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 Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 7:15 pm, 7th January 2015

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bradley, for moving this amendment. I will say a little about our approach. As I think noble Lords are aware, our approach is about enabling choice. While the number of schemes is important, it is not the only measure of success.

The Bill enables schemes providing collective benefits to be set up where employers and providers wish to do so. We believe that this Bill will stimulate greater innovation and choice, allowing employers to adopt the sort of arrangements available in other countries—we have spoken previously of the Netherlands, Denmark and Canada—if it is right for them and for their employees. The number of schemes is an important issue, but it is certainly not the only issue.

We believe that the development of schemes offering collective benefits could be more appropriately monitored in other ways than a bespoke annual review, which may become something of a tick-box approach. We envisage that this could be done through existing access through the Office for National Statistics, which conducts surveys and collects data, for example.

Perhaps more importantly and across the piece, the noble Lord indicated that this review is on only one small aspect of the legislation. There is much else in the legislation. The Cabinet Office Guide to Making Legislation already requires the relevant government department within three to five years after Royal Assent to submit to the relevant Commons departmental Select Committee a memorandum, to be published as a Command Paper, containing a preliminary assessment of how an Act is working in practice. No doubt, our House can pick up on that too.

I recognise that there is a genuine concern about providing information on how this aspect of the legislation is operating in practice and perhaps more widely than the noble Lord indicated in his contribution. There is a wider issue about how the rest of the legislation is operating. I will have a look at this to see what we can do. However, we believe that an annual review is somewhat bespoke and tick-box. We have a provision for a review within three to five years of the Bill passing, but if there is anything that we can do supplementary to that, and should be doing, I will come back on that on Report. I say that without any firm promise that we believe there is anything to do, but I am happy to look at it. On that basis, I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw the amendment.