§ 25. Mr. Roy Hughes
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the level of state pensions in other European Union countries relative to those in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Heald
Most other EU countries have wholly earnings-related pension schemes, so there is a wide variation in the rate of pension paid to individuals. This can mean that low earners receive low pensions. Direct comparisons of the level of state pensions do not take account of health care, occupational pensions and safety net benefits, which are all significant factors in the provision for pensioners in the United Kingdom. The relative position of state pension provision is further distorted by differences in the cost of living.