Charles Walker calls on the Government to honour its pension commitments to those who choose to live overseas
Charles Walker calls on the Government to honour its pension commitments to those who have worked hard and made a contribution to this country, paid their national insurance and tax but choose to retire overseas. Where someone chooses to live should have no bearing on their pension entitlement.
Mr Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con)
I am grateful for being called to speak in this debate. I operate on the principle that I have a contract with my Government and my Government have a contract with me: I work hard; I pay national insurance and I pay my tax, and in return I get a pension. That is a very simple expectation. It shames this Government and successive Governments that they have failed to meet their obligation to people who have chosen to move overseas. As I said in an intervention, where someone chooses to live should have no bearing on their pension entitlement, and it is shameful that Governments continue to argue otherwise.
The Minister said—it was a reasonable debating point—that uprating such pensions would cost £500 million a year, but people are owed that money and have a realistic expectation of receiving it. It is not as though a group of angry, silver-haired men and women were demanding some cash without having made any contribution. They deserve this cash precisely because they have made a contribution. Is my hon. Friend the Member for Worthing West (Sir Peter Bottomley) seeking to intervene? He has suddenly lurched forward in his seat.
Sir Peter Bottomley
I was just agreeing with my hon. Friend.
Oh, that is excellent. It is always nice when someone agrees with me, particularly someone from my own side.
Now that the Minister has resumed his seat, I just want to say that he made great play in his speech of the issue of choice, in that pensioners have a choice about where they live. I am delighted that we have choices in this country—that is the wonderful thing about living in an open and free society—and that we can choose where we live and whom we associate with. However, choice cuts both ways, does it not? Choice also applies to Government. The Government absolutely have the choice to honour their promises to retired people who have made an enormous contribution to this country. Right now, the Government are choosing not to honour those commitments. I conclude this very short speech by saying that the Government should exercise their right to choose by actually choosing to do the right thing.