Previous Section Index Home Page

On that point, as on many other points, I can agree with the conclusions of the Pensions Commission.

Mr. Hoban: Given the consensus that the Economic Secretary mentioned and the way he warmly commended the conclusions of the Pensions Commission, does he also agree with the views of Lord Turner expressed in the debate on pensions in the House of Lords two weeks ago?

Ed Balls: As I said, we are looking to forge a progressive consensus and I look forward to doing so. It should be possible to have a consensus that is progressive if we can involve most Members of the House—although perhaps not all. I quoted the Pensions Commission in that context as an example of one area where we can reach a consensus. On the particular opinions that Lord Turner set out in the House of Lords, I disagree with him and will set out why during the course of my speech.

26 Jun 2007 : Column 281

Mr. Soames rose—

Ed Balls: I am sorry to disturb the hon. Gentleman. I see that he has sprung back into life. I am happy to take his intervention.

Mr. Soames: The hon. Gentleman does not have to apologise at all. He is boring us all sideways as it is. Just for the convenience of the House of Commons, would he have the good manners to define for all of us who sit on this side of the House what exactly a progressive consensus is?

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I do not see that in any of the amendments. Perhaps the Minister will continue.

Ed Balls: I will therefore hesitate to attempt to give the hon. Gentleman a definition either of progressive consensus or of good manners.

Mr. Dunne: Will the Economic Secretary kindly enlighten us on another matter? When talking about the way in which the Government are approaching the issue, he referred to principles. What is his view of principle 6 from the Financial Services Authority, which is entitled “Treating customers fairly”? What about pensioners who die the day before they reach their 75th birthday? Their pension estate is effectively untaxed. Then there are those who, unfortunately for them, die shortly afterwards. The tax rate that applies varies between 0 and 82 per cent. How is that fair?

Ed Balls: If I can make some progress, I will explain why the approach we are taking to ASPs is right and why it would be quite wrong to go down the route of the amendments. I would point out to the hon. Gentleman that the vast majority of pensioners have bought an annuity well before the age of 75 and would never be able to consider the option of an ASP in any case. It is only those with the largest pension pots who would be able to consider doing so. [ Interruption. ] From a sedentary position, the hon. Member for Tatton (Mr. Osborne) asked why we introduced ASPs. He knows very well that in the Committee on the Finance Bill in 2004, the then Financial Secretary said:

We thus introduced a way of allowing people with principled religious objections to save in a pension after the age of 75.

10.45 pm

As we have discussed many times in Committee, it is impossible in tax law to distinguish between people with different religious convictions. More importantly, in the year or so after we introduced ASPs, it became increasingly clear that people were using ASP vehicles as a way of substantially avoiding tax. We thus acted in last year’s Budget to tighten the laws on inheritance tax to prevent people from using ASPs as a vehicle for passing on tax advantage for inheritance. Even after those changes, such practices continued, so we acted in the pre-Budget report to protect properly the principle that pensioners’ tax relief was provided to produce
26 Jun 2007 : Column 282
income in retirement, rather than to give a tax advantage to inheritance. That is what we are doing through the ASP changes in the Bill.

Our application of the principles has been consistent. Furthermore, we have consistently demonstrated that when people are trying to get round the principles by giving a tax advantage to inheritance, we are willing to act decisively, as we did in the pre-Budget report. We have made it clear that an annuity is the best way for the vast majority of individuals to secure an income in retirement. An ASP allows those with religious objections to the pooled mortality risk in annuities to have a guaranteed lifetime income without an annuity and without a tax advantage to inheritance. While the ASP is not a mainstream product—it is blind to religion—the Bill allows a small minority, if they are well advised, to continue to use ASPs to draw an income in retirement without buying an annuity, but only in a way that is consistent with our principle that pension tax relief should not be used to give a tax favour to inheritance.

The Conservative amendments would replace the proposed minimum income for ASPs of 55 per cent. with an amount that would substantially jeopardise our objectives for ASPs. As I said, the purpose of tax relief is to encourage and support pension saving to produce an income in retirement. The danger of the official Opposition’s proposals arises from the specific income from pension savings that they specify must be delivered. Under those proposals, a person with an ASP fund worth £1 million would receive an income that was 10 times lower than that allowed under the Bill. Someone with a large pension pot would have to take a small income and would thus have a large tax advantage pot to pass on to their successors. On the other hand, a person with a much smaller pension fund—£50,000, for example—would draw an income that could well lead the fund to run out much earlier than would be sensible. The proposals would put the most vulnerable in a dangerous and disadvantaged position, while they would give the richest a substantial tax advantage to inheritance.

Let me cite a tax adviser who responded to our announcement in the pre-Budget report. Mr. Tom McPhail, the head of research at financial advisers Hargreaves Lansdown, told the Financial Times on 22 March that the changes in the Bill mean that the

The problem with the Opposition amendments is that they would reopen that door and allow some of the £16 billion of tax relief to be used to the advantage of inheritance tax planning. There might be some Conservative Members who would think that that would be a step forward, but I think it would represent a substantial step away from the progressive consensus that Labour Members wish to reach. I hope that the hon. Member for Fareham will not attempt to advantage inheritance tax planning, so I urge him to withdraw the amendment, rather than trying to waste taxpayers’ money through breaking our principles and encouraging inheritance tax planning.

Mr. Soames: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. You refused to allow the Economic Secretary to define a progressive consensus, but the flim-flam
26 Jun 2007 : Column 283
argument that he has recently constructed to oppose the amendment is wholly based on a progressive consensus, and no one on this side of the House has the remotest idea what he is talking about.

Madam Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order for me. However, following this debate there will be a debate on Third Reading, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman will wish to catch my eye.

Mr. Hoban: The reality is that in the Finance Act 2004 the Government let the genii out of the bottle. They introduced changes that led people to think that ASPs were an appropriate form of tax planning and of securing an income in their retirement. The Government legislated for that. Only last year, in the Finance Act 2006, the Government introduced changes to tighten up the rules, and this year they have come back and tried to restrict ASPs to make them less flexible and less attractive to people as a means of providing flexibility in retirement.

The problem with the Government’s approach is that they are out of step with the desire of most people in this country to have greater control over their pension funds. They are out of step with the people of this country who want choice —[ Interruption. ]

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. The House must come to order.

Mr. Hoban: The Government are out of step with people who want to have choice in their lives, who do not want to be patronised or directed by the Government as to how they use their pension funds in retirement. On that basis, I urge my colleagues to vote in favour of amendment No. 44.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 149, Noes 324.
Division No. 155]


Afriyie, Adam
Amess, Mr. David
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Clark, Greg
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Field, Mr. Mark
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Mr. Paul

Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Grayling, Chris
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Horam, Mr. John
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Main, Anne
Maples, Mr. John
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, Mr. David
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, David
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Tredinnick, David
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wright, Jeremy
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Mark Lancaster and
Mr. David Evennett

Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, Danny
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barrett, John
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brennan, Kevin

Brooke, Annette
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Caton, Mr. Martin
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Durkan, Mark
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Don
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Helen
Griffiths, Nigel
Gwynne, Andrew
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hermon, Lady
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Holmes, Paul
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Ann
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kramer, Susan
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Lammy, Mr. David
Laws, Mr. David
Lazarowicz, Mark

Leech, Mr. John
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGrady, Mr. Eddie
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mulholland, Greg
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
Olner, Mr. Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Price, Adam
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Robertson, John
Rogerson, Dan
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Rowen, Paul
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob
Russell, Christine
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Smith, Sir Robert
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Matthew
Teather, Sarah
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thurso, John
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Webb, Steve
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wishart, Pete

Wood, Mike
Woodward, Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Liz Blackman and
Mr. Ian Cawsey
Question accordingly negatived.
26 Jun 2007 : Column 284

26 Jun 2007 : Column 285

26 Jun 2007 : Column 286

26 Jun 2007 : Column 287

Schedule 20

Pension schemes etc: miscellaneous

Amendment made: No. 33, page 235, line 46, at end insert—

‘(2A) In paragraph 1(6) (power to provide that certain lump sums are to be treated as pension commencement lump sums), for “(1)(c) and (e)” substitute “(1)(a) and (c)”.’.— [Mr. Timms.]

Schedule 27


Amendments made: No. 30, page 293, line 17, leave out ‘the words “, or as a business transfer-out,” and’.

No. 31, page 295, line 44, leave out ‘84(2) to (6)’ and insert ‘84(2), (3), (5) and (6)’.

No. 32, page 296, line 14, leave out ‘17(5)’ and insert ‘17(4A) and (5)’.— [Mr. Timms.]

Order for Third Reading read.

Next Section Index Home Page