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Volume 635: debated on Tuesday 30 January 2018

12. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the potential effect of the liquidation of Carillion on workers’ pensions. (903624)

The taskforce established to tackle the impact of Carillion’s liquidation includes the Department for Work and Pensions, and my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary is in regular contact with my right hon. Friend the Pensions Secretary. Those already receiving their pensions will continue to receive payment at 100% of the usual rate. Anyone worried about their pension situation can contact the Pensions Advisory Service; its dedicated helpline has now responded to over 800 calls since Carillion’s insolvency.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but I think it will be of very little comfort to many Carillion staff, past and present, when they hear that the deficit in their pension fund is approaching £1 billion. Public sector contracts have made some at the top of Carillion very rich indeed, so what action is the Minister taking to ensure that current and future pensioners do not lose out?

The hon. Gentleman will understand that issues in relation to pension schemes are a matter for the independent Pensions Regulator. However, the Pensions Regulator has been in contact with Carillion and the pension scheme trustees for a number of years about the funding of the pension scheme. I can absolutely assure the hon. Gentleman that the work of the taskforce is to look at what happened in relation to the Carillion insolvency, and to ensure that if lessons are to be learned, we will learn them.

The global headquarters of GKN is in my Redditch constituency. It employs 200 people, and concerns have been raised about the pension scheme there as well. The Pensions Regulator is warning that in the event of a takeover, there may be something to look at. What lessons is the Minister learning from Carillion in this case, and what further action does he need to take?

The Secretary of State, I think, has already outlined the approach with which the Government are handling the takeover of GKN, but I can assure my hon. Friend that the implications of business actions, and particularly takeovers, in relation to pension schemes are a priority for the Government. We will continue to proceed with care and caution to protect the interests of all members of pension schemes.