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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 6:00 pm on 18th October 2011.

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Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Labour, Croydon North 6:00 pm, 18th October 2011

Yes, but I hope that the hon. Lady will consider my point about CPI and RPI, because we are talking about billions of pounds that could be lost to British pensioners when that change is implemented over coming decades.

Let me reach my conclusion. We suffer from over-generalisations in this field. I am fed up with macho commentators, often from the political, professional and business class, who somehow assume that everyone will live to a ripe old age and that those in their 60s will have portfolios full of all sorts of opportunities—a directorship here, writing a book or doing a television programme there. Many people, not least those on the Government Benches, talk about a world of that kind—I do not want to get the hon. Lady over-excited: she has had many chances to respond, but she knows who I am talking about. Given the typical life cycles for the late 20th and early 21st centuries, more and more of our children and grandchildren will effectively not get started in their careers until their early 20s or even their mid-20s. With the rise of university education, the pattern of many people’s working lives will be like that.

However, that pattern is not at all typical of everyone in our society. When we recall the question that Stephen Metcalfe asked about the mortality of those people, let us remember that there are still many working people coming up to retirement who started their working lives as 15 or 16-year-olds. They are the packers, the cleaners, the van drivers, the heavy manual workers and the care workers. By the time they reach retirement they are worn out. They are physically knackered, if I am allowed to use those words. They are tired, they are exhausted and what they need, in an old-fashioned sense, is a rest. They need to retire. They are not people like the hon. Gentleman, who I suspect will still be sprightly in his late 60s and 70s, with his portfolios and all the rest of it; they are physically worn out. They have been working since they were children, and they need a rest.