New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: In an answer a few moments ago, the Leader of the House referred to the Government's financial assistance schemes for people who have lost a large part of their pensions. From successive business questions he will be familiar with the case of APW Electronics in Eastleigh, which is one of a very small number of firms – half a dozen, or fewer – that fall outside the scheme. Will he please arrange for a statement from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [David Blunkett], who I am pleased to see has just taken his place on the Front Bench? We feel that the Secretary of State will have more sympathy with those pensioners who have lost three quarters of their pension, given that he is in the fortunate position of having had an £18,000 pay-off when he resigned as Home Secretary only five months before rejoining the Cabinet.

[The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Geoffrey Hoon): I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman feels it necessary to make such a cheap political point [Hon. Members: Expensive] in the context of a serious and important issue in relation to his own constituents. If I may say so, he undermines his argument by coupling it with such an observation. I have dealt with the case on previous occasions. It is important that people should receive proper compensation. The Government scheme exists, but this particular case involves a company that apparently has the funding available to provide proper compensation. That is one of the basic qualifications. No one in the House would want to see taxpayers' money being distributed to pension schemes that were in other respects viable. I am sure all hon. Members would stand by that.]