The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has regular discussions with the Minister for Women and Equalities, but the Government will not be revisiting the state pension age for women born in the 1950s who are affected by the Pensions Acts 1995, 2007 and 2011.
What encouragement are the Government giving to the 1,524 women in my constituency of Hull West and Hessle who are suffering because of the lack of notice given by this Government about changes to the state pension age?
The Government have already introduced transitional arrangements at a cost of £1.1 billion. The cost of reversing the Acts would be in excess of £70 billion and create an inequality between women and men.
I thank my hon. Friend for that question. I am not a legal professional, but I think that any amendment to the current legislation that creates a new inequality between men and women would unquestionably be highly dubious as a matter of law.
Does the Minister recognise that signatures to early-day motions in this House since the general election show that there is cross-party support, and probably majority support in this House, for justice for the Women Against State Pension Inequality? If and when the WASPI question comes to the House on a Backbench Business motion or an Opposition day motion, will the Government sit on their hands like they have been doing, or will they allow the House to express its will?
The hon. Gentleman is very right to raise that question. Clearly, there is support on that matter across the House. However, it is also right that arrangements for the state pension system reflect welcome changes in average life expectancy and address long-standing inequalities in pension age. If we had not equalised state pension ages, women would be expected to spend more than 40% of their adult life in retirement.
Like scores of other 1950s women, I have struggled to get any information on the availability of apprenticeships that a Minister in a Westminster Hall debate on 5 July suggested were an option for struggling 1950s women. Can the Minister confirm whether she agrees with her colleague and thinks that his suggestion of an apprenticeship was really an appropriate one for tens of thousands of women currently being denied their pensions?
I am delighted that the hon. Lady is considering taking on an apprenticeship, because a very large number of women over the age of 60 are. I do not think that anybody should be forced to take one on, but those who want to should be practically encouraged to do so. Between August 2016 and April 2017, the number of apprenticeship starts for people aged 60 and over was 3,500, an increase on the previous year.