Pension Equality for Women

Jim Shannon Excerpts
Thursday 14th December 2017

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Work and Pensions
Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Dec 2017, 1:49 p.m.

I am grateful for that intervention. We have heard that message from both sides of the Chamber, and I am very hopeful that the Minister will take it on board.

The final point I want to make about this specific constituent was that she had lived at the same address for 27 years—she had not moved house, and she had not moved around the country—yet she never received a single letter from the DWP about these changes. That is the inadequacy we have to look at.

I would like to echo the comments of the hon. Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris)—sadly, she is not in the Chamber at the moment—and my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), who spoke about the all-party group’s study into this issue, which I fully support—I was at the launch in Westminster Hall recently. It is great to hear that there have been 90 submissions so far, but we need more because this is an opportunity for WASPI groups and WASPI women across the country to get involved and to ensure that we go through the process and have something to offer the Minister and the Government. We want to identify a solution, and it is important that the women affected by these changes are involved in that.

All 3.8 million WASPI women agree with equalisation, as we have heard across the Chamber today.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP) - Hansard
14 Dec 2017, 1:50 p.m.

Does the hon. Gentleman share my concerns, and those of many others in this Chamber, about women who are doing physical and perhaps menial work and who are unable to continue to work for another two years? Does he agree that the Government should consider those who are physically unable to work and to cope with the extra two years and that action should be taken to help those women?

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Dec 2017, 1:50 p.m.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that point. I was able to raise only some of the testimonies that I have had from Moray WASPI women, but I would have included those who are continuing in very hard labour jobs and have worked for a very long time in these sectors, where they have also experienced gender inequality. They suffered while they were working, they thought they were coming up to retirement age, and they have had to continue extremely strenuous work into a period where they thought they would have been retired. They have been hard-working, conscientious employees for so long, and they deserve our support. I hope that the many who are here with us today, and indeed the many around the country who are watching this debate, will feel that there is support around this Chamber and across the parties.

As I said, the key issue is the lack of notification. That is indefensible on the part of any Government. These decisions were made not only by the current Conservative Government but across these green Benches. Governments have let these women down by not ensuring that they had the notification they required to make their plans for the future. As we have heard, they were faced with a cliff edge with no prior notice. That is wrong, and that is why I support the WASPI women.

I also support the very positive comments that we heard earlier about the fact that we are fighting for these ladies’ entitlement to something that they have paid into for their entire lives. They should not have to fight for it—they should be given it. They entered into a contract with the Government that said, “At the end of it, you will receive this pension at this age.” That is why I support these women in fighting for that entitlement. It is why I support the Moray WASPI women who are with us today, all the WASPI women in the Gallery, and all the WASPI women who are watching at home.