HC Deb 23 April 1996 vol 276 c190
10. Mr. Brazier

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to provide for the effects of the increasing number of old people and declining number of people of working age. [24678]

Mr. Lilley

The number of people over current pension ages is set to rise from 10.4 million now to 15.8 million by 2030. That would have placed an excessive burden on the working population, with a ratio of one pensioner for every 2.1 people of working age. By equalising the state pension age at 65, we shall have ensured a more sustainable ratio of 2.6 workers for each pensioner by 2030.

Mr. Brazier

Is not the United Kingdom in vastly better shape to meet this challenge than other parts of Europe because of the £600 billion that we have invested in private sector pension schemes? I urge my hon. Friend to look hard at the Goode recommendations and other possible measures to protect those precious funds from the Robert Maxwells of the world.

Mr. Lilley

My hon. Friend is right: we are better placed than most other countries in Europe to meet the pensions burden of the next century because we have invested some £600 billion in occupational and personal pension schemes. That is not just more than any other country in Europe, it is more than all the other countries in Europe put together. It means that we can face the future without the crippling burden of taxation that they will have to put up with. We have tried to strengthen confidence in occupational schemes, which was damaged by Robert Maxwell—a Labour Member of Parliament and the only socialist who has ever taken a serious interest in private pension schemes. [Interruption.]

Madam Speaker

Order. The House must come to order, as it is much too noisy. That is unfair to hon. Members who are putting questions.