[Mr. Roger Gale in the Chair] — Pensioner Poverty

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 23rd February 2010.

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Photo of Jo Swinson Jo Swinson Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs) 9:30 am, 23rd February 2010

The Minister clearly puts her points on the record, but they are not much consolation to those individuals in the job market who are currently facing discrimination and being told to retire before they wish to do so. We hope that, as a result of the review, people turning 65 will not be discriminated against in such a way. It is worth noting that when the Government were taken to court last October by Age Concern and Help the Aged over the compatibility of this policy with human rights legislation, they were allowed to uphold the law only because of their promises to review the system. In his judgment, Mr. Justice Blake said:

"I cannot presently see how 65 could remain as a default retirement age after the review."

I very much hope that after the review the default retirement age will change.

I know that there are many right hon. and hon. Members here who wish to speak, so I would like to conclude by saying that if we take these issues together-the pitiful state pension rights, the fact that thousands of elderly people are missing out on money that is rightfully theirs, the concerns about heating homes in the winter and the fact that savers are being hit by plummeting interest rates-it is no wonder that many pensioners feel abandoned by Government. So I will finish with the words of one of my constituents, Mrs. M, who wrote to me to say:

"Elderly people do not seem to have a voice."

I hope that this debate today goes at least some way to providing that voice.