My View – Wrexham Leader Column

I think it’s terrible what has happened with Thomas Cook. That’s why I voiced my concerns in the House of Commons about the British tourists stranded abroad after the company’s collapse. The Minister agreed with me that we need new legislation to deal with this situation and situations like it. However, when I asked for emergency legislation, he couldn’t promise it. Why not? Surely when almost everyone agrees that the law needs to be improved then the Government should make sure it happens.  

Before the illegal prorogation of Parliament, I was ready to take part in an important debate about animal welfare. A lot of my constituents had been in touch about caged animals, especially hens in enriched cages – and I wanted to express their views.

Sadly, the reduction in the number of days that Parliament was sitting meant that this debate didn’t happen so I wrote to a UK Government Minister instead. The Clwyd South constituency is a Wales/England border constituency and while 89% of poultry produce in Wales is free range (the highest in Europe), that figure is much lower across the border. That’s concerning.  

For several years, I’ve campaigned alongside local women who were born in the 1950s and who aren’t getting fair play when it comes to pensions. I’ve met regularly with these constituents both here and in Parliament. I’ve also joined the All-Party Parliamentary Group on State Pension Inequality for Women which campaigns on this issue in Westminster.

Last week a High Court ruling rejected claims that increasing the state pension age for women born in the 1950s discriminated against them on the grounds of age and sex, and that the Government had failed to appropriately notify those affected.

However, all of us in Parliament who are concerned about this issue – and the All Party Group is supported by MPs from all the different parties – are determined that we are going to fight for justice for all the women affected.

We have a lot of practical ideas. These include:

  • making a non-means-tested pension credit available to all women aged 63 and over from the day it’s approved until they reach state pension age

– equalising women’s pensions, so that everyone receives a full state pension (£159 per week) regardless of the number of years of National Insurance contributions accrued

– extending pension credit for those worst affected who have no other income or private pension.

This is exactly the sort of thing that the Government should be introducing in next week’s Queen’s Speech. After the Queen’s Speech, there’ll be a debate. I hope to take part and raise this vital issue then. Women around here – and across the UK – have waited long enough.