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.

Alert me about debates like this

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

Oddly enough, I do, and equally oddly, I do not suppose that the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East will accept the recommendation. I hope, however, that we can unite, as my hon. Friend says, on new clause 5, because it ensures proper governance of collective schemes providing collective benefits.

Finally, on the issue of IGCs, which the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East wants to dismiss even though it is what the OFT concluded was the right answer to the problems they discovered, the provider’s board has a comply or explain duty in response to recommendations from the IGC. If the IGC is not content with the board’s response, it can escalate to the FCA and to members of the scheme. That is crucial. If I am running a pension scheme and the governance committee in charge of it says, “Unless you sort this problem out, every member of the scheme is going to know that we are not satisfied with the way this scheme is being run,” that is a huge threat. That is like having a hand grenade threatening to go off. They can go to the regulator, they can go to the scheme, they can go to the employer and they can go public. Coupled with the IGC’s duty to act in the members’ interests, this is a practical, direct way of ensuring that members’ interests are acted on. We believe that new clause 5 is proportionate, effective regulation, which is particularly needed for the new forms of collective benefits, but that it is not over-regulation, as is the case with new clause 14.