Parliament and government should help to ensure predictability and to help people to feel secure

Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing
Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing

We debated the unfair impact of changes to the state pension age, particularly for a cohort of women born in six months in the 1950s.

In 1908 the state pension age was 70 for women and men. It was reduced to 65 in 1925.

The inequality of the earlier retirement age for women was introduced I think in 1940.

Few doubt it is right to have an equal age and it makes sense to recognise that age of entitlement should rise gradually.

It was wrong to create the anomaly for 150,000 women of a double delay.

I blame the Treasury for asking for it and the social security department of Work and Pensions for agreeing.

Parliament and government should help to ensure predictability and to help people to feel secure. Adding years to work can be necessary: it should be done fairly.

I gave support in the most recent Westminster Hall debate and I support Tim Loughton MP and the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group.

He and I had made practical suggestions to a Pensions Secretary whose reaction was to resign within days.

Next day’s first engagement was at The Laurels Primary School, near the Durrington Tesco superstore, where I was welcomed by the chair of governors Mary Mugridge and the head teacher Charlotte Bull with Esme and Ollie who serve as head girl and head boy.

The young leaders kindly led me on a tour of the school and its grounds.

On Friday, after house calls, I visited the Worthing Art Gallery and Museum, a gem by the town hall, before stopping in Ferring, East Preston and Rustington.

|Also in the news - a man who fell from a multi-storey car park in Worthing is in a critical condition; an accident at a tyre-fitting shop in Worthing which left a worker with serious injuries is being looked into by a Government agency; and family and friends have bid farewell to a former midwife who helped deliver thousands of babies over a 47-year career|

There was a big Saturday including St Botolph’s church gathering where I marvelled at the record of expenses in 1901 for the bell ringers’ outing to the Isle of Wight.

Items included cigars for drivers and ale bought in three places.

I congratulate Mencap for filling the Assembly Hall with stalls and music. Their long-term champion was the comic actor and serious campaigner Brian Rix. Lord Rix was secretary-general, chairman then president.

Shortly after he was knighted in 1986, he and I were in Sorrento for the Road Haulage conference.

For some reason he included in his memoirs that he took his wife Elspet Gray and me to a good lunch in Positano.

It was jolly good fun to join the church goers and friends of St Michael’s RC church in Salvington. The life of a church spreads widely into the community.

Later I joined party friends at the Jubilee hall in Greenland road. I am delighted that the New Life church are developing a new site in Durrington and that planning permission has been given to redevelop their present premises.

If and when the local Islamic Society wish to develop a larger mosque, I trust the Christian churches and neighbours will give support. We can each help others to thrive.

After the weekend I joined my sisters and cousins at the funeral of an elderly relation who like many in the 1920s was born in India.

It is wrong to imagine that our parents and grandparents only went abroad to fight.

In fact, if three generations were born abroad, UK citizenship might be denied to a person who was clearly British.

I was interviewed by a biographer of Michael Gove. That led to me looking at a 1995 sharp television grilling in which Michael tested me with an accusation that I or the government was soft on the IRA.

I have said many wrong things; on that, events have followed what I said could happen.

The meeting of needs, the pursuit of security and general well-being does take a team, with the contributions of many individuals.

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