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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 5:00 pm on 18th October 2011.

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Photo of Gregg McClymont Gregg McClymont Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 5:00 pm, 18th October 2011

That bears precisely on the point. We are talking about real women and we must give due credence to their fears and anxieties, especially about due notice.

On fair notice, the fact remains that under the Government’s amended plans some women will have only five years to prepare. The shock of having to adjust at such short notice to a rise in the pension age of between 12 and 18 months cannot be overestimated—this reflects the point made by my hon. Friend Cathy Jamieson. These women feel genuine anxiety. The 500,000 women in question made decisions based on what they thought was a contract with the Government that they had paid into the system for a certain amount of time and would get their state pension at a certain age. The Government have moved the goalposts dramatically for these women; there is no getting away from that and it is another way in which the Government are breaking the consensus we appeared to have in 2010.

The Government are going down a dangerous path with this Bill, which sets a precedent by which the principle of reasonable notice of changes in citizens’ state pension age is dramatically reduced. The precedent is important because as longevity rises and as the Minister already suggested, there will inevitably be further uplifts in the state pension age. The principle of reasonable notice is broken by this Bill.

The independent Pensions Policy Institute was very clear in its evidence to the Select Committee on Work and Pensions on that point. The 1995 Act gave women 15 years’ notice and although the Pensions Policy Institute understood that longevity is rising and that it is necessary to make changes more quickly, it still maintained that 10 years needed to be the minimum notice that any woman was given.