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State Pension Age

Volume 604: debated on Thursday 14 January 2016

2. What discussions she has had with her ministerial colleagues on the effect of the increase in the state pension age on women. (903005)

Ministers regularly discuss matters of policy spanning their responsibilities, and the hon. Gentleman will be aware that this issue was debated very recently.

That is correct. Last week’s Back-Bench business debate resulted in a unanimous decision, with Members on both sides of the House calling on the Government to correct the unfairness in the rules. Is it not time for the Government to lay down a strategy for introducing transitional arrangements to help the women most affected by these rules?

I gently refer the hon. Gentleman to the direction given by the Deputy Speaker following that debate in response to a point of order, when she made it absolutely clear that the Government were not bound by any vote or decision taken in a Back-Bench business debate.

It is estimated that, with the new threshold to qualify for auto-enrolment set at £10,000, 1.28 million people will miss out on accessing their pension. Does the Minister agree that the Government’s pensions policy negatively impacts women, and will he support the establishment of an independent pensions commission to look at all pensions issues, including investigating the inequalities facing women in the current system?

A lot is happening in the pensions world at present, and I think it important that we prioritise making sure that all that goes through, rather than thinking of new innovations.

Does the Minister share the Prime Minister’s view that the good settlement for pensioners extends to 1950s women, and will he explain the bits of that settlement that are best for them?

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that in a debate of 2011 a concession was made and the time period was reduced from two years to 18 months, at a cost of £1.1 billion to the Exchequer.

I was disappointed with the Minister’s response to my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Jeff Smith). The Minister is correct that last week’s Back-Bench business debate is not binding on the Government, but will he admit that the Government have absolutely lost the argument on this case? Will he commit to justice for those women born between 1953 and ’56, who now face a huge pensions pay gap after they led the fight for my generation on the pay gap in the workplace?

This issue was not in the manifesto of either the Labour party or the Scottish National party. That is not surprising, given that undoing the 2011 measures would cost over £30 billion. If the hon. Lady persists in pursuing this policy from the Labour Front Bench, it is important for her to outline from where it would get that £30 billion.