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Afriyie: Hard working people in later life

Speech to Conservative Party Spring Conference 2004 in Harrogate

"I am delighted to be speaking in this session because we have a large number pensioners in the Windsor constituency

So my thanks to the two David's and Tim for the kind invitation

It is my belief that people are happier when in control their own lives

When we work hard and make decisions for ourselves, we are more likely to make better decisions

And this applies to all of us whether we are

rich or poor

black or white

able or disabled

Even if we make the wrong decisions from time to time

We are more likely to put things right for ourselves

If we know it is up to us, to make provision for later life, and if the systems are simple and straight forward

Then we feel our lives are in our control

But over the last seven years this Government has built unrealistic expectations, about what to expect in retirement

And this is not their only crime:

They have coerced us into dependence on the state

By forcing us to complete complicated and intrusive forms

As if we were somehow beggars and criminals.

But have failed to stop the criminals that terrorize elderly people in their own homes

And they have fiddled and tinkered and messed about with the entire savings and pensions framework

So what we have today is an unwieldy and chaotic mess

I can honestly tell you

I do not understand all the credits, tax credits, tax breaks, savings schemes, pensions schemes, ombudsmen, quangos and rules surrounding earnings in retirement

Very few people do

Perhaps other than David Willets

In all areas it has become a form-filling nightmare

Where we pay our tax throughout our working lives, and are then forced, to go cap in hand to ask for some back

And if that weren't enough

To add insult to criminal injury they are taking £5bn a year from our pensions with their stealth tax

It is wrong

Many years ago people knew they would need to take care of themselves in retirement

Is it fair that hard working people are penalised for saving?

Is it fair that 60,000 teachers are facing a black hole in their pension funds?

And is it fair that people are forced to forfeit their family homes and inheritance to support themselves, when people who have made no provision are not?

Now to be fair nobody believes that Labour don't want to help

But by instinct, tradition and conviction they are opposed to people who want to be independent and self reliant

So their ideology prevents them from discovering the right answers

It is time to move on to a Conservative approach

An approach which will simplify pensions chaos

An approach which will reward those who work hard

And an approach, which recognises that we want to take care of ourselves

If only this Government would let us!"

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