We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Clause 1 — Equalisation of and increase in pensionable age for men and women

Part of Concessionary Bus Travel (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 4:48 pm on 18th October 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Gregg McClymont Gregg McClymont Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 4:48 pm, 18th October 2011

That was not so much an intervention as a speech. The fact remains that the difference between the Government’s proposals and ours is £10 billion over 10 years. That is £1 billion a year. Is the hon. Gentleman really saying that a saving of that kind cannot be found in a more sophisticated way, without placing an unfair and disproportionate burden on those women? I do not agree, and nor does any other Opposition Member.

The Prime Minister was right when he suggested that if you put eight Conservative men around a table you would get some interesting answers on pensions, but you would not get the right answer. The Prime Minister was right then, and the Government are wrong now. The Minister’s amendments are welcome, and I am sure that he would personally like to go further, but he does not sit at the Cabinet table, although perhaps pensions Ministers should be in the Cabinet. This concession thus remains too limited. Some 500,000 women will still have to wait up to 18 months longer before reaching state pension age.

Turning to a point the Minister made earlier, this is not an easy issue, and there are great challenges, including that of longevity. As people live longer, the state pension age needs to rise to ensure a decent state pension for all. Labour set in train the Turner consensus: the state pension to rise in line with earnings; the retirement age to rise to 68 by 2046; and private pensions to be opt-out rather than opt-in. Labour also maintained the timetable for equalisation set out in the Pensions Act 1995.

Members on the Government Benches ask why we did not implement that, but Labour made great strides on pensions. Some 1 million pensioners were lifted out of poverty between 1997 and 2010. That is a real achievement. The poorest pensioners were lifted out of poverty. No pensioner lives in absolute poverty any longer. I must also point out that we had to do that because the previous Conservative Government left the pension system, and particularly the poorest pensioners, in a very difficult situation.