Finance (No. 4) Bill: 19th April 2012

Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
Will my hon. Friend give way?
Ben Gummer
I am so deeply tempted by my hon. Friend that I will give way to her.

Anna Soubry
I am sorry that I had to leave the Chamber for a short period, but I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend, who is making an important and thoughtful speech. However, I am sure that, like me, he will have received e-mails and letters from pensioners in his constituency who are worried that their real incomes are in some way being cut by this Government. What would he say, not only to the pensioners in his constituency, but to those in mine—and no doubt in many other constituencies—who are worried about their futures?

Ben Gummer
My hon. Friend is right in two senses. Everyone is concerned about their standard of living. That is the nature of recovering from this terrible recession, which has many causes. As a Government, we are in the position of having to make very difficult decisions. Again, it is a point of great pride to me that we are being brave enough to make those decisions and to spread the load throughout the entire taxpayer base. It is a matter of extraordinary difficulty, but the group that has been hit least so far by the savings, efficiencies and cuts that the Government have had to make has been pensioners, because they have benefited from the triple lock and a whole series of other interventions by the Government, and because they are not recipients of other benefits. As a result, this measure is probably the most modest incursion into pensioner income.