I am grateful to my hon. Friend Grahame Morris for bringing another debate on this important issue. In the short time available to me I want to make a couple of points. First, the Government have set a dangerous precedent by breaking a contract with the people of this country. What does that say about what will happen in the future?
Those women have been cheated. I resent—and I am sure they do too—the implication that the Government cannot afford what they seek, and that the women are asking for Government spending. There is a contract, which the women entered into with the Government, in good faith. They worked hard, they paid in and they reasonably expected that, at 60, they would be able to collect their pensions. As many Members have said, there was no desire to fight equalisation, but there is a right of fair notice. Many of my constituents found out—some of them on their own initiative—only six weeks before their 60th birthdays that they would not be able to retire at 60 as they had expected. This is not about them fancying putting their feet up but having to work a bit longer; many women are having to continue working in physically demanding jobs when they clearly are not fit to do so.
Julie, a nurse in my constituency, relies on her income to support herself. She has worked in the NHS for 47 years. She recently experienced ill health. She thought she could just stagger on in what is a very physical role, but she now has to work for another three years. She got no notice whatever.