Pension Schemes Bill — Committee (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 7th January 2015.

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Photo of Lord McAvoy Lord McAvoy Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow Spokesperson (Scotland) 6:00 pm, 7th January 2015

My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments 5 and 6. They follow recommendations made by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, which suggested that, on first use, the affirmative rather than the negative resolution process should be used. We agree. Despite the Government’s claim in the delegated powers memorandum that Clause 10 does not require affirmative resolution as the amendments would be “technical” and “procedural”, it would be good to hear further detail about the circumstances in which it could be used. Does the Minister see the power as a backstop that can be relied on in the event that a scheme manager is not considered to be acting in the best interests of the scheme members or has taken a decision that is likely to disadvantage them?

Clauses 10 and 11 are part of a larger group of clauses introduced on Report in the other place. As a result, on that and other points it is up to this Committee to ensure adequate scrutiny and ensure that there are no flaws in the drafting. In debating the provision, the Minister in another place said:

“We cannot do an impact assessment because we have not yet written the regulations”.—[Hansard, Commons, 25/11/14; col. 805.]

That is a slightly unsatisfactory way to legislate. Likewise, in explaining why so many amendments were produced late on, the Minister relied on the need to alter the Bill dramatically following the introduction of pension freedoms in Budget 2014. The fact that that was not anticipated suggests that something was left to be desired when it came to joined-up government thinking. We want parliamentary debate and scrutiny of the regulations published under the clauses following the conclusion of the Government’s consultation. On that basis, I beg to move.