Clause 91 - Administration levy

Pensions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 25th 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 a couple of specific questions that I am sure the Under-Secretary will be able to answer without too many difficulties.

Subsection (2)(a) states that the administration levy shall be payable to the Secretary of State on behalf of

''trustees or managers of an eligible scheme''.

That makes sense. However, subsection (2)(b) refers to ''any other prescribed person.'' I wish to know what kinds of people it is envisaged will be covered by that.

Subsection (5) states:

''An amount payable by a person on account of an administration levy is a debt due from him to the Secretary of State.''

This is one of those strange provisions where the Secretary of State seems to have a major role. The Government go in and out of focus on the general point. A few moments ago we heard the Under-Secretary talk eloquently about how the PPF will be a separate and independent organisation—that it does not need Government backing and it will go off and do its own thing. We all have our own views about that. However, here we suddenly learn that the Secretary of State is the person who can recover the debt when the administration levy is not paid. That strikes me as illogical, but the Under-Secretary is waving a sheet of paper so there may be a very good explanation for it.

Photo of Mr Chris Pond Mr Chris Pond Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions

The clause addresses how the administration levy is paid. This organisation is to be set up at arm's length from the Government, so its administration costs—including the costs of setting up the PPF—will be funded through grant in aid, as is the case with most executive non-departmental public bodies. The grant in aid will be paid by the Secretary of State out of money provided by Parliament, and will be recovered through the PPF administration levy. The clause sets out the detail of how the costs will be recovered through the administration levy.

On the hon. Gentleman's specific question about who the other persons are, I can confirm to him that they are scheme administrators. I have forgotten his second question; will he refresh my memory?

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Conservative, Eastbourne

Why is the Secretary of State rearing his ugly head? I do not mean that literally, of course.

Photo of Mr Chris Pond Mr Chris Pond Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions

Although the PPF will be an independent body set at arm's length from the Government, it is important that it is accountable to Parliament for its actions. It will be funded by grant in aid, which means that once the funds have been made available to it, it is within the constraints set out in the terms and conditions of that clause

It being twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned till this day at Two o'clock.