One rule in law kept, another broken

In Paul Flynn's blog a few days ago, he mentioned an exchange between himself and Steve Webb, the Minister of State for Pensions:

Paul Flynn: If a private company alters its contractual obligations to pay its customers, it is likely to end up in court on a charge of fraud. The Secretary of State admits that CPI increases at a slower rate than RPI. Is not the measure just a simple theft of money from pensioners?

Steve Webb: No, it is not. Each year the Secretary of State has a duty to assess the general increase in prices; that is what the law requires him to do. If the law required him to link state pensions, for example, to RPI, that would be a different matter, but that is not the duty. The duty is to assess inflation fairly, which is what we are doing. I also announced today that, when companies have RPI written into their rules and no provision for changing those rules, the Government will not allow schemes to change them, precisely for the sorts of reasons that the hon. Gentleman mentions.

Read My Day, 12 December 2010

I don't want to detract at all from the point Paul was making about pensioners. But it struck me as highly significant that the spokesman for one Secretary of State should make the point that if the law required that state pensions were linked to RPI, he would be obliged to stick to it. He also make the point that the ConDem government would not allow any companies to change pension provisions that were linked to RPI.

So if laws linking funding to RPI are such an important point of principle for this UK government, why should another Secretary of State—the one for Media, Culture and Sport—be allowed to break the link between RPI and the funding of S4C?

It's another example of the blatant double standards that exist, and are allowed to exist, within the Westminster government.

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