Tory leader Michael Howard has brought back veteran Tory accountant David Heathcoat-Amory to work on the team whose main task will be outlining a Conservative solution to the pensions crisis.
He joins two other accountant MPs on the shadow ministers’ list. Mark Hoban retains his post as a shadow education minister. He will be joined on the education team by Nick Gibb.
Heathcoat-Amory told Accountancy Age that he hopes to be shadow pensions minister in his role as deputy to former defence secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who returned to the Commons last week after a period in the political wilderness. However, the duties of members of Sir Malcolm’s team have yet to be decided.
Heathcoat-Amory is a former paymaster general in John Major’s government and was shadow trade and industry secretary until 2001. ‘I am glad to be back,’ he said. ‘I hope to be doing pensions. It is a very technical subject, but something I do know something about. It is a big financial issue facing the government.’
Commenting on reports that work and pensions secretary David Blunkett favours compulsory savings, he said: ‘That would be a tax. You have to persuade people to save, not compel them.’ Sir Malcolm said Blunkett had earlier made a remarkable concession in a BBC radio broadcast comparing chancellor Gordon Brown’s removal of £5bn a year tax credits from pension schemes with the pensions mis-selling scandal of the 1990s.
He said it was continuing every year, and urged Blunkett to persuade Brown to reverse the policy.
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