State Pensions: Canada Free Trade Agreement Debate

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Department: Department for Work and Pensions

State Pensions: Canada Free Trade Agreement

Lord Thomas of Gresford Excerpts
Wednesday 18th October 2023

(8 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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Asked by
Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford
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To ask His Majesty’s Government whether they intend to take steps to index United Kingdom state pensions to inflation for those entitled to them living in Canada, as requested by the government of that country in order to facilitate the proposed new free trade agreement.

Viscount Younger of Leckie Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con)
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My Lords, state pensions are not in the scope of the negotiations on a free trade agreement with Canada. The UK state pension is payable worldwide to those who meet the qualifying conditions, without regard to nationality. The amount is based on an individual’s national insurance record. UK state pensions are uprated overseas only where there is a legal requirement to do so. The Government have no plans to change this policy.

Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD)
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My Lords, the Canadian Government say that, over the past 30 years, they have made repeated efforts to persuade the UK Government to do what they do for their own citizens: to index the UK pensions of UK retirees who are resident in Canada. On what principle do the Government distinguish between our pensioners in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and certain Caribbean Commonwealth countries and those whose UK pensions are not frozen—in the USA, for example, and, as reinforced in the recent Brexit trade agreement, in the 27 countries in the EU?

Viscount Younger of Leckie Portrait Viscount Younger of Leckie (Con)
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The rate of contribution paid has never earned entitlement to indexation of pensions payable abroad. This reflects the fact that the UK scheme is designed primarily for those living in the UK. In drawing up expenditure plans for pensioner benefits, the Government believe that their responsibility is primarily towards pensioners living in this country. The UK’s current social security arrangements with Canada provide for individuals coming to the UK to use periods of residence in Canada for the purposes of entitlement to the UK state pension as well as certain other benefits.