My honourable friend the Minister of State for Work and Pensions (James Purnell) has made the following Statement.
On 16 January this year, I announced that Paul Thornton had been appointed to undertake a review of the functions of pensions institutions as an independent external reviewer. I am pleased to advise the House that I am today laying a copy of his report in the Library of the House.
Paul Thornton has examined whether the functions of the Pensions Regulator, the Pension Protection Fund, the Pensions Ombudsman, the PPF Ombudsman and the Pensions Advisory Service, and the Financial Services Authority, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the Financial Ombudsman Service in as much as their responsibilities covered pensions, are arranged most effectively. He has done so in an open and consultative way, seeking views from key stakeholders through an initial call for evidence, a consultation on emerging issues, meetings with key players and extensive engagement with the institutions themselves.
His report confirms that the existing institutions are delivering their functions effectively. He recommends that the Pensions Regulator should build on its effective joint working arrangements with the Pension Protection Fund and the Financial Services Authority. He also recommends that there would be benefits in bringing the Pensions Ombudsman and the Financial Ombudsman Service closer together, and identified a number of issues that would need to be resolved in doing so.
The Government welcome his report, and intend to proceed to implement his recommendations, working with the institutions and other interested parties to develop practical proposals that ensure that current and future pensioners may continue to rely on an effective institutional framework for pensions.