Pension Schemes Bill — Committee (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 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) 7:00 pm, 7th January 2015

My Lords, Clause 25 gives the Secretary of State the power to require the trustees or managers of a pension scheme to have a policy concerning the cash equivalent of a pension within a collective scheme. It also requires the trustees or managers to consult on the matters and principles they need to follow when calculating and verifying the cash equivalent of a pension in a CDC scheme. This amendment would require the regulations issued under this section to be subject to the affirmative procedure. This clause was also a part of a very large group of amendments which the Government introduced at Report in the other place.

There remains a tension at the heart of this Bill. The Government have been forced—I do not think there is anything wrong in that—into making so many amendments in large part because of the introduction of freedoms and flexibility in the Budget of 2014. We support those freedoms as long as they can be introduced without harming middle and low earners and do not end up leaving people reliant on the state. But really, more should have been done to work out the effect that these policies would have on how the others would operate. As we have already shown, a large part of the benefit from a CDC scheme can lie in the intergenerational risk sharing that it makes possible. This is how the schemes operate elsewhere. However, if a large proportion of people opt out at 55 by choosing to get a product that enables them to access their money straight away, then that risk-sharing element ceases to be there to the same degree.

This raises the possibility of having knock-on effects on the probabilities of achieving certain targets within the scheme. My concern here is that further work needs to be done on the interaction between the changes in the Taxation of Pensions Bill—which being a money Bill has passed through its remaining stages here—and the changes in this Bill to enable collective schemes and risk sharing. A good start would be to require the affirmative procedure to be used for the regulations on cash equivalents. I therefore ask the Minister to respond to that point in as much detail as possible so that we can grasp the thinking behind the Government’s proposals. I beg to move.