Clause 61

Part of Pensions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:30 pm on 5th February 2008.

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Photo of James Plaskitt James Plaskitt Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions 12:30 pm, 5th February 2008

I am about to come to that very point. I am sure that if the hon. Gentleman will just hang five, we will get there.

This is a major project, and although the regulator will be leading on delivery, there are benefits at this stage to be gained from sharing expertise. Many of the challenges in setting up an effective compliance regime are not dissimilar to the challenges in establishing the personal accounts scheme; for instance, specialist planning and project support for what is, clearly, a large programme. There is a significant amount of preparatory work to be done on the design of the compliance processes.

That work needs to start quickly, and we do not want to jeopardise the timetable for delivery. We think that the most effective approach to the scale of the project is for the regulator and the Department to utilise the authority’s resources, skills and expertise in the design of the personal accounts scheme, and in support of the establishment of a compliance process. I believe that the hon. Gentleman accepts that that is of critical importance.

Amendment No. 35 would prevent the regulator having access to the authority’s experts in such areas as project management, procurement and design. I am aware that in taking the approach that we are, there could be a perceived conflict of interest between delivering the personal accounts scheme and supporting delivery of the broader compliance regime. I believe that that is what is exercising hon. Members in this group of amendments.

Let me be absolutely clear: the regulator, not the delivery authority, will be responsible for ensuring that the compliance regime is fit for purpose. That is a clear distinction. The role of the authority will be restricted to supporting delivery of the compliance processes, and clause 61 simply enables it to carry out that role. Its detailed remit will be set out in other documentation, largely the framework document still to come. It will clearly specify the degree of the authority’s responsibilities in supporting the regulator, and also its more substantial role in respect of personal accounts.