Schedule 1

Part of Pensions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 5th February 2008.

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Photo of James Plaskitt James Plaskitt Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions 11:15 am, 5th February 2008

That brings us back to the heart of the debate. Indeed, it is the point that I am making—that before PADA has completed its work and before decisions are made on how the funding gap should be addressed, it is important to keep our options open. Without any of those things having been done, I cannot say now what precise circumstances would lead to a grant. It would fetter the operation if, at this stage, before any of those decisions had been made and that work done, the Government or PADA removed the possibility of extending the grant to the organisation.

As I said, it is standard practice when setting up non-departmental public bodies to have that funding option. That does not mean that it will be used, but given the scale of what has been taken on and given that PADA has yet to make decisions in respect of the funding structure, it would not make sense to remove one of the options. Indeed, it is sensible to include it in the suite of funding arrangements that the authority could draw upon.

I reassure the Committee that we have no intention of unfairly subsidising the personal accounts scheme. If any Government support is involved, it will be fully compliant with European requirements on competition and state aid. Transparency will ensure that it is also known about, which is clearly very important.