I wanted to provide an update on three important WASPI topics:
1) WASPI survey
I am pleased to say that the survey the APPG on State Pension Inequality for Women was completed by well over 100 different women's groups around the country with an awful lot of really useful information. We've gone through the survey returns and we will be publishing a report on the findings soon.
The purpose of the process was to try to and find some common ground and solutions to the problem of pension inequality that women could support and inform the WASPI Bill. We know we cannot please everyone as there are so many different groups with different potential solutions - indeed, this has been part of the problem as the Government have been able to divide and rule as a result of the lack of coalescing around a single solution.
2) WASPI meeting in Parliament
We will be presenting this report at a meeting of the APPG on 25th April. We have sent invitations to all of the official groups that responded to our survey. We've invited them to send one representative to the meeting, it's important is it by invitation only because of the weight of numbers. If you haven't had an invitation please don't show up as it will be a difficult meeting to host without trying to work out who has and hasn't got an invitation.
There's not going to be a strict agenda and we are not able to Skype the meeting as Parliamentary rules do not allow it. However there will be a wide variety of different views represented at the meeting and so please be assured that your view is likely to be heard one way or another.
3) WASPI Bill in Parliament
We put forward a cross-party Private Member's Bill (PMB) to try and force the pace with the government to get a piece of legislation through, as the numerous debates that have taken place beforehand are not binding on the government.
The problem with PMBs is that they can only be debated on Fridays and there are limited Fridays where Parliament is sitting. We chose Friday 27th April because we thought there wouldn't be many other Bills in front of ours, however due to some rather complicated and historic processes there are a lot of Bills now in front of ours and so there was no chance that it would be debated.
So for tactical reasons we are going to choose another date, we have not abandoned it. However it is important to set expectations; having this Bill does not mean that it is going to become law, we still need to win votes in Parliament and find the time to have the debates/votes on the parliamentary timetable. The power over the timetable is controlled by the government and unfortunately the government are still not sufficiently sympathetic to this cause to guarantee the Bill will become law.
The pressure that the women's groups across the country are bringing to bear is really important. If you haven't done so already please do contact your local MP because the more MPs who understand the issue the more MPs will support the cause and bring even more pressure on the government to changes its mind.