Clause 126 - Postponement of compensation entitlement for the assessment period

Pensions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 30th March 2004.

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Amendment made: No. 492, in

clause 126, page 79, line 11, at end insert—

'( ) In subsection (1) the reference to ''normal pension age'' is to normal pension age, within the meaning of paragraph 31 of Schedule 7, in relation to the pension or lump sum in respect of which the entitlement to compensation arises.'.—[Malcolm Wicks.]

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

Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I have a short and simple question. The clause provides that entitlement may be delayed in prescribed circumstances. I am interested to know which circumstances the Government have in mind

and whether such a delay would be exceptional or quite routine.

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Conservative, Eastbourne

To some extent, the hon. Gentleman has stolen my thunder, in that I wanted to ask the same question about circumstances, but I shall range a little beyond it.

Is the clause designed to mirror the provisions that we have already dealt with on deferring the taking of the state pension? We are back with the ''black cat in a dark room'' syndrome. Is the clause related to new clauses that may or are likely to be tabled later to deal with a cliff-edge situation? [Interruption.] Yes, there seem to be several cliff edges, as the resident expert, the Minister, has pointed out, so let me specify which one I mean.

I am thinking of someone who works for Tesco, retires, wants to work part-time and goes to work down the road at Asda. Is there a read-across in such circumstances? It is difficult to know because, yet again, we are in the murky, distant land of regulations that we have not seen in draft and of circumstances that have not yet been explained, let alone prescribed. I am sure that we are all cheerful because we have waved a temporary goodbye to schedule 7, but some important issues arise on clause 126.

Photo of Mr Chris Pond Mr Chris Pond Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions 4:45 pm, 30th March 2004

The hon. Member for Eastbourne emphasised the fact that the Committee is now in a cheerful phase, and I feel that I have some responsibility for that, having ensured that my hon. Friend the Minister for Pensions had his bun during the tea-time voting break, which left him neither hot nor cross, but cool and measured in his approach.

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

My hon. Friend complains that he had only half, but it was the half with the cross.

Clause 126 provides for the board, when it assumes responsibility for an eligible scheme, to deal with any member's entitlement that was postponed during or for any part of the assessment period when the member continued in employment after attaining normal pension age. The clause ensures that if pension scheme members postponed taking up their entitlement because they decided to continue in work that will be taken into account in calculating the level of compensation payable by the PPF. Regulations may provide for the board in calculating a member's compensation to take account of any entitlement postponed during or for part of the assessment period.

In reply to questions raised in different ways by the hon. Members for Eastbourne and for Northavon, I can tell them that it is not the PPF's intention to allow members the option of postponing the compensation when they attain pension age during or after the assessment period. Scheme members who reach pension age when or after the PPF takes over the scheme will have no choice about taking their benefits as they fall due. Of course, if someone does not want to receive the compensation, they can put the payments into a savings account. There will not be

restrictions on working after normal pension age and receiving PPF compensation, if someone chooses to do that. There is read-across to potential Inland Revenue simplification that would affect the tax treatment of pensions in payment when members work for the same employer. The clause allows flexibility to deal with the Inland Revenue proposals.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 126, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.