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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 5:45 pm on 18th October 2011.

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Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Labour, Croydon North 5:45 pm, 18th October 2011

With respect, I think that what I have to say will be helpful to the hon. Gentleman, and I am sure that he will tell me where I get it wrong, if I do.

I want to analyse mortality by social class. I shall talk about men in particular, although there is a class difference among women too. People in social class 7 tend to be in routine occupations. For example, they might be labourers, van drivers, packers or cleaners; many women would be cleaners. We hear a lot about longevity and how we will all live to 100: the Minister keeps telling us—he issues a press notice every few months—that one fifth or one sixth of us will live to 100. It might surprise the House, therefore, that 19%—almost one fifth—of men from social class 7 die before the age of 65. Almost one fifth of these hard-working working-class people in tough jobs—no doubt they have had tough lives too—die before 65.

I put that point to the Minister and the House because, before glibly raising the pension age to 66 or 67, we need to recognise that many of our fellow citizens do not live to 65. Furthermore, 10% of women in social class 7 die before the age of 60, while among the professional classes, that figure is only 4%. I should have said earlier that, in contrast to the 19% figure, the proportion of men in the professional classes who die before the age of 65 is 7%. So there is a huge social class differential, and if we are not careful—we need to do the arithmetic very carefully—and if we glibly increase the pension age, we might rule out more and more people from ever getting their old age pension.