Pension Schemes Bill — Committee (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:32 pm on 7th January 2015.

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Photo of Baroness Drake Baroness Drake Labour 4:32 pm, 7th January 2015

My Lords, I have some sympathy with the thrust of Amendment 1, under which my noble friend seeks to protect pension savers from purchasing an annuity which is not good value for money or appropriate to their needs. If there was any doubt about the nature of the problems in the annuities market, the recent FCA report has clearly put those to rest. It makes evident the need for assisted paths for consumers through the annuity process. Notwithstanding the new freedoms, annuities still have an important role to play in securing retirement income, and we need the FCA urgently to push ahead with tackling the conduct of providers in the market. With the new freedoms and the anticipated product innovations that will flow from that, the Government and the saver are still very dependent on the market to make them a success and mitigate consumer risk.

The issue of assisting the consumer through the annuity process—the role of the employer, the responsibility of the saver and the role of the provider—is complex. No doubt later in Committee—at least, I hope we will; I hope that an amendment is winging its way—we will debate a second line of defence provision to control the conduct of providers selling retirement income products, including annuities, trying to enhance consumers’ protection when they are in the purchasing process. I hope that we can pursue in more detail how the Government can mitigate the pension saver’s risk when purchasing an annuity, when, I hope, we can get into a wider debate on a second line of defence across all retirement income products.