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Mr. Fallon: Will the Paymaster General give way?

Mr. Robinson: I shall give way in a moment, although I did not interrupt the hon. Gentleman in his speech. In all that he said, he made no attempt to discuss any of the points raised in the debate. I do not say that he acted discourteously, as he had other, less relevant, things to say.

The shadow Chancellor told us that he, personally, by some Herculean endeavour, had rebuilt savings in the 1980s. What happened in the 1980s is a sorry story. When he was in the Treasury in various guises, from 1986 to 1990--a full five-year period--we had a negative savings ratio in the household sector. The figure was -0.3 per cent. in 1986; -1.9 per cent. in 1987; -2.8 per cent. in 1988; -2.7 per cent. in 1989; and -0.4 per cent. in 1990.

Mr. Fallon rose--

Mr. Andrew Tyrie (Chichester) rose--

Mr. Robinson: I shall give way, but not to the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Tyrie) who was not here during the debate. Johnnies-come-lately do not get in; he should know that by now.

Mr. Fallon: Of all the organisations that the Paymaster General cited as giving some support to the Government's proposal, can he name one that says that the £50,000 limit should stay?

Mr. Robinson: We have held consultations with all of them. I do not know why the hon. Gentleman is smirking, as if he had said something terribly clever. If the previous Government had gone out to consultation, as we have, they would not have got into the frightful muddle that I shall talk about in a moment when the right hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. MacGregor) first launched PEPs.

Mr. Loughton: Will the Paymaster General give way?

Mr. Robinson: I will, because I know that the hon. Gentleman was here throughout the debate and did not get the chance to make his own speech.

Mr. Loughton: I am very grateful to the Paymaster General, but when he is quoting from authorities in the City, he should give the whole quotation. Richard Branson, to give the whole sentence, said:

3 Mar 1998 : Column 906

    "The £50,000 limit also sends the wrong signal to potential savers--it says that rules can be changed retrospectively."

Fidelity said of the £5,000 annual limit that it

    "represents a 53% reduction in the total tax-privileged investment . . . it removes an incentive for"--

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord): Order. That is far too long for an intervention.

Mr. Robinson: I had hoped that the hon. Gentleman, who is not usually short of words, would have something to say for himself, rather than reading. It was clearly a waste of time for me to give way.

I was dealing with the shadow Chancellor, who was so proud of his record in the 1980s; in fact, it was a terrible record on savings, as he well knows. It is worth recalling that stability is the key to economic growth and to savings. When he was in the Treasury, interest rates were at 10 per cent. and inflation at 5 per cent. in 1988. Interest rates peaked at 15 per cent. and inflation at nearly10 per cent. in 1990. That did not promote growth or stability or encourage savings. That is why we had negative savings rates in the last five years of the 1980s. That is not a record to be proud of.

The right hon. Member for South Norfolk, a former Chief Secretary, made a good contribution to the debate, but he did not tell us that the pension fund of which he is a director was fined £545,000 for mis-selling. He courteously informed me that he would have to leave before the end of the debate, but I wish that he was here to hear this, because he might have been able to tell us something about why, in that context, he recommended a light regulatory touch for the new system. We shall ensure that no such problems happen again, and we are consulting to that effect.

The right hon. Member for South Norfolk mentioned the problems that the Conservative Government had with the introduction of PEPs, and the number of goes that they needed to clear it up. They had a go when they introduced them in 1987; a go in 1988; and another go in 1989. They had to keep trying to simplify the rules and get rid of the anomalies, for the simple reason that they did not consult beforehand.

The right hon. Gentleman also mentioned kitemarking or benchmarking products, with a view to bringing down the costs of administration. That is a matter to which both Government and Opposition Members have alluded in a serious vein, and we are consulting on it. We are attracted by the concept, but we tend to favour benchmarking rather than kitemarking, as the latter might imply that the Government were totally committed to a given product. The hon. Member for Gosport (Mr. Viggers) spoke about that. It is a matter of interest, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will consider it in the Budget process.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Caplin) spoke with the background of much personal and professional experience. He pointed out exactly what had gone wrong in the mis-selling of pensions, and he is keen that we should not follow in the misbegotten, badly thought out footsteps of our predecessors.

The hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable) made a serious contribution and we hope that, when my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has decided on his proposals, we shall be able to secure his support in the Lobby on the new savings proposals. He was especially concerned, as

3 Mar 1998 : Column 907

were the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford and some of my right hon. and hon. Friends, about the savings disregard and the problems of those on benefit.

The problems go much wider than that, and it is ironic in the extreme that they should be raised by Conservative Members, who have a record second to none in living memory on means-tested benefits that cut right against the principle of people being able to work and save; working and saving is clearly the logical order of events.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Ms Keeble) that there are considerable advantages in the idea of a one-stop account. I hope that those will be contained in the decisions that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will make. Opposition Members attempted some ill-founded irony about how retailers could deal with those accounts, but the fact is that many retailers have already moved into financial products and are doing well and giving advice. The exact arrangements are a matter for them, but when companies such as Tesco, Safeway, Marks and Spencer and others--

Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot): Will the Paymaster General give way?

Mr. Robinson: No. The hon. Gentleman was not here during the debate and I have no intention of giving way to him, as I have very little time left and I want to make some more points.

Mr. Howarth: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Paymaster General said that I was not here during the debate. I was here for the opening speeches, after which I attended a Defence Export Services Organisation symposium with the Minister for Defence Procurement. I will not be told that I have not participated in this debate.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. That is not a point of order for the Chair. It is for the Minister himself to decide whether to give way.

Mr. Robinson: I am sure that the hon. Gentleman was spending his time very well with my noble Friend, but he was not here, so it is better for me to reply to those who spoke in the debate and attended it throughout.

The hon. Member for Gosport made several points, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, North (Mr. Cranston), who speaks with great erudition on these matters. He is one of the biggest contributors to Committees on finance-related Bills. I hope that he will participate in more this year. His remark about Lord Lawson's purpose in introducing PEPs was one of the most perceptive of the debate. My hon. Friend is a keen observer of such matters and realises the motivation behind the introduction of PEPs. Lord Lawson introduced them not as an incentive to save or to increase aggregate savings, as has been claimed, but as a way to spread share ownership. That is a welcome objective, but it has nothing to do with savings.

The main issue is stability. We have acted on tax credits and on advance corporation tax. We have introduced a deficit reduction plan and a code of fiscal stability. We

3 Mar 1998 : Column 908

have reintroduced the golden rule. Which of those measures, if any, do the Opposition support, or would they repeal them? They should come clean. Would they repeal the provisions of the Bank of England Bill? Would they return to the imputation system of corporation tax? Would they reintroduce advance corporation tax or tax credits? All those measures are intended to have long-term effects, and they will generate savings.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:--

The House divided: Ayes 142, Noes 329.*

*[This Division was incorrectly recorded. See Col. 962]

Division No. 187
[7 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baldry, Tony
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burns, Simon
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Colvin, Michael
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Dafis, Cynog
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fallon, Michael
Forsythe, Clifford
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodlad, Rt Hon Sir Alastair
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mon)
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacKay, Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Maginnis, Ken
Major, Rt Hon John
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Ruffley, David
St Aubyn, Nick
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walker, Cecil
Wardle, Charles
Waterson, Nigel
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Wilkinson, John
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. John Whittingdale and
Mr. John M. Taylor.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allan, Richard
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Ashton, Joe
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Paul
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Byers, Stephen
Cable, Dr Vincent
Caborn, Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chidgey, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fearn, Ronnie
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Fyfe, Maria
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Norman A
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Gorrie, Donald
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harris, Dr Evan
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Home Robertson, John
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Adam
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Keetch, Paul
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)
Kidney, David
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Liddell, Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McLeish, Henry
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Marek, Dr John
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meale, Alan
Michael, Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Milburn, Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Mrs Diana
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pope, Greg
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, Nick
Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Rt Hon George
(Hamilton S)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Sarwar, Mohammad
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Stevenson, George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stott, Roger
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tyler, Paul
Vis, Dr Rudi
Wallace, James
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Willis, Phil
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Graham Allen and
Mr. John McFall.

Question accordingly negatived.

3 Mar 1998 : Column 911

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Mr. Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


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