HC Deb 20 February 1995 vol 255 c9
8. Mr. Simon Coombs

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what measures he is taking to make personal pensions more attractive to older people.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security (Mr. James Arbuthnot)

In the Pensions Bill, we are introducing age-related rebates for personal pensions to ensure that appropriate personal pensions are attractive over a broader age range.

Mr. Coombs

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Pensions Bill, which is now in another place, is firmly on course to enact the manifesto commitment of the Conservative party to make personal pensions more attractive across the full range of ages? Does he agree that, with the proposal in law, personal pensions will be attractive to people of all ages and that it will be in their interests to sustain their pensions throughout their lives?

Mr. Arbuthnot

The age-related rebates which we are phasing in will mean that most people will be attracted to maintaining their personal pensions throughout their working lives. They will also be able to choose when to buy an annuity up to the age of 75.

Mr. Chisholm

Does the Minister accept that one of the most unattractive features of pensions for many older women is the diminution of their pension rights following divorce? Given that seven studies have been conducted into the matter already, why are the Government insisting on a further study? Why will they not accept the amendment that has been tabled in another place to ensure the equal division of pension rights following divorce?

Mr. Arbuthnot

The hon. Gentleman will know that the Pensions Law Review Committee said that this was an exceptionally complicated matter. The Government recognise that and, as a result, we have accepted the recommendation of the committee that further work should be done. The research will be available towards the end of the year. A debate is taking place in another place this afternoon on the matter, and no doubt the hon. Gentleman will go along to listen to it.

Dr. Spink

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the average total net income of pensioners grew by 50 per cent. between 1979 and 1992? Does that not show how much the Government care for pensioners? What targets does my hon. Friend have for that figure in the coming years?

Mr. Arbuthnot

My hon. Friend is right, but I do not have a limit on targets. Pensioners will do very much better in the next few decades. We have more funded pension provision than any other country in the European Union. The proposals of the Opposition would threaten that very good position.

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