Pensions Bill

– in a Public Bill Committee on 29th January 2008.

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[Janet Anderson in the Chair]

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Shadow Minister, Work & Pensions 10:30 am, 29th January 2008

On a point of order, Mrs. Anderson. I would like to take this opportunity to ask the Minister if he could update the Committee on where we are with the drafting of amendments relating to the financial assistance scheme that would extend the basis of compensation for pensions victims.

Photo of Mike O'Brien Mike O'Brien Minister of State (Pension Reform), Department for Work and Pensions

We intend to bring forward amendments in the coming weeks to ensure that the Committee and the House as a whole have an opportunity to debate them. The amendments will relate to compensation levels—getting them up to 90 per cent.—and some other issues that can be dealt with by regulation. I very much hope that, before this Bill is through, we will have the regulations, or at least some of the key ones. As for the amendments to be included in this Bill, it will probably be two or three weeks before we are in a position to share them with the Committee, as parliamentary counsel are still working on them. I hope that that is helpful.

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Shadow Minister, Work & Pensions

I am grateful for what the Minister has to say and appreciate that parliamentary draftsmen do not always work at the fastest rate. Clearly, it would be helpful to have a good amount of sea room before the scheduled end of the Committee so that we will know how much time we will have to devote to these very important matters and do not run out of time for either those amendments or other new clauses at the end of this stage.

I would also like to confirm, and this is true of both Opposition parties, our happiness with a very short consultation period on the regulations—a period of a fortnight, rather than the normal requirement—so that we can get on with getting money to the people who need it.

Photo of Mike O'Brien Mike O'Brien Minister of State (Pension Reform), Department for Work and Pensions

I am grateful for that. We will get these amendments drafted as quickly as we can. We will obviously want to consult, and we will make sure that Committee members get the opportunity to see the drafts as soon as we are able to provide them so that they are able to contribute to the consultation. I hear what the Opposition parties are saying and I will endeavour to be as helpful as I reasonably can.