asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will seek power to introduce phased retirement for men.
No, Sir. I refer my hon. and learned Friend to the arguments and costings in my Department's memorandum of last year entitled "Pension Age".
Is my right hon. Friend agreed that in principle there can be no justification for different retirement ages for men and women? Is he agreed in principal on retirement equality for men?
My hon. and learned Friend asks me about principle. Obviously the Government would want to work towards equalisation, but that will take time. This is a matter of costings. My hon. and learned Friend will have seen the sort of public expenditure that would be needed to bring about an equal pension retirement age in the paper that we produced.
In the present situation, in which we are faced with long-term structural unemployment, does my right hon. Friend agree that the odds are very heavy that the job of every man who is put on pension will be taken up by someone on the unemployment register and that the net costing of such an operation would be little or nothing? If there is the long-term phasing in of a lower retirement age, and, having looked at the booklet in some detail—
Order. This is not a time for the giving of views.
We shall learn a great deal from the job exchange scheme. Sometimes people who retire quite rightly seek other employment. We hope that when we return to full employment the problems to which my hon. Friend has drawn attention will not exist.
In the meantime, can we not make a start by offering the option of a retirement pension to those over 60 who are made redundant?
Again, the point is the cost. Pensioners would not want to take a reduced pension. If they were to get the full pension, the State would have to pay for it.