Clause 5

Part of Pensions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 22nd January 2008.

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Photo of Danny Alexander Danny Alexander Liberal Democrat, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey 4:45 pm, 22nd January 2008

I look forward to the first contribution of the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to the Committee, in response to the amendments in the clause. I do not know whether he is good cop to the Minister’s bad cop, or maybe it is the other way around. We shall see.

The clause deals with automatic re-enrolment. It makes a great deal of sense to ensure that there is a regular opportunity for people who opt out to reconsider their position to be automatically re-enrolled. The amendment is fairly simple, so I do not intend to dwell on it for a great length of time. It is to try to establish that the timing of automatic re-enrolments be of maximum convenience to the employer, for reasons of administrative efficiency that we have been discussing previously. I think that that is also the purpose of amendment No. 15 tabled by the Conservatives. I note, for example, that the Engineering Employers Federation suggests that it hopes that that will include allowing employers to undertake the process on a fixed date, such as the start of the tax year.

Amendment No. 80 gives 1 April, the start of the tax year, as the suggested date, rather than the anniversary date of when the individual chose not to be auto-enrolled. If it was on that anniversary, automatic re-enrolments could go on in large companies almost every day of the year. One would wish to avoid that, in the interests of administrative efficiency. Whether the Government choose to accept the amendment or not, I hope that the Minister will accept the principle that automatic re-enrolment should fall on a specific date, perhaps every year, and that choosing a date, for example at the start of the tax year, that fits in with other changes that employers might be making in tax and salary rises would minimise the administrative burdens on employers. That would make the automatic re-enrolment process easier and, of course, more likely to go without a hitch.