The Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign’s attempt to get an amendment into the Pension Schemes Bill appears to have faltered as political parties failed to reach a consensus on its introduction.
The Bill, which relates to the regulation of master trusts, had its second reading in the House of Commons last night.
The Scottish National Party defended its decision not to try to introduce an amendment to the Pension Schemes Bill with provisions for the group, which is campaigning for transitional measures for women for in the 1950s who have seen their state pension age increase.
In the debate, Labour said it was disappointed that the Bill was limited to master trust issues and did not look at other issues of state or occupational pension provision.
Labour MP and work and pensions select committee chairman Frank Field said they he had hoped introducing an amendment would not kill the Bill, but would delay it to make a statement about Waspi.
Field said: “The plan was not to kill the Bill but just to hold it up for a bit so that we could hopefully highlight the position of Waspi pensioners, for soon they will all be retired and the horror will have been completed. We have no other weapon against the Government, because they have made it plain that they are going to sit out this issue. The Scottish nationalists were not prepared to form an alliance with those of us who want to block the Bill in order to actually raise this issue and perhaps implement the recommendation of a previous Select Committee report.”
Labour shadow pensions minister Alex Cunningham added: “If one line was added to the Bill to extend pension credit to the Waspi women—that is our policy—it would have gone a long way to pacifying us this evening.”
SNP pensions spokesman Ian Blackford MP agreed that it was disappointing the Bill did not address the Waspi issue, but said it would have been “impossible” to do so given its scope.
Blackford said: “You made the point that this is a narrow Bill, which is exactly why it would have been impossible to amend it to take account of the Waspi case. [Field] should know that an attempt to kill the Bill would have done exactly that, and we do not solve the problem faced by Waspi women by defeating this Bill, which is so necessary to protect pension savers. Frankly, he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself; he does no justice for the Waspi women with his campaign and the remarks he is making.”
Earlier this week, Money Marketing revealed that the SNP had taken its decision not to support an amendment to the bill based on advice from parliamentary clerks that any changes related to the state pension would stop the Bill going through.
Non-Waspi group forms
Money Marketing has also seen a new strategy document from a group, ’63 is the new 60′, which is campaigning for transitional measures separately from Waspi.
The group is calling for state pension provision from age 63, and is calling for members to attend a demonstration organised by other non-Waspi groups the 50s Women’s Action Group and Waspi Voice on 21 February.
The strategy document, which members are told not to share with the official Waspi group, asks members to renew their effort to write to Theresa May and their MPs.
The document reads: “We strongly believe that she is being kept out of the loop on this issue which the men in grey suits may well feel is ‘not that important’. If you have a supporting MP, then please push him to write to the Prime Minister on your behalf.”