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Today has been a small step for mankind and great leap forward for the Bill. It is an historic occasion, which I hope will be recorded in the annals of infamy: the Government’s attempt for only the third time in 100 years to deny the House the right to debate the Bill on Report has crashed to failure. They could not even persuade their own Members to support their position on such an important matter. I trust that the Minister will not require us to go through this charade in our consideration of the rest of the Bill but will acknowledge that he must respect the will of the Committee and the House.
Clause 2 provides that the schemes are regulated by the pensions regulator, although it is hoped that a wider range of providers than the life offices that currently offer pension schemes will offer savings and retirement accounts. The authority in subsection (1) is, of course, the pensions regulator, and subsection (3) permits the regulator to refuse to register a scheme, or to remove a scheme from the register if it does not fulfil the conditions set out in clause 1.
On the point about the historic character of what is going on, it is true, so far as I am aware, that there have been only two precedents in which the Government succeeded in deleting all the clauses of a private Member’s Bill. What we do not know, of course, is how many attempts the Government have made to do that in the past 100 years. I suspect that that number is rather larger.
I suggest to my hon. Friends that, consistent with the view that I have expressed to the Committee, we should also resist clause 2, although it certainly is a fairly natural consequence of clause 1. Has the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington and Chelsea given any thought to the extent of the additional costs that might be involved in registering the accounts, given the risk-based approach that the regulator takes? I would be interested if he has any comments on that, but I urge my hon. Friends to resist clause 2.
I do not believe that there would be any significant additional cost. There is similar provision. As the Minister knows, the clauses are largely based on the stakeholder legislation. I do not think that cost has ever been used as an argument against that legislation, and I see no reason why it should be used against this proposal.