§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Deakins
I beg to move Amendment No. 2, in page 4, line 35, after 137 'substitution', insert 'of "seven" for "eight" and'.
This is a formal, technical amendment, consequential on a change made in Standing Committee A on 16th December 1976—referred to at columns 93–114 of the Official Report—when the Government suffered a minor defeat. In fact, I think that we had four minor defeats, one after another. However, the amendment merely puts something in order. I can give an explanation if the House wishes. Otherwise, I leave the matter at that.
§ Sir George Young (Ealing, Acton)
It would be churlish of me not to congratulate the Government on their wisdom in accepting the amendments wished on them in Committee on the subject of deferred increments. At that time there was support for this amendment from all sides in the Committee, which recognised the actuarial injustice meted out to those over 65 who continued to work. I am delighted that the Government have accepted these amendments, because this is the third time that I have tried to get the matter through the House. It is a question of third time lucky. However, in my enthusiasm in moving the amendments in Committee 1 forgot to table the consequential amendment that now appears on the Notice Paper as Government Amendment No. 2.
The Government have never denied the injustice to pensioners, but they have found a number of reasons for not doing something about it. In Committee they adduced a new reason, namely, that changing the rule would inconvenience the occupational pension schemes. I took the precaution of contacting a representative of the Legal and General Assurance Society on this subject to see whether this was so. Perhaps I may quote from the reply that I received from Mr. Robert Hardy, of Legal and General, who said,I have consulted with various colleagues and can confirm that this change can be accommodated comfortably within general present practice and will not cause any administrative difficulties.I hope, therefore, that that argument will not be put forward.
In Committee the Under-Secretary threatened hon. Members with "serious 138 political implications" if the amendment were carried. My hon. Friends and I look forward with eager anticipation to the collapse of the Government now that they have themselves accepted the amendment. I have cantered around this course many times. I do not propose to canter around it again. However, if the Government are to urge other institutions to give the public a square deal, it is important that they should do so themselves. In this case the Treasury and the Department of Health and Social Security have not given the public a square deal and have given those who have continued to work beyond the age of 65 a return of only 6½ per cent, on their money, whereas the Government have had to pay 13 per cent. or more to other sections of the community. This injustice is now recognised by the Government. They are putting it right, and I am delighted that they are doing so.
§ Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)
I congratulate the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young) on his being responsible for initiating this change and I congratulate the Government on accepting it. I hope that the nature of the change, despite the fact that it is a relatively small one, will get some notice in the Press, because it is important that those who are drawing their pension should recognise that they will now be getting a 7½p per cent. a year increment for deferring the taking of the pension, as against the old 6½ per cent. It is a small increase, but it is the extent of the increase which appears to be justifiable on actuarial grounds.
There is nothing more important than that those who wish to go on working after retirement should not feel discouraged from doing so, and anything which gives them their own money in full is very much to be welcomed.
§ Amendment agreed to.