Amendment 4

Part of Financial Services and Markets Bill - Report (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 6 June 2023.

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Photo of Lord Davies of Brixton Lord Davies of Brixton Labour 7:00, 6 June 2023

My Lords, I support the amendments in this group, particularly Amendment 93. It is always a pleasure to follow my noble friend Baroness Drake, who has said it all. I will join on the back of her comments to say that I strongly support the approach she has taken.

I also support Amendment 113 from the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman. I respect the extent to which some concerns have been taken into account to make it clear that the interests of the members are paramount in the amendment—that is crucial. On the idea that pension funds should have a more active role in growing our economy, obviously its time has come. It is not new—people have been making suggestions about it; I have been involved in it in the past—but there now seems to be a confluence of views that something must be done. However, it has to be done in a way that respects the fiduciary duty to put the interests of members front and centre in the decisions that are taken. I take a fairly broad view of what constitutes members’ interests, but it is the members and their trustees acting on their behalf who have to take that decision, rather than bodies which do not have the direct results inflicted on them if they get it wrong.

It is important to stress that any ideas have to be practical and effective. I have some doubt as to whether the problem we face is about the supply of money; rather, it is about how the money will be used. Putting these proposals forward without having the other side of the bargain improved will be a problem. It is also important to stress that there are very different types of schemes, and they all have different investment needs. Again, whatever guidance is given has to respect the particular types of schemes.

I have one concern, which I would like the Minister to address, about the phrase “have regard to” in relation to guidance. It appears in the government amendment and in Amendment 113 put forward and supported by my noble colleagues. The problem with the “have regard to” is that it is a legal lottery. It is very difficult to know in advance what exactly it means, so it would be very helpful to me, and I hope the House, if the Minister could say something about that. Is it, as is sometimes suggested, like the accounting requirement—you comply or explain—or do you have to, in some way or another, follow the requirements as they are set out? What does “have regard to” mean in this legislation? It would be good to have clarification during the progress of the Bill, because the phrase appears several times.