Clause 124 - Climate change risk

Pension Schemes Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 9:03 pm on 16th November 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Votes in this debate

Amendment proposed: 16, page 118, line 45, leave out subsection (8) and insert—

‘(8) In this section and in sections 41AA, 41B and 41C—

(a) “the Paris Agreement goal” means the objectives set out in Articles 2 and 4.1 of the agreement done at Paris on 12 December 2015; and

(b) “other climate change goal” means any climate change goal approved by the Secretary of State, but does not apply to a climate change goal which fails to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement goal.

41AA Alignment with the Paris Agreement goal

‘(1) Trustees or managers of occupational pension schemes of a prescribed description must develop, set and implement, and from time to time review and if necessary revise, a strategy for ensuring that their investment policy, objectives and practices (including stewardship activities) are aligned with the Paris Agreement goal or other climate change goal.

(2) Such a strategy is to be known as a “Paris-alignment strategy”.

(3) The objective of a Paris-alignment strategy must be to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner, consistent with the Paris Agreement goal or other climate change goal.

(4) Provision may be made by regulations—

(a) requiring the trustees or managers of a scheme, in determining or revising a Paris-alignment strategy, to take into account prescribed matters and follow prescribed principles—

(i) as to the level of detail required in a Paris-alignment strategy; and

(ii) as to the period within which a Paris-alignment strategy must be developed, set and effected;

(b) requiring annual reporting on the implementation of the Paris-alignment strategy and progress against the objective set out in subsection (3); and

(c) requiring a Paris-alignment strategy to be reviewed, and if necessary revised, at such intervals and on such occasions as may be prescribed.’—(Jonathan Reynolds.)

This amendment enables regulations that would mandate occupational pension schemes to develop a strategy for ensuring that their investments and stewardship activities are aligning with the Paris agreement goals, and include an objective of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division number 171 Pension Schemes Bill [Lords] — Clause 124 - Climate change risk

Aye: 256 MPs

No: 354 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

The House divided: Ayes 256, Noes 356.

Question accordingly negatived.

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.

Third Reading

Queen’s consent signified.

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 9:42 pm, 16th November 2020

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

This is a hugely—

Photo of Felicity Buchan Felicity Buchan Conservative, Kensington

My hon. Friend is aware of my constituent Mr John Walker’s landmark case in the Supreme Court, where he secured equal pension rights for single-sex married couples. Will my hon. Friend assure me that although that currently is the law in the UK, he will find a way to enshrine it in statute?

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I congratulate my hon. Friend on making her point so eloquently and intervening speedily in this short Third Reading speech. I can confirm that the law stays as per the Supreme Court decision, even after we leave the EU. I stand by what I wrote to her in the detailed letter that I drafted to her in October, a copy of which I will place in the House of Commons Library to set the matter firmly on the record.

Before I was so generously interrupted, I was saying that this is a hugely important piece of legislation with cross-party support, for which I thank colleagues from all parties, including Jack Dromey, who cannot be with us tonight. The Bill will affect the lives of millions of our constituents throughout the country; make pensions safer, better and greener; stop scams; introduce CDCs; create pension dashboards; and crack down on callous crooks who take away our constituents’ pensions. It also legislates for a new type of pension scheme, establishing the dashboard and making pensions fundamentally greener. I commend the Bill to the House.

Photo of Jonathan Reynolds Jonathan Reynolds Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 9:44 pm, 16th November 2020

I thank all colleagues for their participation in today’s proceedings and throughout the passage of the Bill. In particular, I thank the Minister; my hon. Friends the Members for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra) and for Westminster North (Ms Buck), who led for the Opposition in Committee; and Sophia Morrell and Lily Lewis from our staff teams. I pay tribute to the shadow Pensions Minister, my hon. Friend Jack Dromey. He is a peerless source of knowledge, wisdom and advice, and he has played a significant role in this legislation. Unfortunately, he could not participate in Committee or today’s proceedings because the House does not have in place the measures required to allow all MPs to participate safely on an equal basis during the pandemic. This is clearly not a satisfactory situation, and I know that many Government Members concur with that. I welcome the moves today to finally get this resolved.

On the whole, this has been a positive experience. Perhaps the most significant change made in the Bill is the introduction of the new collective defined-contribution schemes, which we will have to monitor carefully, as well as more substantive measures of benefit to our constituents. This legislation deserves to pass its Third Reading, and it will do so with the support of the Opposition.

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions) 9:45 pm, 16th November 2020

Like others, I wish to put on record my thanks to the Clerks, Huw Yardley and Kenneth Fox, and to Djuna Thurley in the Library, for their support. I also thank our SNP researchers Zoe Carre and Linda Nagy for their fantastic assistance, as well as my hon. Friend Richard Thomson for his considerable and informed support in Committee.

This Bill takes matters forward in the pensions world. It could have gone further, and I regret that it does not, but we thank the Minister and the other parties for working together constructively on such an important piece of legislation. We look with interest to its further stages in the other place.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Chair, Work and Pensions Committee, Chair, Work and Pensions Committee 9:46 pm, 16th November 2020

I echo the thanks that have been expressed by all three Front-Bench spokespeople. I welcome the content of the Bill and the progress made on collective defined-contribution schemes and the pensions dashboard. I was looking back at a report of the Work and Pensions Committee published before I became the Chair, which said:

“A pensions dashboard is long overdue”— then I looked at the date of the report, and it was 2015. It will still be another three years before we get that dashboard, but the Bill is undoubtedly a very important step forward in that journey.

I welcome the commitments that the Minister made on scams and addressing the changes that are needed. I was disappointed that when I intervened on him on Report, he was not able to reaffirm the commitment that the Department appeared to have, and which was expressed on his behalf in the other place on 1 May 2018, that Pension Wise should become “the norm”.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Chair, Work and Pensions Committee, Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

That is welcome. We agree, then, that taking up Pension Wise guidance should be the norm, and I look forward to working with him on making that a reality from the very distant place we are in at the moment. I welcome the progress that the Bill represents, and I look forward to it being firmly on the statute book.

Photo of Wendy Chamberlain Wendy Chamberlain Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Wales), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Scotland), Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Work and Pensions) 9:48 pm, 16th November 2020

There is nothing more for me to say, other than to add my thanks to Members of this House and the other place for their work on the Bill. There is much to recommend the Bill, and I look forward to seeing how it progresses.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 9:49 pm, 16th November 2020

I thank Members and the Minister for their contributions on Third Reading. I look forward to bringing to the Minister’s door issues on behalf of my constituents, which he has been very generous in responding to in the past. I know that he will not be averse to me calling at his door, and that as always, he will respond in a positive fashion. That is the sign of a good Minister.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with amendments.