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As the hon. Lady knows, the coalition agreement referred to the possibility of raising the state pension age for men from 2016 and for women from 2020. Obviously, what we have done since that coalition agreement was produced is sought expert legal advice. We were advised that delaying the equalisation between men and women would have been illegal under European law. That comes to the heart of one of the questions that has rightly been asked, which is, why do the changes affect women more than men? The reason is that they are two separate changes brought together.
The first is the more rapid equalisation, and the second is the equal treatment of men and women from 65 to 66. The equal treatment of men and women from 65 to 66, not surprisingly, affects men and women equally, so the thing that affects women more is equalisation.
That is what the Pensions Act 1995 does. It leaves men’s pension age at 65 and equalises women’s pension age, raising it from 60 to 65. Lo and behold, that Bill affected only women, because equalising the pension age so that women get the pension at the same age as men rather than earlier affects women. Not surprisingly, a change that was happening in any case, which we have speeded up and which affects only women, added to a change that affects men and women equally, produces the expected result.