Clause 1

Part of Pensions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 22nd January 2008.

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Photo of Danny Alexander Danny Alexander Liberal Democrat, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey 10:30 am, 22nd January 2008

I would be grateful for the Minster’s thoughts on one further item in relation to clause 1. Subsection (2) states:

“Where a jobholder has more than one employer, or a succession of employers, this Chapter applies separately in relation to each employment.”

It must of course be right that for people with multiple jobs that reach the qualifying earnings limit each employment be treated separately, for the purposes of the Bill. I am concerned about that category of people—those in multiple employment—and I would be grateful for the Minister’s thoughts.

In my constituency, for example, there are people working in the tourism industry. Someone might have a series of seasonal jobs, such as a winter job in the skiing industry—for as long as it survives the ravages of global warming—and then several summer jobs in different tourism employments throughout the season. This clause states that the Bill applies separately to each job. If such people do not reach the qualifying earnings limits in each job, they will not be in a position to benefit from personal accounts, despite the fact that over the course of their three or four jobs they might well build up a total income of £10,000 or £12,000 a year.

The personal accounts delivery authority has pointed out that additional complexity of that sort adds to the cost and therefore reduces the overall benefit to people enrolling in personal accounts, which I understand. Can the Minister tell us how—if at all—he thinks that there is a way around that problem for those people? One suspects that the target audience will include people in multiple low-income employment who are not saving for themselves, for whom the only option is to take out a personal pension and to contribute as and when they can. It would be helpful if a way were found to enable such people to benefit from personal accounts without adding to the administrative burden. I have not tabled an amendment on that point, because I do not have a proposal. I simply want to hear the Minister’s response to the question how the Bill relates to that group of people, and this seems like an opportune moment to raise it.