Derby Telegraph Column

As published in the Derby Telegraph, 21st June 2013

We’ve had some encouraging news recently on the economy, with unemployment falling and 1.3 million jobs having been created in the private sector since the election. We also saw the service and manufacturing sectors grow at the fastest rate in a year, and a return of the construction industry to growth. This is great news.

In Parliament on Tuesday, I had the pleasure of welcoming the new single-tier state pension included in the Pensions Bill. Pensions are as complicated as they are important, and the Government is doing much to make this area a little more understandable. The Bill contains provisions to cap charges for schemes where members are auto-enrolled. This is a welcome step towards stopping excessive charges.

There is still much more that needs to be done to ensure all pension savers are protected. I would strip the Financial Conduct Authority of responsibility for regulating pension schemes – it has plenty to do dealing with banks and the rest of the financial sector to give pensions the priority they need. The Pensions Regulator is far better placed.

We also need to take action to ensure people get a better deal when taking out an annuity when they retire. Too many people take the one offered by their pension fund provider rather than shopping around.

On Wednesday, we saw the Chancellor deliver his Mansion House speech, in which he outlined how he would continue in his battle to return the UK banking industry from rescue to recovery and the way ahead for the partly state-owned banks. His three objectives will guide the Government’s approach to these banks: to maximise their economic support; get the best value for money for the taxpayer; and return them to private ownership, once they’re in a healthy enough state.

Having been a member of the Banking Reform Bill Committee, I was able to scrutinise the Government’s work on banking regulation. The banking sector is integral to the UK economy and we cannot afford to get it wrong as the previous administration did – we’re still paying the price.

That’s why it was encouraging to see the Chancellor and the Prime Minister say that the Government welcomes the report by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.

The Government has said that it will accept the proposals on new criminal sanctions for bankers who are reckless, and cancelling bonuses when a bank is bailed out. It will publish its formal response just before the summer recess.

On July 5, Conservative MPs will vote for a Bill that will allow the British people a real say on our future in the European Union. The proposal is for an in/out referendum on the EU, following renegotiations, to be held no later than 2017.

We can’t get this through without the support of either our Coalition partners or the Labour Party.
This is a cross-party campaign so, whether or not you support the Conservatives, I urge you to sign up at www.letbritaindecide.com.