“FREEZE” OF PENSIONS
Second Blow at Those Already Hit
From Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, M.P.
Sir—During the economic debate in the House of Commons on Nov. 30 I drew attention to paragraph 42 of the latest Government White Paper dealing with the period of “severe restraint” from January to July of next year.
This paragraph deals with occupational pensions and virtually tells employers not to increase these pensions. So although pensioners have had the buying power of their pensions considerably reduced by inflation—much of which is the direct result of Labour's policies—the Government are stopping employers from making any compensating increases.
Already the “wages freeze” has hit badly those whose pensions are based on, say, the last three years of salary; they will suffer not for six months or a year but for the rest of their lives. Now comes this latest blow. I repeat what I said in the House—that if firms want to pay increased pensions they should do so, and if the Government do not like it they can make an order, so making it quite clear where the liability lies.
In winding up the debate Mr. Michael Stewart said that the matter would be discussed with the National Association of Pension Funds. So one can only hope that the Government will have second thoughts.
It is ironical that a party which at the General Election promised a better deal for pensioners and the elderly generally should be acting in such a rigid and inflexible way. Labour showed the same inflexibility over the selective employment tax which applies to employed persons over pensionable age—and, incidentally, the disabled—as well as the rest of the employed population. We pointed out that this would hamper their employment prospects, but we were outvoted.
House of Commons.