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Volume 552: debated on Monday 5 November 2012

8. What steps he is taking to protect members of pension schemes from being incentivised to transfer their pensions. (126305)

The Government have worked closely with the pensions industry to address concerns regarding incentive exercises. As a result, an industry code of practice was published in June, which we fully support. A monitoring board has been established to evaluate the effectiveness of the code.

I am grateful for that answer. Can my hon. Friend provide evidence on the number of companies that have signed up to the code of practice? Is it achieving its objectives?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that. The industry’s response to the code has been very encouraging. Some 49 individual firms and, perhaps more importantly, 14 representative organisations have publicly signed up to support the code, and the figures are growing. The supporters include the major employee benefit consultancies engaged in these exercises and their representative organisations.

Auto-enrolment of pensions is a wise and overdue step forward, especially for low-paid employees. However, with workers changing jobs an average of 11 times in their working lives, does it not make much more sense for them to park their pensions in low-cost aggregator schemes? If not that, what will the Minister do to ensure that fundholders will not have incurred high charges throughout their working lives as a result of numerous transfers?

The issue that the hon. Gentleman rightly raises is one of the many loose ends left for us by the previous Government. When auto-enrolment was set up, they simply left us with a situation where people could accumulate a dozen small pots and leave them fragmented. We propose under auto-enrolment that where people leave behind a small pot it will, by default, transfer to their new employer, so that they will accumulate what I have called, in technical terms, a big fat pot.