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Retirement Schemes

Volume 979: debated on Tuesday 19 February 1980

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3.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received from employers' organisations on the need to introduce flexible retirement schemes.

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received from employers' organisations on the need for flexible retirement schemes to be introduced.

My right hon. Friend has received the CBI's views on flexible retirement, which were set out most recently in its discussion document "Jobs —Facing The Future". My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services has also been considering representations from the CBI and other interested bodies on this subject in response to his Department's discussion document "A Happier Old Age".

I am grateful for that reply. Does the Minister accept that there is a great deal of interest among trade unions and the many thousands of trade unionists who are not affected by the existing early retirement schemes? Does he agree that now, more than ever, there is an immediate priority need for flexibility of retirement if we are to maintain job opportunities and seek improved mobility of labour?

I accept that there is a balance to be struck between those who want to retire early and those who want to continue at work. We have always had flexibility of retirement between the ages of 65 and 70 for men. The question now is the cost of extending that flexibility below the age of 65. It is astronomical but it is something to be considered.

Does my hon. Friend agree that firms that rigidly adhere to a retirement age are often losing highly experienced people of whom they could be making good use? The nation cannot afford to lose such people now.

I agree with my hon. Friend. The accent must be on flexibility and on arrangements made with employers and employees, in particular in industries undergoing technological change.