Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Labour Wins NO Vote on Pension Bill Amendment.. Yet Another Reason NOT to Vote Labour at the Next Election

During PMs Question time today David Cameron asked about the 125,000 people whose occupational pension schemes had collapsed. He said he was asking in a "genuinely cross-party way" for the prime minister to look at amendments to the Pension Bill that would give victims more compensation.

Mr Blair's response was that the chancellor had upped the scheme to £8bn, but said he did not know if they could afford to make a further commitment, but it would be looked into in a review. He said it was not responsible to make the commitment at this stage. Not responsible? As Mr Cameron pointed the budget changes did not help people who had already reached retirement age, some were dying and would not get their money. He said: "Only about 1,000 people have been helped. The financial assistance scheme isn't working." He said the government had to act now. Mr. Blair, voting no to the amendment to the pension bill is what is truly irresponsible.
What about your responsibility to the people who made you Prime Minister and are now suffering?

If we needed one more reason to NOT vote for Labour at the next general election, here it is. Is it surprising that Labour is not offering additional assistance to people who lost their pensions? No. But it is heartbreaking. These people who Labour so easily dismissing by are the people who voted for the party at the last election. After being let down by Labour will they vote for the party again? I hope not. Blair's government made many promises but has actually followed through on very few.The government has defeated the amendment to the Pension Bill to give more help to people whose occupational pension schemes have collapsed. This amendment, supported by Tories, Liberal Democrats and 15 Labour MPs including 5 ex Ministers was defeated by 22 votes.

Among the fifteen Labour MPs who backed the amendment were party leadership candidates Michael Meacher and John McDonnell.

During the debate, pensions minister James Purnell said: "The government should not write a blank cheque but organise a remedy."

Ministers have previously pledged an expansion of the current Financial Assistance Scheme to help about 125,000 victims.

Last month, Chancellor Gordon Brown announced its funding would be increased from £2bn to £8bn and it would cover everyone who lost all or part of their pensions between January 1997 and April 2005. It will offer a financial "safety net" to members of about 660 company pension schemes that were closed while insolvent before 2005, when new protection came in.

The criticism is that the Financial Assistance Scheme is operating too slowly and that thousands of people who have applied for payments may have to wait years. In the Commons, Mr Purnell announced a concession to critics on the Labour backbenches which, he said, should help a further 8,000 people whose schemes began winding up between January 1 1997 and April 5 2005. This would happen "where a compromise agreement is in place and where enforcing the debt against the employer would have forced the employer into insolvency".
He added: "We estimate this will benefit an extra 8,000 people, members of some 15 schemes".

Shadow work and pensions secretary Philip Hammond said: "If we are going to have a solution to these problems we have got to recognise that we are all in this together. "There has to be a sharing of their pain."

Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman David Laws said: "Those who have lost their pensions will not forgive MPs who do not back a fair compensation package." Nor should they. Why would the British Public support a MP who has "hung them out to dry."

1 comment:

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