Pension Schemes Bill — Committee (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 7th January 2015.

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Photo of Lord Bradley Lord Bradley Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 7:15 pm, 7th January 2015

My Lords, I draw attention to the wording of this amendment because I am sure that it will be welcomed by the Government and that they will wish to produce and deliver such an annual review to Parliament.

When the press release that accompanied the Bill was issued, it gave me the impression that the Government envisaged that Part 2 would lead to a number of new combined collective defined benefit schemes coming into operation. However, as we have seen the Bill being considered in this House and in the other place, the number of schemes coming into operation has been cooling and the Government have been more reticent to be clear about how many new schemes they anticipate will be set up.

This is why, among other things, the number of schemes should be included in an annual review to see whether provisions in the Bill adequately enable collective defined contribution schemes to be set up. That cannot and should not be the only measure. We do not wish such an annual report to cover only quality, but it would be useful for Parliament and the public more broadly to be kept aware of how the policy is unfolding.

There is also the wider point that a number of issues that have been raised in Committee today have centred on the speed with which the Bill is passing through both Houses of Parliament, the number of changes to the Bill in that process and the ability to scrutinise secondary legislation alongside primary legislation. All this leads to the conclusion that an annual report to Parliament would be a very effective way of giving assurances that all is well with the implementation of the Bill and indicating specifically the consequences around CDCs.

I accept that the first annual review—if, or when, this amendment is accepted—might be rather thin because, as we heard earlier, the regulations for Part 2 will not come into force until later in the year. However, I do not think that undermines the basic point that legislation of this type should be reviewed and presented to Parliament on an annual basis. I believe that the Government will welcome the publication of such a report, principally because these new schemes are part of the overall package of changes which have been hailed by Ministers as a pensions revolution. It will enable the Government to communicate to Parliament, and more importantly to the public, how these packages of reforms are rolling out, how they are working in practice and how they are achieving the policy objectives which the Government have laid out, not only with the Pension Schemes Bill but with the Taxation of Pensions Act and the other pensions provisions that have been put through Parliament. I accept that this amendment only applies to collective schemes, but it establishes a principle about reporting to Parliament on the pensions changes more broadly. It is a peg on which to hang a package of reporting and a way in which we can continue to have the ability to question and scrutinise a very important area of policy for millions of people in this country. I beg to move.