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Occupational Pensions

Volume 932: debated on Friday 20 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what provision he will make to enable the Occupational Pensions Board to issue provisional certificates for companies intending to contract out, but whose procedures may not be completed by April 1978.

It is not intended that the Occupational Pensions Board should be enabled to issue such provisional certificates. The Board has stated in its Memorandum No. 29, paragraph 93, published in March 1976, that interim documentation, to establish a new occupational pension scheme or amend an existing one, may be used to give effect to the contracting-out requirements until definitive documents are completed. Companies have had a considerable period of notice as to the Board's requirements and should, by now, be well under way with the necessary procedures. Nevertheless, the Board and my Department will jointly be keeping under review any need for further relaxation of the procedural requirements.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the number of companies which have already indicated their intention to contract out of the State second pension scheme under the Social Security Pensions Act 1975.

Although only 12 formal elections to contract out have been received by the Occupational Pensions Board some 500 companies have so far indicated an intention to contract out by asking the Board to approve draft scheme rules, etc. The Board's officials have also had wide ranging discussions with many consultants who cover an unknown number of schemes.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what action he is taking to encourage the process of discussion about contracting-out under the Pensions Act 1975; and if he is satisfied with the speed of decision making on the issue.

The Occupational Pensions Board has recently arranged for copies of a reminder leaflet to be sent to some 1┬╝million employers on the Inland Revenue mailing list. My Department has distributed to employers who were contracted out of the former graduated pension scheme 45,000 copies of a revised employers' guide, with a letter urging them to institute the necessary procedures if they intend to contract out In addition DHSS officials in their day-to-day contacts with employers are now drawing attention to the new scheme and the procedural requirements for contracting out. Further publicity is being planned by both the Board and my Department.I would emphasise the need to press ahead if we are to avoid the difficulties for all concerned which would result if a large proportion of applications were delayed until shortly before April 1978.