Mhairi Black Slams Pension Changes

Mhairi Black has become the latest politician to take part in a live online discussion on parenting website Mumsnet, with questions centred on women's pensions.

The SNP MP said women are being "shafted and short-changed'' by a decision to accelerate the rate at which the state pension age is to be equalised during a debate in the Commons last week.

Plans to increase the state pension age for women from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020 were initially set out in 1995. But the coalition government decided to speed up the process in 2011, resulting in it due to increase to 65 in November 2018 and then to 66 by October 2020.

Many members of the website joined Ms Black for a webchat on the issue.

Other questions ranged from asking the 21-year-old about Scottish independence and what her favourite biscuit is.

Ms Black answered around 20 questions during the forum, which lasted for more than an hour.

One contributor, who started the chat by asking the MP to explain the pensions issue in one sentence, also took the opportunity to ask her about her snack of choice.

Ms Black replied: "To sum up, the Government's view of pensions is that they are a benefit when in actual fact they are a contract and, to put it simply, the Government has broken that contract.

"My favourite biscuit is a Tunnock's caramel wafer.''

During last week's Commons debate, opposition MPs forced a vote on a motion calling on the Government to immediately introduce further transitional arrangements for those women negatively affected by the changes, which was supported by 158 votes to zero.

The motion is non-binding and therefore the Government is not compelled to act.

Ms Black was questioned about the move by mumsnet participant Downthelane, who called it "ludicrous''.

She replied: "I agree, that's ludicrous. It's bad enough that the Government benches were so empty for the whole debate but they also refused to even vote on the issue.''

Ms Black defeated shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander to become the new MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire in last year's general election.

Aged 20 at the time, she had yet to sit her final exam at Glasgow University where she was studying politics. She graduated seven weeks after the election.

One poster, AgentCooper, asked about her time at university and which of the institution's two students' unions she preferred.

She replied: "QMU (Queen Margaret Union) - cheesy pop on a Friday was always a laugh.''

Closing the discussion, MetalMidget asked: "If Scotland achieves independence, is there any chance you could claim the West Midlands as part of Scotland? Please?''

Ms Black wrote: "I appreciate the point you are making. I think the craving for alternatives to austerity exist throughout the whole of the UK and not just Scotland.''

Mumsnet has previously held debates with other politicians including David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.

 

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