone who had any residual doubts that the Government have already created a Pensions Crisis and are looking for allies to get themselves out of it.
However, they are not in the best position to balance the revenue- raising imperative against the wider issues raised by the Pensions Crisis.
If the Chancellor had resisted the temptation to attack what were then healthy pension schemes, envied by the world, how much less serious and damaging would the Pensions Crisis be today.
It may be cold comfort to those who retired and emigrated many years ago, but we think that it would strike a fair balance between the financial pressures of the Pensions Crisis in this country and the injustice felt by people living abroad whose pensions are frozen.
We are all aware of the Crisis in Pensions - the problems for defined-benefit pension schemes, many pensioners falling into serious poverty and so forth - but linked to it and equally important has been the crisis in savings.
These are the bigger issues that need to be resolved if Britain is to tackle the Pensions Crisis that it faces.
I do not think that my right hon. and learned Friendthe Member for Kensington and Chelsea (Sir Malcolm Rifkind) suggested that the Bill is the answer to every aspect of the Pensions Crisis.
It is not a complete solution to the Pensions Crisis in this country, but it is part of the solution and should be welcomed as such, instead of being thrown out because it does not address all the issues.
For eight years, the Government have presided over a Pensions Crisis of unprecedented proportions and a collapse in savings.
There has been much talk about a Pensions Crisis.
"The Pensions Commission was very clear in its first report last year that there was not a Pensions Crisis now.
I also declare my interest as a citizen of this country in not having to wait another 30 years for a government who will take the tough decisions that we desperately need to solve our looming Pensions Crisis.
That is why we have this opportunity to make changes to ensure that we do not have a Pensions Crisis in the long-term future.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that there was a Pensions Crisis.
I agree with something else thatthe hon. Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron) said recently - that Tory pensions policy would not solve the Pensions Crisis.
The Pensions Commission was very clear in its first report last year that there is not currently a Pensions Crisis, and it made that clear again this morning.
The man who created the Pensions Crisis is the very same man who is standing in the way of providing a solution.
If ever there was a big issue that this Government have failed to face it is the coming Pensions Crisis.
The theme of older workers is increasingly being raised, partly because of the Pensions Crisis and partly because of the Green Paper on welfare which was welcomed this week.
To try to say that the Pensions Crisis is to do with the previous Tory Government is ridiculous.
If that is the Chancellor's response to the Pensions Crisis, he should say so.
First, my hon. Friendthe Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond), who spoke from the Front Bench, made the fair point that the Chancellor of the Exchequer must accept that the solution to the Pensions Crisis will cost public funds a great deal of money.
The lack of attention to the Pensions Crisis, which has been growing over the past eight years, is one of the major failings of this Government.
Perhaps the Secretary of State attacked the previous Conservative Government because he is a little concerned about the Pensions Crisis that this Government have created.
The Government have presided over the Pensions Crisis for something like nine years.
The Pensions Commission was clear that there is not a Pensions Crisis, but it identified about 9 million people who were not saving enough for their retirement.
One must remember that the Pension Commissioner's assessment is that the Pension Crisis is not one of today.
With national pensions day ahead of us this Saturday, and the Government's response to the Turner report eagerly awaited in the spring, if the Government get this wrong and send the wrong signal about the security and safety of pension funds to the British public, there is a real danger that efforts to address Britain's Pension Crisis by promoting pension saving will be fatally undermined before they even get off the starting blocks.
The Budget failed to deal with the most glaring issue before us today: the Crisis in Pensions.
He could have tackled the unfair tax system; he could have made the environment a priority; he could have faced up to the Pensions Crisis; and he could have addressed the problem of personal debt.
He can go on trying to pretend that he is going to solve the Pensions Crisis in Budgets where he mentions Lord Turner and Budgets where he avoids mentioning him - this Budget was one of those - but he will never succeed in achieving the admirable goals that we share across this House if he continues to try to run the country from a desk in Whitehall.
He knows as well as I do that the stability we now enjoy is a product of the hard-won supply-side reforms of the 1980s and the economic policies of the early 1990s, and that the Pensions Crisis of which he rightly spoke is entirely the making of the present Government.
The right hon. Member for North Tyneside also talked about Labour's responsibility for dealing with the Pensions Crisis that has been created.
The Pensions Crisis is making people worried, which will cause the savings ratio to increase, and consumer demand will not come back.
I want to talk about the Pensions Crisis, future and present, the manufacturing crisis, past and present - it may not have much of a future, as the right hon. Gentleman has argued - and the energy crisis that is looming on the horizon.
There is not a word on the Pensions Crisis brought about by the Chancellor's £5 billion pension tax and his extension of means-testing.
I was glad that the Treasury Committee took evidence about it, but I would say that it underestimated the significance of the Pensions Crisis.
He has caused what must be described as a Pension Crisis.
In its report last November, the commission made it clear that there was no immediate "Pensions Crisis", but that there would be one if we did not act soon.
People talk a lot about the Pensions Crisis, but there was a genuine pensions crisis when we came to office - the crisis of pensioner poverty, which was at unprecedented levels and grew throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
I beg to move, as an amendment to the Address, at the end of the Question to add: 'but humbly regret that the Gracious Speech does not contain measures to address Britain's declining productivity growth since 1997; deplore the absence of measures to give the UK the right skills to take advantage of new global opportunities; further regret the absence of strong and binding measures to tackle climate change and environmental degradation; condemn the absence of measures to ensure real improvements in the public services and greater value for money for taxpayers; and further regret the absence of measures in the Gracious Speech to tackle the Pensions Crisis to which Government policy has contributed.
After nine long years, this Government are finally tackling the Pensions Crisis.
We are in the 10th year of a Pensions Crisis, largely created and certainly made worse by the Government.
There is a Pensions Crisis and there is a savings crisis and we must do something about that.
One reason I was especially interested to join the Work and Pensions Committee when I came to the House was that, during the last general election, a great many people raised their concerns with me about the Pensions Crisis developing under this Government.
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the £540 billion combined deficit figure from the actuaries is predicated on wind-up and transfer into bonds, and we happen to be living through a gilt bubble, where prices are very high because of the Pension Crisis and regulatory pressure to go into bonds?
There is a Pensions Crisis, although I accept it is not caused entirely by the particular tax change that is at the centre of our debate - I shall come back to that point.
There is no doubt that the Turner report raised a number of issues about the Pensions Crisis.
He had abandoned the point that the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge just made, and was making the point that the dividend tax credit cut had somehow affected stock market value, and that that was why there was a Pensions Crisis.
The use of terms such as "Pension Crisis" and the wording of today's Opposition motion, however brief it is, further undermine confidence in a pensions system that is still trying to recover from the likes of Maxwell, mis-selling and Equitable Life.
One reason why I was especially interested to join the Work and Pensions Committee when I came to the House was that, during the last general election, a great many people raised their concerns with me about the Pensions Crisis developing under this Government.
Secondly, several Members criticised pension holidays as a major contributor to the Pension Crisis.
In conclusion, there is a degree of consensus on the need to sort out the Current Pension Crisis and on what needs to be done to sort out state pensions and to restore the savings ratio and personal responsibility.
In conclusion, the Opposition decline to give a Second Reading to the Finance Bill because it fails to equip the UK to compete in the globalised world economy in the face of ever-increasing competition from China and India; it penalises enterprise and business start-ups and imposes higher tax rates and a more complicated tax system on small companies; it hits freelance workers with more bureaucracy and uncertainty; it does nothing to tackle the UK's worsening Pensions Crisis; it is ineffective in the fight against climate change; it fails to reverse the massive increase in complexity and instability that the Chancellor has inflicted on Britain's tax system; and it implements a Budget that was a tax con, not a tax cut.
The hon. Gentleman places considerable emphasis on pensions holidays as a contributory factor to the Pensions Crisis.
I beg to move, To leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: "this House declines to give a second reading to the Finance Bill because it fails to equip the UK to compete in the globalised world economy in the face of ever increasing competition from countries such as China and India, penalises small companies with higher tax rates and a more complicated tax system, hits freelance workers with more tax bureaucracy and uncertainty, involves yet further instability and U-turns on pensions policy and does nothing to tackle the UK's worsening Pensions Crisis, gives HM Revenue and Customs intrusive and disproportionate new powers of investigation, misses the opportunity to provide effective mechanisms for tackling climate change, fails to reform the UK tax law after years of erosion of its competitiveness, and fails to reverse the massive increase in complexity and instability which the Chancellor has inflicted on the tax system of the UK".
This instability serves only to heighten the Pensions Crisis in this country.
I wish to address two aspects of the amendment; the first relates to the so-called Pensions Crisis, and the second to tackling climate change.
In that context it is not right to talk about a Pensions Crisis - and it is bit rich coming from the official Opposition.
The reasoned amendment refers to a Pensions Crisis.
I am sure that the Paymaster General has the figures at her fingertips and will correct me if I am wrongbut, according to my recollection, in recent years, during the so-called Pensions Crisis referred to in the amendment, the amount in pension funds has moreor less doubled.
The hon. Gentleman raised the question of pensions on the basis of the Conservatives' amendment, which refers to a Pensions Crisis.
The amendment goes on to discuss the "U-turns on pensions policy" and the failure "to tackle the UK's worsening Pensions Crisis".
When the amendment states that the Bill "does nothing to tackle the UK's worsening Pensions Crisis", it perhaps overstates the case, but I have set out our suggestions and what the Government failed to do in the Budget speech in respect of pensions.
How does the hon. Lady get round the problem that if one removes a significant tax incentive to save for a pension, fewer people will save for pensions, and the Pensions Crisis will become even more serious?
As an old lag who has attended many debates on pensions over a long period - and perhaps I should state that I have a personal financial interest in the basic pension, which I have been receiving for some seven years now - I can recall a Pensions Crisis.
This is not the end of the Pensions Crisis - it is not even the beginning ofthe end - but this Bill may, at least, mark the end of the beginning.
It is good that the Government are addressing a Pensions Crisis to which, as my noble friend Lord Skelmersdale pointed out, they have themselves contributed.
Sadly, I believe the attitude of the young has got even worse as they have been subjected to the 24-hour media, showing that the so-called Pensions Crisis is no respecter of saving, and that a prudent approach to provision for retirement is probably a dead loss.
There will be a debate entitled "Access to NHS Services", followed by a debate entitled "Crisis in Pensions".
It is the issue in which, more than any other, the problems that this Government have created lie right at the Prime Minister's door - Our Pensions Crisis, not entirely made in No.
I beg to move, That this House notes the loss of public trust in the UK pension system caused by the continuing £5 billion per year stealth tax raid on pension funds, the winding up of 60,000 occupational pension schemes since 1997, the closure of two-thirds of remaining final salary pension schemes to new members and the acceleration of closures to new accruals by existing members; further notes the loss by 125,000 workers whose pension schemes have failed of some or all of their pensions and the poor performance of the Financial Assistance Scheme in supporting them and the growing concern about the disparity between pension expectations in the public and private sectors as well as the size of the unfunded public sector occupational pension liabilities faced by future taxpayers; and calls on the new Prime Minister to acknowledge his role in the Pensions Crisis and to take personal responsibility for the urgent task of restoring to millions of hard-working families the confidence to save for retirement.
It is the issue on which, more than any other, the problems that this Government have created lie right at the Prime Minister's door - Our Pensions Crisis, not entirely made in No.
If there has ever been a Crisis in Pensions, it was surely then.
I genuinely wish the new Ministers well in tackling the continuing Pensions Crisis.
The Opposition's original title for the debate was "Crisis in Pensions".
He argued that that would somehow contribute to the Pensions Crisis.
Today is an announcement of some Government money and a raid on orphan assets - we are not talking about public funds - that might otherwise have been used to address the Pensions Crisis.
The savings ratio this year hit a 40-year low, which will in turn exacerbate Our Pensions Crisis in years to come, a point I shall return to later.
I beg to move, as an amendment to the Address, at the end of the Question to add, 'but humbly regret that the Gracious Speech fails to set out a clear vision on the future of economic policy, contains no measures to develop Britain's competitiveness, includes proposals that will damage enterprise, and does not contain any measures to reduce youth unemployment and to make significant inroads into the number of people on benefits who could work; condemn the absence of measures to ensure real improvements in the public services to give people power over their lives and generate greater value for money for taxpayers; and further regret the absence of measures in the Gracious Speech to tackle the Pensions Crisis to which Government policy has contributed.
It is fundamentally an issue of confidence, which has been badly shaken by the Pensions Crisis.
Yesterday, the Secretary of State issued a press release warning of the danger of a future Pensions Crisis.
We are not addressing questions about the ability of the poor to pay into schemes - a concern that a number of Members have legitimately raised - and we are not addressing the failure to challenge our naive presumption that the market is a mechanism that will get us out of the Pensions Crisis, rather than take us into another one.
In it, he talked about the "nightmare of a future Pensions Crisis".
If consensus merely delivers ill-thought-out and poorly designed solutions to the Pensions Crisis, it is a force for ill and not for good.
In the eloquent words of Ros Altmann, who was a Government adviser before she helped the occupational pension scheme groups, we have a Pension Crisis today that could well become a pensioner crisis tomorrow, unless we address the issue of confidence in the pension system.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it would help address the growing Pensions Crisis by extending some employees' working lives and enabling them to contribute more money to their pension schemes, which was one of the key recommendations of the noble Lord, Lord Turner, in his review of pensions policy.
The Government took a relatively mature approach to the self-evident looming Pension Crisis.
Therefore, my first point in this debate is that we should seek to agree on the goal of a pensions policy, getting as much agreement between the parties as we conceivably can and, above all, seeking to avert a Pensions Crisis whereby many of those in retirement will be living in hardship.
If the Government were not to address the Pensions Crisis within a realistic financial context, we would have a financial catastrophe.
We find the same Crisis in Pensions.
Finally, let us remember that the Real Pensions Crisis is not in the public sector but in the private sector.
It is not unreasonable that many pensioners are wary of the provisions of private pensions having lost so much in past debacles, yet we are now treated as though we are responsible for the Pension Crisis.
Some might say that that indicates that there is a Pensions Crisis as people cannot afford to stop working.