Lord Skelmersdale (Shadow Minister, Work & Pensions; Conservative)
I suspect that the Minister will have some difficulty accepting this amendment; I cannot do so because life is unfair for women. Not only, as the noble Baroness said, do they live longer, but they also give birth, as my daughter-in-law is doing as we speak.
I appreciate how galling it must be as a woman to be offered a lower annuity than a man for the same amount of money, but that is a reflection of the longer life expectancy that a woman can expect to enjoy and is based on market-assessed risk, not prejudice or discrimination. If a car insurer, for example, can offer a preferential insurance rate to young women because of their statistical likelihood to be safer drivers than young men—I must admit that that statistic surprises me, but be that as it may—I do not see how we can avoid similar differentiation for the elderly. I also take heart, as the noble Baroness did, from evidence suggesting that life expectancies are slowly converging as male life expectancy rises. I am sure that the market will respond and that the difference in annuities will adjust to incorporate this; if not, I agree that the Government ought to keep a very close watching brief on this.
Before I sit down, I must say how nice it is that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Davidson, is joining us. Could it be that the Minister is suddenly in need of legal advice?