Pensioner Trustees and Final Payments

– in the House of Commons at 12:31 pm on 18th March 2003.

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Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South 12:31 pm, 18th March 2003

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to give pensioner members of occupational pension schemes the statutory right to be member-nominated trustees of such schemes, and to guarantee the final payments of such schemes;
and for connected purposes.

Given the seriousness of the occasion, I shall try to be as brief as possible.

It is the second time that I have introduced a pensioner trustees Bill. Many hon. Members will remember the mis-selling of occupational pensions in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many people lost out and did not get the pension that they expected. The previous Government encouraged people to join such schemes.

Many occupational pension benefits are reduced for retired members who have no say. Recently, the Rolls-Royce retired members' committee organised a meeting in Coventry at which 400 retired members turned up. That shows the seriousness of the issue; it is always difficult to get more than 10 people to attend a public meeting.

Major companies now end final payment schemes without consultation, and there is a problem with pension scheme deficits. Companies such as Rolls-Royce have schemes that are more than £1 billion in the red. GlaxoSmithKline has a potential deficit of £1.3 billion.

A company can wind up its pension scheme even if it has no financial difficulties. Occupational pensions formed part of the wage settlement in the past, especially in the 1970s, as I am sure that many hon. Members remember. A clawback clause provided for offsetting an occupational pension to take account of a state pension.

My Bill would provide for the presence of one retired members' representative on any pensions board to represent the interests of retired members. The retired member trustee, representing those with occupational pensions, would have the same rights as other trustees. He or she will be required to act in the interests of all members of the scheme.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Jim Cunningham, Ms Debra Shipley, Mr. Stephen McCabe, Mr. Bill Olner, Andy King and Mr. Lindsay Hoyle.