15 MPs rebel on pensions lifeboat fund

FIFTEEN Labour MPs rebelled and voted with the Opposition in the Commons last night over proposals for a lifeboat fund to help 125,000 people who lost their pensions when their companies went bust.

By Graham Dines

FIFTEEN Labour MPs rebelled and voted with the Opposition in the Commons last night over proposals for a lifeboat fund to help 125,000 people who lost their pensions when their companies went bust.

Before the vote on an amendment to the Pensions Bill, some would-be rebels were wooed back by a last-minute concession from John Hutton's Department of Work and Pensions, under which the existing Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) will be extended to cover members of schemes that began winding up between 1997 and 2005.

With Chancellor Gordon Brown's announcement in the Budget of a quadrupling to £8 billion of the money earmarked for the FAS, this meant those affected should receive 80% of their core expected pensions, said Mr Hutton.


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Urging the Prime Minister to give his backing to the lifeboat fund - jointly tabled by Tories, Liberal Democrats and some Labour MPs including former social security minister Frank Field - Tory leader David Cameron said the scheme had so far provided help to only about 1,000 people.

Under the Opposition proposals, the initial cost of the bail-out would be met by a Treasury loan, to be paid back over the years from unclaimed pension assets within the industry.

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The 15 Labour rebels were Frank Cook (Stockton North), Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North), David Drew (Stroud), Frank Field (Birkenhead), Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent Central), Kate Hoey (Vauxhall), Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North), John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington), Michael Meacher (Oldham West & Royton), Gordon Prentice (Pendle), Alan Simpson (Nottingham South), Gisela Stuart (Birmingham Edgbaston), Robert Wareing (Liverpool West Derby), Mike Wood (Batley & Spen), and Dr Tony Wright (Cannock Chase)

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