Clause 190 - Construction as one with the Pensions Act 1995

Pensions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 23rd March 2004.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Conservative, Eastbourne

I have only one question for the Minister. What does the clause mean?

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Minister for pensions, Department for Work and Pensions

I should have thought that that was fairly obvious. Clause 190 provides for the terminology used in part 3 of the Bill to be interpreted as having the same meaning as it does in part 1 of the Pensions Act 1995. I imagine that the hon. Gentleman voted in favour of that Act. I regard him as a scholar of that legislation.

The clause is needed to ensure consistency between the provisions in part 1 of the aforesaid Act and part 3 of this Bill. Part 1 of the 1995 Act contains the regulatory framework for occupational pension schemes and the provisions in part 3 of the Bill relate to scheme funding.

Photo of Gregory Barker Gregory Barker Opposition Whip (Commons)

For the benefit of hon. Members who were not in Parliament in 1995, would the Minister care to refresh our memories about what that Act said?

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Minister for pensions, Department for Work and Pensions

That is one of those questions where the answer is known already. Sections 124 and 125 of that Act define the bulk of the terms used in the legislation, such as ''member,'' ''actuary''—it does not refer to a ''cautious actuary''—and ''employer.'' Clause 190 ensures that those terms have the same meaning when used in the scheme funding provisions.

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Conservative, Eastbourne

I just want things to be made clear. The question was not wholly fatuous. The jury is still out on the nature of the answer. Does the phrase ''as one'' simply mean that words in the Bill mean the same as they did in the 1995 Act, or does it go further than that? If there is a clash between, for example, powers and responsibilities in the two pieces of legislation, how would that be resolved? If the Minister is saying, ''This clause simply states that the definitions of words and terms of art in that Act are being carried forward'', I would be slightly bemused as that is not what the clause states, but I would be happy to accept that.

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Minister for pensions, Department for Work and Pensions

This is simple and straightforward stuff; it just does not sound as though it is. I agree with the hon. Gentleman on that. The intention is to ensure that there is consistent terminology and vocabulary across the two pieces of legislation. For example, in clause 186(3) the term ''members'' has the same meaning as in section 124(1) of the 1995 Act. I

would never dare to refer to the hon. Gentleman as wholly fatuous.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 190 ordered to stand part of the Bill.