Furious Turner to hit back at Government

Fears report will be shelved
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The Independent Online

Lord Turner of Ecchinswell is to launch an attack on the Government for undermining the findings of his Pensions Commission report before its publication this Wednesday.

The former CBI director-general has told friends he is livid about how the pensions debate has been handled. He is set to criticise the Government over two separate issues, which he argues have undermined the work he has been doing for the past three years.

Lord Turner is known to be angry about the way the Treasury leaked a letter questioning calculations in the Commission's report, after it was sent a draft copy for consultation. At the same time Gordon Brown let it be known that he would not accept a key proposal, that rises in the state pension should be linked to average earnings.

However, The Independent on Sunday has learnt that Lord Turner was already incensed about a prior move by the Government, which he saw as undermining what he was doing.

This was the deal struck by the Trade and Industry Secretary, Alan Johnson, with civil service unions over public service pensions. The Government had wanted to increase the retirement age for civil servants from 60 to 65 but, after heavy opposition, backed down in the case of people already working in the public sector. New entrants, though, can retire only at 65.

Sir Digby Jones, director-general of the CBI, has attacked this deal as mortgaging the country's future, claiming it will cost £750bn. But Lord Turner is more angry about the message it sent out at a time when ministers knew that he was planning to propose an increase in the retirement age from 65 to 67.

"It looks like 'do as I say not do as I do'," said a source, aware of Lord Turner's views.

Lord Turner is expected to voice some of his feelings at the press conference on Wednesday when the report is published. He is under pressure from the Prime Minister and other senior politicians to keep his counsel.

However, Tony Blair's comments that the report would be the basis for future debate has only convinced those close to Lord Turner that it will be shelved and he has nothing to lose by going on the offensive.