New Clause 5 - Duty to act in the best interests of members

Part of Pension Schemes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 4th November 2014.

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Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions 2:45 pm, 4th November 2014

What we want is proportionate good governance. We could spend the rest of the year passing more and more laws and putting in more and more requirements, but they will all have a cost. I think that when Labour was in government, it failed to recognise the flipside to regulatory burden.

We need regulation—we are passing regulations this afternoon—but we need proportionate regulation, not over-regulation. In a sense, the challenge is that we already have these pensions in place. Over time, there has been organic consolidation, which is to be welcomed. However, I do not think that there is evidence for using a sledgehammer and not only saying, “Trust, good; contract, not so good” but that trust is God and is the only acceptable form of pension scheme governance. Crucially—and this is relevant to the Bill—we are in a time of innovation. I want to stress that. We want people to come forward with new models. We want them to come up with collective benefits. We want them to come up with new forms of risk-sharing pensions. Simply to say that there is only one form of governance that could possibly do the job—and that is the proposition put forward by the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East—is over-restrictive at this point.