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Women Against State Pension Inequality

Volume 607: debated on Monday 14 March 2016

11. Whether he has had discussions with the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign; and if he will make a statement. (904060)

It is fair to say that many in the House have had discussions or correspondence with members of the WASPI campaign. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that, in recent weeks, we have had a number of debates in which Members of Parliament on both sides of the House have expressed the views of their constituents.

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer and encourage him to continue the engagement with the WASPI campaign. One of its achievements has been to bring forward an army of women who say that they were not given proper and effective notice of what was coming towards them in terms of their retirement age. Whether that was the right thing or the wrong thing to do is no longer the issue. The fact is that it was done badly, and that now needs proper attention.

I have a huge amount of respect for the right hon. Gentleman—I had the privilege of serving in the coalition Government Whips Office when he was one of the deputy Whips. At the time, he supported the Pensions Act 2011 and was responsible for persuading his Lib Dem colleagues to do likewise. One thing that was always the case with the Lib Dems before the coalition Government was that they blew with the wind. There was a temporary pause during the coalition Government. He is now proving that blowing with the wind is part of the Lib Dems’ DNA, and that they are back to normal.

The Opposition suggestion that the Government could allow that group of women to take their pensions early from the age of 63 has not been fully costed by anyone. Will my hon. Friend share with the House what the implications might be in terms of cost, whether it needs primary legislation and whether men over the age of 65 will be affected?

We have today published information regarding that. It would cost additional funds, and the Opposition and others who support that position might wish to take that into account.