Tory MP Phillip Lee has been told off by party whips for hitting out at George Osborne's pensioner bonds.
Lee had accused the chancellor of "intergenerational theft" after he extended the deadline for pensioners to apply for lucrative savings accounts. The move will cost taxpayers "several hundred millions of pounds", Osborne admitted.
BuzzFeed News has been told that Lee was hauled into the whips' office on Monday for a dressing-down. A fellow MP said: "Phillip was brave to speak out when he did. The whips were not at all happy with him and told him so. It's all about sticking to the party message between now and the election."
Bracknell MP Lee, a practising GP, refused to comment. His office said he was not accepting any media requests to talk further about his views on pensioner bonds.
In a statement on his website, Lee had warned that making "attractive pre-election offers" to pensioners simply deterred younger people from voting. He said:
Today I went on record to say that the pensioner bond should not be a priority and that it is a form of intergenerational theft. I did not come to this conclusion lightly. It is, after all, important to encourage more people to save and vital that our society looks after its vulnerable elderly.
Here I want to explain why it is that this policy represents something deeply awry at the core of our politics – this is that successive governments in recent years have failed in their fundamental duty to plan for the future.
He was backed by the Intergenerational Foundation, which campaigns for fairness between the generations, for speaking out in defence of young people. But with less than three months before the general election, Tory whips were not happy with him breaking ranks.
Over-65s now have until May 15 to sign up for the special savings accounts, which pay up to 4% interest. The Treasury insisted they were part of a plan to help savers of all ages. A spokesman said:
The government's 65-plus pensioner bonds have been a huge success, and are already helping hundreds of thousands of older savers who have done the right thing, by boosting the return on their savings and securing a more comfortable financial future.
The bonds are part of our long term plan to help savers at all stages in life, which also includes abolishing the 10p tax rate on savings and increasing the ISA limit to £15,000, as well as the new pension freedoms which come into effect this April.
A Number 10 spokesman refused to comment.
Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Emily Ashton at email@example.com.
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