STEPHEN Flynn has accused the Conservatives of being the same as Labour after Rishi Sunak appeared to dodge questions about maintaining the pension triple lock beyond the next General Election.

The SNP Westminster leader asked the Prime Minister if he would commit to maintaining the triple lock – which ensures the state pension rises based on the highest of average earnings, inflation or 2.5% – after Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner refused to pledge her party would do this if they got into power.

Pensioners look set for a bumper pay increase next April as earnings figures indicate that the state pension could leap by 8.5%, but there are concerns the UK Government is struggling to maintain the triple lock with the pensions budget set to put billions of pounds worth of extra pressure on public finances.

During PMQs Flynn asked Sunak: “Will he commit to maintaining the triple lock? Yes or no?”

The Prime Minister did not give a definitive answer, before Flynn concluded the Conservative and Labour parties had consensus “once again, on this most important of issues”.

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He said: “I don’t think we heard a yes there. You’ll imagine my shock that we appear to have consensus once again between the Conservative party and the Labour party on this most important of issues.

“Despite the promises that were made to the people of Scotland in 2014 and despite the clear statements from the likes of Gordon Brown that the only way to protect your pension is to remain within the UK, how hollow those words are now.

“May I ask the Prime Minister, who does he think will scrap the state pension triple lock first? His government or the Labour Party’s government?”

Sunak once again did not answer the question and proceeded to boast about how much Scottish pensioners had benefitted from Conservative policies and the “strength of the Union”.

He said: “Thanks to the actions of this government, pensioners in Scotland are receiving record increases in their pension.

“This is a government that remains committed to the triple lock. Pensioners in Scotland should know the reason they can rely on the state pension is because of the strength of our Union and the strength of our United Kingdom government.”

SNP MP Chris Law also grilled Sunak on whether he thought billionaires should be getting special tax treatment amid reports members of the House of Lords are trying to exploit the non-domicile status “loophole” to “avoid paying their fair share”.

It emerged last year Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty claimed non-dom status allowing her to save millions of pounds in tax on dividends collected from her family’s IT business empire.

Sunak: “Inequality is lower today than it was in 2010.”

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Elsewhere at PMQs, Keir Starmer and Sunak clashed over the escape of terrorist suspect Daniel Khalife from Wandsworth prison.

Starmer asked why he had not been held in a Category A prison, to which Sunak said investigations were underway to make sure the UK Government learnt from the case so “that it never happens again”.

Starmer continued to insist the Tories were presiding over mayhem in the criminal justice system, referring to the failures that led to the death of Zara Aleena – who was killed by Jordan McSweeney after he breached his licence conditions for a previous offence.

Starmer also called for a “full audit of UK-China relations” after raising the case of a parliamentary researcher alleged to have spied for Beijing.

He said it was a “serious security concern”, saying some MPs face sanctions, intimidation and threats from the Chinese state.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak “I refer [Starmer] to my previous answer where I said very clearly that the Foreign Secretary raised these issues with the Chinese foreign minister who he met, as did I when I had my meeting with premier Li (Qiang) over the weekend.”

On China, he said the Government has the “most robust policy that has existed every in our country’s foreign policy”, saying it is to protect the country and align the approach with close allies, and to engage “where it makes sense” and to raise “our very significant concerns” – an approach he said was welcomed by allies.