WOMEN pensioners in former industrial areas of the North-East are living in poverty compared to those in other parts of the country, one of the region's MPs has said.

Vera Baird, who represents Redcar, told the House of Commons that nationally, half of all women pensioners lived in poverty, with only three in ten having private pensions.

But, said the Labour MP, women made up two-thirds of the pensioner population.

Much of the poverty stemm-ed from the married women's National Insurance stamp which saw millions of working women opt for the reduced stamp in the 1960s and 1970s.

In return for lower contributions, they waived their entitlement to basic state pension until their husband reached 65, when they would receive 60 per cent of his pension.

Many had no idea they had given up their right to the state pension because this was only explained in a 64-page document.

Ms Baird called for these women to be compensated to redress a wrong "quite harshly felt, particularly in places such as Redcar" because male and female roles were extremely polarised and women emerged into the workforce relatively late. "Carrying on with their dependency on their men as they did for perhaps longer than metropolitan women would have done, they find themselves in this predicament," she told MPs.

"They were denied self-determination financially in their youth, they were denied it by the culture in their middle lives and if some real recompense is not made they will be denied financial self-determination in their old age because they will spending it in pensioner poverty."