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Part of Pension Schemes Bill – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 27th January 2015.

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Photo of Lord German Lord German Liberal Democrat 3:15 pm, 27th January 2015

My Lords, before I listen to answers from the Benches opposite, I shall ask the Minister a few questions. If he feels that it is not appropriate for him to reply, perhaps members of the Labour Front Bench might give me the answers.

My understanding is that the number of schemes without trustees—those referred to in this amendment—is of the order of 40,000 to 47,000. I have no problem with independent trustees or trust-based pension schemes: my question is about the scale of the impact of this amendment. If 46,000 or 47,000 schemes—if that is the number of schemes required by this amendment to set up boards of independent trustees—are required to find trustees, there would, first, be a drag on finding that number of suitably-qualified people to fulfil those roles. I wonder where such people might be found.

Secondly, is there a cost to such a change? Changing these schemes is bound to cost them money. Given that the Government have put in place the 0.75 per cent cap, which means that more than 99 pence in the pound of every pension contribution goes towards the benefit—the pension that comes out at the other end—is there any way that that cost would have to fall on the member benefits? In other words, would the need to pay the costs of so many changes to a large number of schemes reduce people’s pensions?

My final question relates to the role of the independent governance committees that are set up. My understanding —perhaps my noble friend could confirm it—is that these committees were set up as a result of the report of the Office of Fair Trading and are a government response to that request. If that is so, perhaps my noble friend could tell me what the role and responsibilities of the IGCs are which can be fulfilled, and which would perhaps fill the trustee role in the schemes where there is no trust-based system as required by this amendment?