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I am concerned that some Government Members appear to have missed much of the main point of this debate. For clarity, I remind them that the opening line of the motion states:
“That this House, while welcoming the equalisation of the state pension age”.
I do not think anyone is suggesting that there is not an argument to be made for equalising the pension ages of men and women. There are serious long-term pressures that mean that it should be addressed with a degree of urgency. However, there is a fairness argument to be made about the way in which it should be done.
I, too, have been contacted by a succession of constituents—a succession of women who appreciate that action needs to be taken, but who are exasperated utterly by the continual shifting of the goalposts and the unfairness of not knowing where the finishing line will be, just to mix my sporting metaphors. They do not know when they are likely to be able to retire.
These women accepted the first change as something that had to happen. Perhaps it would adversely affect them, but they were persuaded that changes needed to take place. I am not claiming that they were delighted, but they did at least accept it. What worries the women I have heard from and women throughout the UK is that the first change proved not to be sufficient, the second came without warning and there is no guarantee or even probability of belief that it will be the final change.
These are women, as has been mentioned, who worked through times when the working environment for women was far harsher than it is now. They suffered more blatant sexism than is the case for younger women who enter the workplace now.