Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden): Surely a Minister who is a member of a Government who extract?5 billion a year from pensions should not talk about pension robbery. Will he explain why, if stakeholder pensions are good for those earning more than ?10,000 a year, those earning less than that will be entitled to the same rebate and not allowed to opt out for a stakeholder pension?
Mr. Rooker: That is incredibly confusing, and shows that the former pensions Minister has not followed the debate. Stakeholder pensions will be simple. Even the Pru says:
“The new stakeholder pension is simpler than any pension yet.”
They will be widespread and safe, and available to everybody. As I have said, the target group comprises those on moderate earnings of between ?10,000 and ?20,000 a year who are not in occupational pension schemes and for whom, by and large, there is no other provision. Stakeholder pensions are available right up the income scale and, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, are not work-related.
We have repeatedly said that it is up to those who earn below ?10,000 a year to decide what to do, but that, all things being equal, they will be better off remaining in the earnings-related pension scheme, which is to be modified next year to become the state second pension, than they would be in a funded scheme. Those without earnings, be they children, non-working spouses or others, are entitled to join a stakeholder scheme.