I want to make some progress, but I will let the hon. Gentleman in later.
The Government, despite not giving reasonable notice, have so far not apologised for how they have treated these women. It is utterly, utterly shameful, and it raises the question: how much notice should be given for changes to the state pension age? The Pensions Commission, which reported in 2005, suggested that at least 15 years’ notice be given on any further increase in pensionable age—15 years, not the 15 months given to so many women. Will the Government not recognise that appropriate notice has to be given and make changes?
Given the Government’s failure to give proper notice, I tabled a written question to the Secretary of State, which I received an answer to yesterday. My question was:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what his policy is on the minimum written notice to be given to people who will be affected by future changes to the state pension age.”
I received the following response:
“The Government has committed not to change the legislation relating to State Pension age for those people who are within 10 years of reaching it. This provides these individuals with the certainty they need to plan for the future. We recognise the importance of ensuring people are aware of any changes to their State Pension age and we use a number of different means to do this…Anyone can find out their State Pension age with our online calculator or the ‘Check your State Pension’
According to the Minister who responded, the Government accept that they should not change legislation for those within 10 years of pensionable age. That is all well and good, but what is the point if they do not inform those directly affected?
Yesterday, in response to a further question, a Minister stated that,
“following the Pensions Act 1995, State Pension estimates, issued to individuals on request, made the changes clear.”
“On request”! It should not be done on request. People should not have to ask the Government to inform them; that is this Government’s responsibility. It almost seems like a script from the comedy, “Yes Minister”, rather than a Government acting in a proper manner.