UK - The government has denied the Pensions Bill will be scrapped to make way for new laws to ban fox hunting.
Pensions minister Malcolm Wicks told MPs the government was “determined” to see the Bill receive Royal Assent in November and make its way on to the statute books.
Wicks dismissed reports that the government was contemplating dumping the Bill to make way for a hunting ban which would placate backbenchers.
Wicks said: “The government and our supporters in the House are absolutely determined to ensure that the Pensions Bill receives Royal Assent.
“I hope members on both sides of the House will ensure that is done so that, among other things, the Pension Protection Fund will be up and running in April next year.”
And prime minister Tony Blair also indicated the Pensions Bill was safe. He said: “My view remains the same, which is that we should take forward House of Lords reform, but that is unrelated to any current issues before the Lords.”
National Association of Pension Funds chief executive Christine Farnish said it would be political suicide for the government to drop the Pensions Bill.
“I cannot believe that any government would dare to say that foxes are more important than pensioners,” she said.
“With other schemes going bust and the huge political embarrassment there would be if there was not a PPF, the government cannot afford to drop it.”
Liberal Democrat pension spokesman Lord Oakeshott agreed. “It would be a very strange set of priorities if banning hunting would be deemed more important than working out the pensions crisis. I cannot really believe that would happen.”
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