Schedule 1

Part of Pensions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 5th February 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Shadow Minister, Work & Pensions 11:30 am, 5th February 2008

I am not at all content. The Minister is giving us no assurances about there not being grants of any size for whatever purpose—presumably they will be non-recoverable. Nor has he been prepared to give any assurances about commercial rates of interest and repayment over a sensible and normal period. However, he has promised us that when such things are done, they will be transparent. That means that we will get to know about them, which is great. I am not an expert on the European legislation, but I think that the Europeans might have something to say about a non-interest bearing loan, let alone a grant. With all due respect to the Minister, I do not want to leave it to the European Union to sort this out. We need to know the situation now.

The Minister has not said—quite the opposite—that he would not be in the business of issuing grants or non-interest-bearing loans to PADA. In this Bill, it is very important that we set out the parameters for PADA—not only for funding, but for other things—so that it knows that it can cut its coat according to its cloth. The cloth must be made available. If it is apparent to PADA that an escape route of Government grants or non-interest-bearing loans will always be available, it might not concentrate its mind as much as it should on getting its sums right. Whatever deal—to use the Minister’s word—is concocted between the Treasury and PADA, it needs to be known about in advance.

The industry has a legitimate concern about a level playing field. The Minister still talks about long-term rather than medium-term funding when most organisations are in the business of predicting profit and loss. I am not content. Unless the Minister can give me more reassurances, I am minded to press the amendment to a Division.