Over the past two and a half years I have met many constituents who have been directly affected by the various changes to the state pension age. Listening to them, it is impossible not to feel every sympathy, given the circumstances in which many find themselves. If I suddenly found out that I would not be able to retire at the age I had expected, I am not sure that I could say how I felt—actually, I probably could, but I fear my language would not be parliamentary.
Mike Wood: On the 100th anniversary of the communist revolution’s introduction of a system that impoverished and imprisoned tens of millions, what is the Department doing to promote the benefits of free markets for workers, consumers and society as a whole?
Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Mike Wood: I thank my hon. Friend for taking forward the excellent work begun by my hon. Friend Will Quince in the previous Session. He rightly says that most employers would grant leave under such terrible circumstances, were it asked for. Is not the point of the Bill that no parent should, in almost unimaginably horrible and difficult circumstances, have to make such a request and fear what the answer might be?
Mike Wood: The hon. Lady’s position seems to be that there is legal uncertainty about whether it is necessary for the UK to leave Euratom and that we should have left the issue until further in the negotiations, finding out whether we were leaving later on in the process. Would that not have just left rather less time to prepare if we did have to leave?
Rebecca Long-Bailey Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee
Mike Wood: Does the hon. Lady recognise that an independent study put the cost of providing childcare for three and four-year-olds at about £3.72 per hour, whereas the average amount that goes to a council is £4.94—significantly more?
Mike Wood: I declare an interest: my wife is a primary school teacher who is currently working as a teaching assistant.
Will the Chief Secretary ensure that both the rising cost of living and recommendations of the independent pay review bodies are properly taken into consideration in the setting of public pay policy for next year’s settlements?
Elizabeth Truss The Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Mike Wood: Our West Midlands police have done a fantastic job in cutting crime and doing more with less. Will the Minister ensure that the police funding formula is reformed to deliver a fair deal for the West Midlands?