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State Pension Age (Women)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:43 pm on 7th January 2016.

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Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Shadow Minister (Health) 1:43 pm, 7th January 2016

My hon. Friend is right. When the Pensions Act 2011 was debated in the House of the Commons, the current Secretary of State said,

“but we will consider transitional arrangements.”—[Hansard, 20 June 2011; Vol. 530, c. 52.]

Where are they? Those ladies are still waiting. It is about time the Secretary of State came to the Dispatch Box and set out those transitional arrangements, because those women cannot wait forever.

We have already had the first U-turn from the former Pensions Minister, who said that he was not properly briefed. That says a lot about the calibre of Liberal Democrat Ministers in the former coalition Government. Now we have a Pensions Minister in the other place, who was a champion for those ladies until she took the Queen’s shilling. She now says that she cannot do anything about it. What utter nonsense. What is the point of having a Minister if she cannot do anything about it? It is time that Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions got off their backsides and did something to help those women.

Following on from my hon. Friend Carolyn Harris, I will give the Minister some friendly advice. I appreciate that it is not his area of responsibility but that of the noble Lady at the other end of the building who speaks on pensions. My hon. Friend likened the WASPI ladies to wasps. Wasps can be pests and nuisances. They cannot easily be bashed away and, when that happens, they get angry and come back. If they are really annoyed, they sting and, unlike bees, they can sting more than once. Let us have some justice for these ladies; it is long overdue.