Pension Schemes Bill — Committee (1st Day)

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 7:00 pm, 7th January 2015

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for moving this amendment. Clause 25 contains a power to require in regulations that trustees or managers of schemes providing collective benefits must have, and follow, a policy for calculating and verifying the cash equivalents of a member’s collective benefits. Cash equivalents may be needed when a member transfers to another scheme or for the purpose of sharing a pension on divorce, for example. Clause 25 allows for regulations to be made requiring the trustees or managers of a scheme offering collective benefits to set up and follow a policy for the calculation and verification of cash equivalents for collective benefits. The regulations can, among other things, require the trustees or managers to consult about the policy, require that the policy is consistent with regulations about calculating transfer values and other relevant legislation, make provision about the content of the policy, set out matters that have to be taken into account when putting the policy together, and make provision about reviewing and revising the policy.

Delegating to secondary legislation will allow the department to consult on the views of the pension industry, in the wider sense of involving pension groups as well, to ensure that the provisions set out in regulations will capture potential future varieties of collective benefits. The regulations will need to include a fair amount of technical detail, and some of the requirements will be largely procedural in nature. We therefore consider that the negative resolution procedure is the most appropriate form of parliamentary scrutiny here. In the process of parliamentary scrutiny there needs to be a balance between legislative scrutiny and the need to produce secondary legislation in a responsive and speedy way when needed. The requirement for the affirmative procedure in every case as required by this amendment would make it harder to deliver and maintain the regulations that the industry and members need, and would not in our view be an appropriate use of parliamentary time.

It is significant that the 12th report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, which considered the Bill, did not make recommendations as regards Clause 25. I am not convinced that the arguments made elsewhere by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee—which we have largely, although admittedly not totally, accepted—apply in the same way here. The committee was rightly concerned about regulations that have shaped collective benefits. Regulations about policies on calculating cash equivalents are not about shaping collective benefits but about how to put a cash equivalent value on a collective benefit when a member asks for a transfer or, as I said, on such an issue as divorce. Those are important matters, but they are largely technical and procedural, and we believe that they are more appropriate for the negative procedure. On that basis, I hope I have dealt with the issues raised by the noble Lord, and I respectfully ask him to withdraw his amendment.