HC Deb 05 July 1993 vol 228 c9
7. Mr. Jacques Arnold

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his current estimate of the additional cost of equalising the state pension age at 60 years.

Mr. Hague

The cost would be around £4 billion a year more than the current scheme at 1992–93 prices.

Mr. Arnold

Would not the reverse be true if equalisation were to take place at a higher level? Would not there be considerable savings—amounting to billions of pounds—in the social security budget, which could be redirected to those most in need? Is not that why Germany and the United States are well on the way to equalising at a higher level and why Denmark has already done so?

Mr. Hague

My hon. Friend is right to point to the action taken by other countries in equalising, and in some cases increasing, their state pension age. Obviously, large savings stand to be made in those countries' expenditure. The Government are still considering all the options. No decision has yet been taken, but one will be announced in due course.

Mr. Bennett

Is the Minister aware that the Government's continual dithering over this matter is causing a lot of hardship to people who have to make logical decisions about their retirement? Does he accept that what would help most people would be to offer a flexible retirement age between 60 and 65 to suit individuals and their savings?

Mr. Hague

Accusations of indecision or dithering come strangely from a party whose policy on this matter is shrouded in the deepest mystery and is likely to remain so for some time. The Government have received 4,000 responses to their consultation document about the state pension age. It is fair and proper to give full consideration to all those responses and to await the European Court judgment, which was mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, before reaching a decision on any of the options, including a flexible retirement age.

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