Schedule 1

Part of Pensions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 5th February 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Paul Rowen Paul Rowen Shadow Minister, Work & Pensions 11:45 am, 5th February 2008

This debate follows our earlier discussion about the operation of the scheme. Amendment No. 61 has more merit than the other two amendments in the group and establishes the important principle that costs are recovered. The words used in the schedule—“may make charges”—are far too weak. We ought to accept that we are going to incur costs and that those will be recovered.

When we contrast the debate on amendments Nos. 61, 43 and 52 with that on amendments Nos. 68, 69 and 65, there is some incongruity. Amendment No. 43 specifies what the management fee will be, whereas earlier we were saying that we wanted to see published, as part of the annual report, proper analysis—actuarial research—about take-up, persistency and contributions, with the basic principle being to ensure that the costs are recovered. Obviously, that needs modelling over time. I wonder why the Conservatives have alighted on the five-year period to 2012. I hope that PADA will publish the various assumptions and models in respect of which it operates, once those are available. Without that modelling, it would be inappropriate for us to set a time frame in which any start-up costs should be met.

The principle behind amendments Nos. 43 and 50 is right: management costs should be as low as possible. PADA, through the consultation that it has announced, will take advice and publish a report that will set out initial assumptions about the management fee. If we can accept the initial findings of the Turner commission on having as low a management fee as possible, and if the Minister can assure us that that is the principle on which the personal accounts will be operated, that is fine. I accept that it is wrong to stipulate a time frame until the models have been made. However, the principle should be that once PADA has run the models and consulted over an agreed time frame, it should have to say that it expects the scheme to have recuperated its costs and then return any loans—it should not, hopefully, need any grants—and say that it is operating properly. To try to be too restrictive at this stage would be inappropriate, although I agree with the principle that the hon. Member for Eastbourne is putting forward.