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AEA Technology Pension Scheme

Volume 631: debated on Monday 13 November 2017

11. What steps he is taking to assist people affected by the collapse of the AEA Technology pension scheme and its predecessor. (901846)

The Government’s position has been out in a parliamentary debate in October 2016, as it was previously in March 2015 by the hon. Lady’s Liberal Democrat colleague Sir Steve Webb. I have great sympathy for those affected, but they are now covered by Pension Protection Fund compensation scheme.

In 1996, the Government Actuary’s Department, in a note sent to AEA Technology staff, failed to clearly outline the risks of transferring their pensions to the new private sector scheme. We regulate financial advice in this country, yet when it is the Government giving the advice not even the parliamentary ombudsman can review it. Surely this is grossly unjust? Why does the Minister not pursue this mis-selling scandal, as the Financial Conduct Authority did with the payment protection insurance one? Is it because the Government would be to blame this time?

The hon. Lady suggests one thing. I can only refer her to the two parliamentary debates that dealt specifically with this matter; this was set out by her own Lib Dem colleague Sir Steve Webb in March 2015, when he was part of the coalition.

The PPF is a vital lifeboat for individuals whose employers become insolvent. Will the Minister update us on when his White Paper looking at the affordability of defined benefit pension schemes will be available?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. As he knows, the Green Paper was published in February 2017, and extensive consultation and much consideration of the matters put forward has taken place thereafter. We are in the process of analysing those responses and intend to publish a White Paper in the new year.