That is absolutely right. Julian Knight said that to put this right we would have to raise income tax by 7p. No, we would not. We could stop spending on other things. We could stop doing things like giving more money to the children of dead millionaires in inheritance tax bungs. We could stop giving businesses cuts in corporation tax at the same time as saying to poor people, “You’ve got to get even poorer.” The truth is that this has been a choice.
Two days ago, the salaries of the chief executives of the top 100 FTSE companies passed the average annual wage of working men and women. That is the level of inequality in this country. At the same time, we are saying to this group of women, “Sorry, you’ve got to carry the can for the failures of global capitalism.” By and large, Conservative Members simply do not care, because they do not understand the reality of life at the sharp end. My mother was one of the women who worked all her life. She was in and out of jobs where she was never allowed to join a pension scheme, and she was only able to build up a secondary pension scheme, so in the end she died in relative poverty. My mother died 15 years ago, but things have not really changed for the majority of women in this country, particularly the group we are talking about.
My constituent Elizabeth Ainsley wrote me a long, heartfelt letter from which I will quote only small bits. She says:
“My pensionable age has changed twice once in 1995 from 60 to 64…to bring women in line with men and then again when I was not notified until I was age 59 with 5 years to work to my retirement age that this had been changed from 64 to 66. This is just not enough time to prepare.”