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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

My argument is that it is wrong to treat someone who starts work at 15 or 16 equally to someone who starts their first proper job at 21 or, with post-graduate qualifications, 23, 24 or 25. People who start earlier have often been in the labour market doing tough manual work—tougher work than any of us have ever done—for 10 more years than the likes of us. My argument is that we should reconstitute our national insurance system to recognise the contributions that they have made, so that anyone in work for, say, 49 years and paying contributions throughout that time should at the very least be able to take not an early pension, but a pension at a more reasonable age. If that brings about a difference between when they take their pension and when their grandchildren who went to university take theirs, that would be fair.

If we do not start to understand some of these social, employment and class sensitivities as we helter-skelter towards higher state pension ages, we will make mistakes and, with great unfairness and injustice, and leave people behind. Many of those people will never get their pensions, because they will be dead before they qualify for them. That is not a sign of a decent British pensions system that understands how our society is evolving.