Clause 109 - Board to act as creditor of the employer

Pensions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm 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 small point to make, which has been raised by experts in the industry. Clause 109(2) provides that

''During the assessment period, the rights and powers of the trustees . . . in relation to any debt'',

including a statutory debt,

''are exercisable by the Board''.

I suppose it can be argued that it is implied that that will not be exercisable by the trustees. However, there is a feeling that it should be clear in the Bill that the board will have the same powers as the trustees to enter into what is called in the trade a Bradstock compromise. I should be grateful if the Under-Secretary clarifies that.

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

I do not want to be discourteous to the hon. Gentleman and hope that it is not out of order for me to deal with something that he raised earlier. We are moving at such a pace that although he asked about a question relating to amendment No. 408, he received no reply. I should say that Government amendment No. 376, which has been made, has the effect that he wanted. I hope that he is satisfied with that answer. I apologise for any apparent discourtesy.

As the hon. Gentleman said, clause 109 provides for any debt owed by the employer to the trustees or managers of a scheme to be regarded as a debt owed to the board and for the board, in this case, to be treated as a creditor of the employer during the assessment period. The purpose of that is to ensure that PPF can prevent trustees or managers from compromising the debt in any way and, therefore, increasing the liability of the PPF. The board can, if it so wishes, exercise the powers of the trustees or managers of the scheme in relation to any debt owed to them by the employer,

whether by virtue of section 75 of the Pensions Act 1995, or otherwise. That can be done to the exclusion of trustees. The board can, in such circumstances, use those powers to protect the position of scheme members and the PPF.

Clause 109 includes the ability to enter into the Bradstock arrangements should that be appropriate. I hope that with that clarification the Committee can accept the clause.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 109 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 110 ordered to stand part of the Bill.