State Pension Changes (Compensation for Women)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Stuart McMillan Stuart McMillan Scottish National Party

I absolutely agree with Gillian Martin.

My fourth point is that in 2014, the people of Scotland were told that a vote to remain in the UK would protect and guarantee pensions. Clearly, among other things that they were told, such as that voting no would safeguard Scotland’s membership of the European Union, that was not the case. It was another false claim by the pro-union side.

Some MSPs suggest that the Scottish Government should top up the pensions. However, section 26 of the Scotland Act 2016 says that the power to do that is limited to

“a short-term need that requires to be met to avoid a risk to the well-being of an individual.”

That indicates that, to get that done, each person would need to be assessed.

Exception 10 in section 28 of the 2016 act is about the power to create new benefits. It states that the power cannot be used to provide pensions to people

“who qualify by reason of old age.”

Exception 5 in section 24 of the Scotland Act 2016 relates to the “top-up of reserved benefits” and the wide-ranging power to make discretionary payments. However, in order for it to apply, people must already be receiving a reserved benefit that could be topped up. In the case of the WASPI women, they have been denied that which is rightfully theirs and they are not getting that pension. How can they get a top-up of something that they are not getting?

Some politicians will claim that it is not a constitutional issue, and neither should it be. However, when a system is broken and we are being asked to pick up the pieces by applying an imaginary top-up that we are not allowed to apply, it could be claimed that WASPI women will not get what is rightfully theirs until some MSPs and pro-union parties admit that the answer to the problem lies at Westminster. I agree with Pauline McNeill’s comments on that issue.

I am sure that every MSP will want to support Scotland’s WASPI women and ensure that they get what is rightfully theirs, because they have put into that pot.