Alan Brown Scottish National Party, Kilmarnock and Loudoun
The hon. Gentleman says, rightly, that the Labour party has presented options. Does he welcome the fact that the Scottish National party is presenting a costed option? The Government cannot argue with the figures.
Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Pensions)
I do not recognise some of the numbers that the SNP is using, but believe me, we want a solution just as much as the SNP. I believe that Conservative Members do too, and we need to work together to achieve that solution.
We have had half-hearted attempts from the Government to quell the voices of women who are rightly angry about these changes and the impact they will have on them and their families, but those attempts are not good enough. An independent review into the future of the state pension age that will not even consider the existing accelerated timetable is not good enough either. Sadly, previous Pensions Ministers have chosen to bury their heads in the sand, but I hope the new Minister is as anxious to find solutions as we are. Failing to use the Pension Schemes Bill to marshal in change would be a missed opportunity by the Government to address the concerns that are being raised by hundreds of thousands of women throughout the country. The Government must think again, and they must do so urgently to cause minimum hardship.
I am well aware that past Ministers have ducked the issue, claiming that sufficient transitional arrangements are in place. The accounts we have heard today, and many others that I am sure the Minister is aware of, demonstrate that those arrangements are totally inadequate. Despite his past misgivings, the Minister can provide real hope for the women affected. I hope he will take the opportunity to do so today.