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State Pension Age (Women)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:36 pm on 7th January 2016.

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Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment) 1:36 pm, 7th January 2016

I congratulate my hon. Friend Mhairi Black on securing this important debate and on moving the motion with such an impassioned, articulate and typically powerful speech. I also pay tribute to Barbara Keeley for her speech and for being a co-signatory to the motion. I pay tribute to my hon. Friends the Members for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Roger Mullin) and for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford), who have consistently and effectively raised this issue since their election in May.

By the same token, I must pay tribute to the Women Against State Pension Inequality and their campaign to urge the Government to make fair transitional state pension arrangements for women born after 6 April 1951. In particular, it is important to show our appreciation to Anne Keen, who first raised the petition on this issue after receiving a letter from the DWP which said that her expected retirement age had been increased. Far from getting 15 or indeed five years’ notice, she was notified only 18 months before her 60th birthday. What an absolute scandal and disgrace. Last night the petition had more than 107,000 signatures. I imagine that it is now approaching 108,000. That is testimony to all those who have worked so hard to bring this matter to the Government’s attention, including constituents of mine in Airdrie and Shotts.

Unashamedly, the Government are shifting the goalposts at very short notice for hard-working women—women who have gone to work, bettered our industries, raised children and supported families, but who have not had equal employment opportunities, access to independent pension funds or the opportunities that we have today. These women who have made enormous contributions to our society for the betterment of us all will see their retirement age rise without fair or proper notice.