Financial Guidance and Claims Bill [HL] - Report (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 24th October 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Buscombe Baroness Buscombe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 4:15 pm, 24th October 2017

My Lords, I beg to differ. Despite the noble Lord’s extensive experience in another place, it is entirely possible for us to bring forward an amendment in the Commons to introduce such a ban.

As I was saying, we want to ban pensions cold calling because a private pension plan is often an individual’s most valuable asset. A ban will send a powerful message to consumers to put the phone down. My officials recently met a range of stakeholders to explore the details of the ban and are currently working on developing the details of the policy arrangements.

Pensions cold calling is also a complex area which we want to get right. Indeed, the recent discussion with stakeholders uncovered interesting questions around how to define existing relationships and express requests for information. The Government will continue to finalise these complex policy details and we intend to publish draft legislation for scrutiny in early 2018. Following this, we will legislate at the earliest opportunity. This gives us the opportunity to develop legislation which is more carefully targeted and allows us to make proper provision for enforcement which this current draft does not allow.

The Government have listened and want to work at pace to introduce a targeted response which will strengthen the arrangements already in place. However, the proposed approach in this amendment could delay implementation of any such ban. If this amendment were passed, the Government would first have to wait for the body to be set up. It is not expected to be set up and operational until October 2018. Then, recommendations would have to be made to the Secretary of State. No doubt, this would not be immediate because this body will have a huge amount of work to undertake when it is first set up. So it could be at least another year or two before any consideration could be made, prior to a recommendation being put to the Secretary of State to introduce such a ban. Then the Secretary of State would have to make and lay affirmative regulations.

The noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, said that we need protection now. If Amendment 2 were passed, there would be much more delay than if the Government were to wait.