Skip to main content

Pensions Bill [HL]

Volume 726: debated on Wednesday 30 March 2011

Report (Continued)

Clause 10 : Certification that alternative to quality requirement is satisfied

Amendment 20

Moved by

20: Clause 10, page 9, line 3, leave out “or most”

My Lords, I shall also speak to Amendment 21. The new pension arrangements that are to apply from 2012 provide a minimum level of pension contributions, based on a band of qualifying earnings, of 8 per cent, of which at least 3 per cent must be met by the employer and the rest from the employee contribution and tax relief or credit. The required minimum contribution levels are set as a quality requirement for a qualifying pension scheme. Some employers who already operate good workplace pensions base their pension contribution calculations not on earnings but on other definitions of pay such as basic pay. It has been argued that the regulation should be set so as to encourage employers with good-quality schemes to stay with them. Clause 10 seeks to recognise this by introducing an additional provision to the powers in the Pensions Act 2008 that allows the Secretary of State to set an alternative process of certification known as the alternative requirement. That will allow employers to certify that overall their schemes satisfy the quality criterion for pension contributions. This process involves setting a regulatory test which, if met, will allow employers so to certify.

Although the Government have published the test that they intend to set in regulations, the regulations are still subject to consultation, so we do not know what they will finally look like or how they may change over time. The Johnson review asserts that under the regulatory test that is proposed, 92 per cent of workers would still match the statutory quality criterion on contributions under the qualifying band of earnings. This assertion is based on the ONS survey of hours and earnings. The assertion of 92 per cent is based also on the pattern of earnings before auto-enrolment. Our concern is that after the onset of auto-enrolment, an incentive may have been created that will encourage bad employers to arbitrage between the statutory quality criterion of an 8 per cent contribution on a band of earnings and the alternative requirement, to the detriment of some workers. In a nutshell, our concern is that while trying to accommodate good employers, a compliance loophole is created for bad employers.

The purpose of the amendments is to strengthen the protection afforded to jobholders under the alternative requirement. For the purposes of the amendments, I do not seek to debate the detail of the proposed regulatory test for the alternative requirement, or even whether there should be such a requirement. I want to focus on the powers that are enshrined in Clause 10 and what must be satisfied before the Secretary of State can set the alternative requirement.

The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee refers to the Secretary of State's power to set an alternative requirement as “significant”, as indeed it is. Clause 10 prescribes the power of the Secretary of State in setting an alternative requirement, but it does not go far enough for the following reasons. In Clause 10, the Secretary of State must, for most schemes, ensure that, for all jobholders or a cohort of the relevant jobholders, the contributions paid into the pension scheme satisfy the quality criterion. However, the clause requires this to be the case only for a majority of the individual relevant jobholders—a majority being 50 per cent plus one. We are concerned that this could lead to a significant number of individual jobholders missing out on what should be their statutory entitlement. In effect, the aggregate requirement could be met by more generous contributions for some jobholders, with less than qualifying amounts, or potentially even none, for others.

The intent of Amendments 20 and 21 is to strengthen Clause 10 such that in all cases—not just most—schemes will be able to satisfy the alternative requirement only if, for no less than 90 per cent of the individual relevant jobholders as distinct from a simple majority, the amount of contributions paid under the pension scheme meets the qualifying amount. As my noble friend Lord McKenzie said in Committee, it is not acceptable that,

“an alternative requirement could allow nearly half of all jobholders”—

with a particular employer—

“to be short-changed”.—[Official Report, 15/3/11; col. GC 2.]

I beg to move.

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Drake, for introducing this debate. The amendments to Clause 10 would require the Secretary of State, before making regulations on certification, to be satisfied that in every single scheme at least 90 per cent of individuals would receive contributions no less than if the scheme had satisfied the relevant quality requirement.

I fully understand that the noble Baroness still has reservations about the breadth of the Secretary of State's regulation-making power and individuals losing out under the proposed certification arrangements. The whole purpose of the reforms is to transform the savings culture by improving the coverage of and participation in workplace pension saving. To succeed, we need to incentivise employers to retain their good-quality schemes. Certification gives employers an incentive to keep their good-quality schemes by simplifying the automatic enrolment requirement. It protects members by discouraging levelling down. The flexibility provided by certification is an important counterbalance to the burdens being placed on them by automatic enrolment. Getting the balance of protection right is crucial because introducing complexity will encourage employers to level down by abandoning good schemes and individual savers will be short-changed.

To help employers plan for the reforms, I should like to put on record that employers using certification will be able to phase in their contributions gradually. That question has been of some concern to the industry and I am pleased to clear it up. I believe that employers using certification will welcome that easement to help with the administrative and contribution costs of increasing enrolment into their schemes. We recognise the advantage that such an approach would bring and so have already kicked off discussion on how we might operate phasing within the certification model. We propose to set out the detail in regulations and guidance. The plan is to consult on secondary legislation informally over the spring, with a more formal consultation after the Bill receives Royal Assent.

However, I recognise and share the noble Baroness’s concern about some individuals receiving less than the minimum contributions, for whatever reason, under the certification arrangements. In developing the certification model, we have undertaken some detailed analysis of pay and reward systems using data from the annual survey of hours and earnings. Based on that analysis, we believe that the number of people who could potentially lose out is quite marginal. If all employers were to use certification, the data tell us that around 9 per cent of individuals could experience a shortfall resulting in contributions less than if the scheme had satisfied the relevant quality requirements. Those individuals are concentrated in industries where basic pay can be supplemented by overtime and other non-pensionable income.

We are committed to finding a pragmatic solution to certification which protects individuals without alienating employers. I believe that the certification test which I have previously described is that solution. However, to address the concerns raised, particularly in relation to the breadth of the regulation-making power, I take this opportunity to commit to looking at how we can reasonably circumscribe the scope of the Secretary of State's powers without compromising his ability to deliver the certification model welcomed by employers. We will be analysing the available data sets on earnings and contribution rates to see how that can be achieved. If it is possible, I should like to return with an update at Third Reading in the shape of an amendment to be introduced in Committee in another place.

I hope that, based on the assurances I have given, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

I note what the Minister said about phasing in contributions gradually. I was not anticipating that. He said that there will be consultation about the regulation on that point, so we will have an opportunity to look at that. I note what he said about the regulatory test. I had stayed off the detail of that test because I was focusing on the powers in the Bill.

I am grateful for the Minister's commitment to look at how the powers of the Secretary of State could be reasonably prescribed in order to address the concerns that we expressed and to return to it at Third Reading. I hope that between now and Third Reading it will be possible to sort out a form of words that would reassure us on that point. If it is not possible, I reserve the right to come back to the matter at Third Reading. On the basis of what the Minister has said this evening, I shall not press the amendment.

Amendment 20 withdrawn.

Amendment 21 not moved.

Amendment 22

Moved by

22: After Clause 13, insert the following new Clause—

“Power of trustees to allow early access to lump sums

After section 32 of the 2008 Act (power of trustees to modify by resolution) insert—

“32A Power of trustees to allow early access to lump sums

Providing that the jobholder has at least £10,000 in his or her pension scheme, upon application to the trustees of the qualifying scheme or automatic enrolment scheme a jobholder may withdraw up to 25% of the total sum accrued at the time of the application in the jobholder’s NEST.””

My Lords, Amendment 22 is on early access. I had hoped to be able to move it only once, in Committee, but I found myself caught in another pensions obligation at that time. I apologise to your Lordships.

Those of us who can afford it try during our working lives to build three tiers of savings: instant access to about three months of income; ISAs for the medium term; and, finally, a pension pot for the longer term. Some of us may feed our ISAs into our pension pot in our 50s for tax benefits. To do all that and pay off the mortgage and, increasingly, university fees will require earnings probably well above the national average. Men who can hope to have a full working life and a decent occupational pension may be able to do most of that when mortgage pressures, especially, ease off. I rather doubt that any women earning below about £22,000 could begin to.

On this issue, I am asking your Lordships to hold up the gender filter because this is, for me, a gender point. We assume that the key point about saving into pensions is to transfer income from a financially more secure working life to a more insecure and impoverished retirement. That is true for men, but it is not particularly true for women, unless they are in professional jobs. Women who are in and out of the labour market and have unpredictable and fluctuating caring responsibilities may experience more of a financial rollercoaster during their working years than in their retirement when their income, though lower, is predictable and secure so that their experience during their working life is very different from that of men. Women are far less likely to save in any shape or form, hence the need for NEST. We have already been told today that the pensions pots of men in their late 50s are six times greater than those of women.

What stops a woman saving? This is very different from any analysis that you get when you ask the same question of men. It really is. First, she cannot afford it. Her earnings may be very low, part-time or intermittent. Secondly—and this is where you get a specifically female take on it—she regards it as selfish to save. Money is needed for trainers, and she would expect to put the children’s needs ahead of her own. In any case, she rather vaguely hopes her husband is looking after all of that. Thirdly, even if she does think about saving for a pension, Tracey’s mum who did save is, because of means-tested benefits, no better off than Tracey’s aunt who did not. That is one of the reasons one is so pleased about the prospective new state pension. Finally, and this is the point that this amendment addresses, even if she could afford to save modestly into a pension, her life is so unpredictable, given what I have already said, that she does not want to lock money away that she cannot touch for 40 years. She may face divorce, disability, debt or repossession. Through almost all of that, her husband will keep working. She probably will not. She might lose her home, her husband or her health, and through all of that, she cannot touch her money in the pension scheme, even though her need now is greater by far than her need in retirement and she has no alternative savings. Far more than most men, she may need a modest pot of £5,000 or £10,000 that she can access in hard times but cannot afford to build it alongside a pension.

Why is it that people are putting more money into ISAs than into pensions, even though they are forgoing the employer’s contribution and more generous tax reliefs? It is about access. We allow better-off men and better-off women to put their ISAs into their pensions. What poorer women need is exactly the opposite: the ability to turn part of their pension, so to speak, back into an ISA. There is no product on the market which allows them to do it. We need what David Willetts and Malcolm Rifkind first floated: a lifetime savings account.

Given this Bill, how would we do it? We already allow people early access to a slice of their pension—the tax-free lump sum—even if they are not drawing the rest of their pension. How might it work? I suggest that to encourage saving, when a woman has built a pot of, say, a minimum of £10,000, she could access a quarter of it—£2,500—and I would cap that right at a pot of about £100,000 so that it does not provide work for fancy accountants. She would not be able to draw any more until she had rebuilt her pension back up to, say, £14,000, at which point she could draw a quarter of the difference between the £10,000 and the £14,000, or a further £1,000. By the time she retires, she would have drawn no more than the equivalent that she would have got with her tax-free lump sum, but she would, if she thought it necessary, have had earlier access to it.

Why? First, it would give women especially the right to a savings slice as part of NEST or indeed any occupational pension. A woman would know that for every pound she put away, 75p would be ring-fenced for a pension, and 25p would be available as a savings slice. Knowing she had that rainy day slice does not mean to say that she would draw it, or need to—but if she did, it would be much cheaper to borrow from herself than from someone else at such extortionate interest rates as would squeeze out her ability to continue to pay into a pension. Allow a woman access to a lump sum within her pension and she is far more likely to continue saving and build, eventually, a larger pension.

Secondly, the tax-free lump sum is already separate, if the saver chooses, from drawing the actual pension. Until recently it was at the age of 50, now it is at 55 that you can draw the lump sum, even though you may not take your pension for another five or more years. So no new principle is involved: there is already a disjuncture between taking the tax-free lump sum if you choose and the pension payment. No fiscal adjustments have to be made. You do not have to fret about repayment; you do not have to have judgments about what is and is not good expenditure. Why is it okay at 55 to use your tax-free lump sum to build a conservatory, but not, at 45, to save your home from repossession?

I am often told that the obstacle or objection to this is that it would cost a woman a bigger pension if she has taken her tax-free lump sum earlier, and that this is not acceptable. That might be true—if the tax-free lump sum was usually added to the pension. It seldom is. Of the 76 per cent of people who drew their tax-free lump sum, nearly half spent much of it on the car or the holiday; 39 per cent used it to pay off mortgage or credit card debts; 31 per cent spent it on home improvements; 17 per cent helped their children; and about half put some of the lump sum into other and accessible savings forms, such as a building society. So we should not be reducing the woman’s pension if she were able to draw her tax-free lump sum, but merely freeing up the time at which she may draw down a slice of it, if she needs to—possibly for expenditure on things more significant than will occur at the ages of 55 or 60.

Finally, and above all, being able to access a tax-free slice of the sum would make saving into a pension more attractive. At 22, a young graduate going into their first job would hope that by the age of 30 he or she might have enough for a deposit on a flat. At 40, she may want it for running away money, following family break-up. At any time, it might help with adaptions to the home where there is sudden disability. In the USA’s 401(k) schemes, research shows that those who could access their schemes early—in some you can, in some you cannot—ended up saving up to 3 per cent more into their final pension.

For a low-paid woman wondering whether to opt out of NEST because she believes she cannot afford the 4 per cent contribution, knowing she was also building an accessible savings pot could encourage her to auto-enrol. We should be developing a savings and pension model for those who cannot afford each of those separately—as most of us can—that best fits their needs.

There is currently a consultation paper from HMT which discusses this model, among other models, for early access. The other models—for example, loans and repayment, or channelling money into ISAs which can then be fed into pensions—have their merits, but they add to the fees and complexity and largely benefit those better-off people who can manage both savings and pensions alongside each other. I am concerned for those who cannot manage both. For women between the earnings threshold and, say, average earnings, only the tax-free lump sum model makes sense.

As I have said several times today, as have others of your Lordships, I am thrilled by the £140 proposals, which would make it safe to save. Access to a tax-free lump sum within your pension would make it even more attractive to save. There is no additional cost to the Treasury, no additional risk to the woman saver as she would not from experience have spent that tax-free lump on adding to her pension, and no increased fees because she is supposed to have a different, parallel and separate sort of product. I believe that it would transform her willingness to save in a pension. Many people in the industry tell me that with such a scheme more people would save and they would save more. I beg to move.

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, has performed a signal service to the House in bringing this issue to our attention. She was kind enough to refer to work done by David Willetts and Sir Malcolm Rifkind. I was privileged to be part of their Front Bench team at that time, although I cannot claim any real credit for the genesis of the thinking. As the noble Baroness said in referring to the consultation paper, it is now beginning to sink into the mainstream. I am a strong supporter of greater flexibility in this area so I am glad that she has raised it.

I have some slight reservation as to whether the issue is as gender specific as the noble Baroness feels that it is. I think that she is conceding that point and, indeed, she did not say that it was exclusively so. I can imagine situations where men, for example, perhaps have overlapping earnings and have acquired a certain pension capacity or pot. In Committee, we debated some of the difficulties that can arise as regards smaller sums. It might be quite sensible, as well as convenient, for an individual of whatever gender who perhaps is starting a business or otherwise to access that money in order to provide starting capital. It is a wider and general interest. I very much look forward to the Minister’s response to how it is going.

In technical terms—I stress in technical terms, although not in any sense to derogate from it—I have some slight reservations. First, in terms of using this Bill as the vehicle for doing it, it is premature but that is not a reason for not ventilating issues. Secondly, I am not absolutely sure—because it appears annexed to a passage of the Bill which is about auto-enrolment, although I think that the noble Baroness indicated a wider remit—whether it is simply about NEST or more general. I think that it is probably more general and it would be clearly invidious if it was NEST specific.

There is also a technical problem in the wording of the amendment. I understand the point, which was developed during her speech, that there could be some rules which would avoid moral hazard and would get one to the same minimum assured level of pension or pension pot at the end. Nevertheless, the way in which the amendment is worded it seems to me to be at least conceivable that as long as the £10,000 limit were maintained, an individual pensioner could make serial applications to the fund and draw it down to the qualifying level. I know that that is not the noble Baroness’s intention. However, it is right that we should be starting to think about this and I hope that it will be even better when we have brought it to effect.

Perhaps I may add that I think that it is a great advantage that the noble Baroness has raised this issue. I believe that if it were to be taken up it should go across all pensions. In the US, under the 401(k) plan, you can withdraw money only by borrowing it at a fancy rate of interest and you have to repay. Even with that rather unattractive mechanism, as has been pointed out, it still bears fruit. The ISA story illustrates it even more so. Let us remember also that if you take money out of an ISA you cannot put it back and continue with those benefits.

More widely, if we are going to keep the pension structure as a big area for retirement saving, it is a bad brand name which has been damaged by all sorts of things in the past 15 years. Elements need to be added to pensions saving to make it attractive to people, of which this is one of the important ones.

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for her amendment. I know that she is very committed to this proposition and she has enunciated it with a particular focus on gender issues, which we understand. However, the noble Lords, Lord Boswell and Lord Flight, both pointed out that it is a wider issue and one that is not just for NEST but for pensions across the board. We support the Government’s call for evidence on allowing early access to pension savings, evidence which would consider benefits to individuals and the impact on aggregate saving levels. As my noble friend pointed out, there are various policy models—loans and withdrawals, permanent withdrawals, feeder funds and early access to lump sums—which I think is the model that my noble friend is particularly focused on. But of course these have different impacts and outcomes in terms of the propensity to increase savings, or indeed in some instances, the propensity to reduce savings.

There are few data on how an early access policy might impact on individual behaviour or the pensions industry. Behaviours in other countries—401(k) has been mentioned in respect of the US—give only a limited guide to the UK. The PPI says that for real conclusions for the UK, further research within the UK context is needed. Is there an appetite for early access? Would it encourage savers to save more? What proportion of people would access savings early? These questions need to be considered in the context of other current developments—auto-enrolment, the removal of the requirement to annuitise at 75, changes to taxation, and so on. Where is the balance between encouraging more saving and reducing pensions in retirement?

We need also to think about the application to DB schemes and how that would fit. If we have something that is attractive to DC, what does that mean in terms of DB schemes? I am quite sure that technically something could be provided to work for DB schemes as well, but I think it would be quite complex.

In terms of its application, the noble Baroness focused on pension pots of £10,000. I do not know what data there are about “running away money” at aged 30 or 40; I am not sure whether I was enthused by the concept or not. How many people would have a pension pot of £10,000? When we were debating annuitisation at 75 I remember data that showed that only 5 per cent of people had pension pots in excess of £100,000. Those data may be a little old, but they are illustrative. How many people at the age of 30 have a pension pot? If you are talking about 25 per cent of £10,000, that would not pay for one year’s worth of university fees. We have to explore what the appetite would be for this and how it would work, but it seems to me that it is not altogether straightforward.

There is an issue about whether it changes the paradigm with employers. If you have something which is seen more as a saving scheme than a pension scheme, that will impact on employers’ willingness to fund. I do not assert that it would, but it is an issue that ought to be explored as part of this journey. We all know the Treasury line—I am sure that the Minister has it in his file that pensions are about long-term savings. That is why there is generous tax relief and any deviation from that should not be contemplated. I do not have to follow that line any more as I am not in the noble Lord’s position, but there is an issue about how it would impact on the tax regime for pensions. We also need to be careful about the risks of tax avoidance by these mechanisms. If someone paying the 50 per cent rate gets half of that paid on the way into the pension pot and you can get 25 per cent of it out tax free straightaway, that would seem to be a pretty good deal. Rather than simplifying the tax system, one can see the complexity of the rules that would need to be put in place to deal with that and the constant challenges there would be to those parameters.

We should thank my noble friend for introducing the amendment. I hope and believe that it is probing in nature because the time is now right for this to be fully examined and it seems that the Government are on a path to do that. However, we need more information on a number of issues before I or my party would officially be able to say that this is something we support. But it is certainly something that deserves examination for the sort of reasons that my noble friend has advanced.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, for raising this very important issue of allowing individuals early access to their pension saving. I was more or less as disconcerted as the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, about the concept of it being “running away money”, not least because I thought that if the spouses of Members of this House got to hear of it, they might take advantage as we spent night after night in this place rather than at home with them.

The noble Baroness wishes to allow individuals to access a tax-free lump sum of up to 25 per cent, before the current minimum age of 55, when they have pension savings of at least £10,000. I am conscious that this is an issue to which the noble Baroness has repeatedly drawn our attention, and to which she returned at Second Reading when she asked where the Government's consultation paper on early access to pensions had got to. I can answer that particular question; I can report to my Lords that the Government published their call for evidence on early access to pension saving on 13 December last year. It set out the available evidence around early access and some of the potential benefits and risks, and then sought further evidence from interested parties. That call for evidence closed on 25 February. Drawing on the responses to the call for evidence, we will consider the arguments for and against allowing more flexible access to pension savings, based on firm evidence, before we consider further changes to the pensions tax framework.

It is too early to say what these changes might be. However, we need to bear in mind several principles. First, the purpose of tax-relieved pension saving should be, as the noble Lord would like me to say—I have to say it—primarily to provide an individual with an income in retirement. I think 75 per cent probably makes that point anyway. Secondly, any changes to the pensions tax rules must be affordable and sustainable for the Exchequer, and not, as the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, pointed out rather vividly, create opportunities for tax avoidance. I was pretty impressed that he was able to knock up a tax avoidance scheme so quickly, but we can see where he is coming from. Thirdly, changes should not create disproportionate complexity or administrative burdens for individuals, pension providers and schemes, or indeed for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

I am sure the noble Baroness will agree with me that it is right for us to examine the evidence submitted before making changes to legislation. On that basis, I urge the noble Baroness to withdraw this amendment.

I am very grateful for the support around the House—equivocal support, perhaps, in some cases—on the significance of this issue. Of course, this is not exclusively a women’s issue by any means, and if it was attractive to anyone who wished to take it up, as far as I am concerned they would be able to do so with the agreement of their trustees. My noble friend Lord McKenzie anticipated the paragraph that we have all had to repeat—I have had to repeat, my noble friend has had to repeat, the noble Lord, Lord Freud, has had to repeat—about how pensions are designed and so on, but I tried to hold up a gender filter because I firmly believe that it is still an HMT model that is based on male working lives. However, let us not go down the route of asking why the Treasury might not understand.

When we are trying to encourage poor women—women earning possibly well below average earnings—into a savings model, I do not mind very much whether it is saving for their current life or their retirement. I do not mind very much whether it is income or capital. We get hung up on divisions that make sense in the click-in click-off world of conventional male work; the noble Lord, Lord Freud, is absolutely right, in the universal credit, to refuse to accept that simple dichotomy of “in work, out of work” and see it as a dial. The same situation applies to women in pensions. They do not have a male life, where they are in work, they contribute to a pension, they retire, they are then poor and where you have to distribute from one to another—that is not the experience of poorer women in and out of the labour market who may face more turmoil and roller-coaster finance in their working lives than they ever will in retirement.

The question is how we best encourage those women to build some protection for themselves against the contingencies in their working lives, as well as to prepare as best they can for savings in retirement. We want to do this in ways that do not either exploit their naivety or get them into oversaving at a risk to their current living expenses. The more research that I and others in this field have done the more I believe we need a simple single product—probably not called a pension, probably called something else—into which you put your money and where a proportion is ring-fenced for retirement and a proportion is available for savings. We happen to have a very easy way of modelling that based on the tax-free lump sum; the other versions that the Treasury have put out to consultation are more elaborate, possibly more adept, models but will not particularly meet the needs of this client group. We need something that is simple, understandable, attractive, affordable and fairly obvious in what it does.

I fully accept that the amendment is probably technically defective. I was of course never intending to do anything other than trying to focus the issue, given that we have the consultation paper. I was hoping to take your Lordships’ views on this so that this might in due course, perhaps, be fed into the Treasury’s response to this White Paper.

The provision is not gender-exclusive. It would not exclusively apply to NEST. I would have it available for all pensions and, again, I would not particularly get hung up about what it was used for. Nor would I worry too much about the issue of moral hazard, providing we cap the amount that people can withdraw, which is why I would not go for the 401(k) models, because too many of them run their schemes right down and that is undesirable.

I fear that too many women may opt out of NEST or—this is more likely—fail to continue in NEST when the first financial crisis of many hits them in their lives and they realise they cannot access the money and they have nothing else. At that point the contributions of those individuals will drop off like a stone. How do we prevent that? We prevent it by running the two alongside each other and produce a package for women where it is attractive to save.

We have discussed it. I am very grateful for the support and encouragement around the House tonight. With your Lordships’ permission, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 22 withdrawn.

Clause 15 : Indexation and revaluation

Amendments 23 to 27 not moved.

My Lords, it is a great pity that the Minister does not have to face the amendments of the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes. Some of us endured that for a couple of years. It seems to me quite outrageous that he does not have the opportunity to do so tonight.

My Lords, I am very sad that the noble Lord is outraged.

Schedule 4 : Pension Protection Fund

Amendment 28

Moved by

28: Schedule 4, page 28, line 42, leave out “and (9)”

My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments 29 and 31 in this group.

These amendments relate to Schedule 4, which deals with the Pension Protection Fund. This is a complex area of legislation and further consideration has identified a few small changes that are needed to clarify the legislation. All of them are minor and technical in nature.

Amendments 28 and 29 remove the application of Section 143(9) when the board is obtaining a valuation for a scheme applying for a reconsideration to enter the fund. This reference is not relevant in the case of an application for reconsideration where the board’s power to obtain a valuation is discretionary. It will still apply to an initial scheme valuation or determination under Section 143 of the Pensions Act.

Amendments 30 and 31 result from changes made to Section 152 and Schedule 7 to the Pensions Act 2004, which deal with the duty of the board of the Pension Protection Fund to assume responsibility for a scheme on reconsideration and the pension compensation provisions. They simply update some cross-references to include new provisions that would be introduced by the Bill.

My noble friend Lord Freud has written in greater detail to noble Lords who have taken part in this House’s consideration of the Bill and placed a copy of the letter in the Library. I hope that with the detail in that letter and with this concise verbal explanation, noble Lords will feel able to support these amendments. I beg to move.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for her explanation and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Freud, for his prior written communications with my noble friend Lord McKenzie. We are happy with the explanations and can see the logic of the amendments. As a past member of the founding board of the Pension Protection Fund I am deeply fond of that organisation, and anything that improves its efficient operations will always have my support.

Amendment 28 agreed.

Amendments 29 to 31

Moved by

29: Schedule 4, page 29, line 9, leave out from “section” to end of line 11

30: Schedule 4, page 29, line 11, at end insert—

“ In the following provisions of the Pensions Act 2004 after “152(2)” insert “or (2B)”—

(a) section 154(2)(c) (requirement to wind up certain schemes), and(b) section 172(4) and (5)(c) (fraud compensation regime).”

31: Schedule 4, page 31, line 37, at end insert—

“( ) In each of the following after “21” insert “or 21A”—

(a) paragraph 25(1) (early payment of compensation),(b) paragraph 25(3) (as amended by paragraph 12 of Schedule 8 to the Pensions Act 2008),(c) in paragraph 25B(4) (terminal illness lump sum) paragraph (b) of the definition of “relevant age”, and(d) paragraph 28(8)(c) (annual increase in periodic compensation).”

Amendments 29 to 31 agreed.

House adjourned at 9.32 pm.