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Mhairi Black Slams Empty Chamber As 'Five Tories' Show Up To Equality Debate

07/01/2016 18:07 | Updated 07 January 2016

Mhairi Black slammed the Government on Thursday after 'only five' Conservative MP's turned up to a debate on state pension equality for women.

The state pension age for women was due to rise from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020 but the coalition Government decided to speed up the process in 2011.

Reacting to this, the 21-year-old SNP MP addressed the Commons, raising points about the length of time it took the Government to provide correspondence to women in 1995.

Black said: "I think it is noticeable and it is a pity that so few Conservatives have turned out and I think it's important to highlight that not a single letter was sent out by the Government to women.

"There was no official correspondence from the Government to the individuals affected, alerting them of the changes that were going to happen to them."

After the discussion the SNP politician claimed that there were only five Tories in the chamber:

"The Conservative ethos is to encourage independence and responsible choice, but how can that happen if you don't give people the time to make the responsible choices?" she asked.

The discussion was part of a wider ongoing debate on women's pensions by the campaign group WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaign).

WASPI states on its Facebook page that it's an action group campaigning against the unfair changes to the State Pension Age imposed on women born in the 1950s.

Black argued that women had not been given sufficient notice to prepare for their pensions when the act came into law.

"I think it's important to explain why these women have found themselves in the position they have. To do so we have to go back to 1995, when the pension act increased the female state pension age from 60 to 66," she said.

"Now the purpose of this was to equalise the pension age so that women were retiring at the same age as men, that's fair enough, that makes sense, I don't think there's anybody that would disagree with that principal.

"The Turner commission recommended that 15 years notice should be given to individuals if their pension arrangements were going to change in order to give them adequate time to respond appropriately.

"[And] the 1995 act technically did do that. Equalisation -the changes- were not to be brought in until 2010 that did give women 15 years notice. But the problem is nobody knew about it."

She then went on to question the effect this would have on women.

"By continuing this policy at such a high speed the Government is knowingly and willingly placing a burden on women who are already trying to deal with the consequences of an act passed 21 years ago," she said.

On her Facebook page, Black posted the video of her speech with the caption: "We can afford Nuclear weapons, we can afford to send airstrikes to Syria, but we can't afford to look after our pensioners?"

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