East Lothian Courier – 5 April 2024


Having spoken in Parliament and written about the injustice suffered by women born in the 1950s and denied pensions, a Ministerial Statement last Monday offered hope. This was following the publication of an Ombudsman’s report confirming that there had been error by the DWP, and that compensation should be provided.

Sadly, the Ministers comments were simply a reprise of facts, all too well known by the ladies, and provided no resolution to the wrong they’d suffered. The Government are stating that they need time. Yet, this has been a blight on so many for years. It may not have been this administrations failing and some not even by those of their party. But as I said to the Minister that’s the responsibility of Government and it goes along with the privilege of holding high office. You just need to sort it out.

Equally, when there are failures in governments, we have independent bodies to provide impartial scrutiny. As I also stated to the Minister, we cannot have the recommendations of the Ombudsman undermined. It’s essential that the Government moves swiftly to ensure justice before it’s too late for even more who’ve suffered.

There’s hardship and injustice though at both ends of the age spectrum. A parliamentary question confirmed that 422,000 households across the UK were affected by the cruel 2 child cap for benefits. That equated to 1.5 million children needlessly being put into poverty. It’s disgraceful that those youngsters should be suffering. It’s not a crime to have more than one sibling or more than two children. Poverty’s cruel but it’s heightened for the young and elderly. These things are within Government powers and it’s shameful that neither have been resolved by the Tories nor even committed to being addressed by an incoming Labour administration.

Finally, there’s been much reporting of the Hate Crime Act passed by Holyrood. Rather than addressing a problem it’s creating new issues. It fails to address violence against women and girls by far the most numerous hate crime. It’s also a nightmare for free speech and for the police to implement. It should be repealed.