Decision on application

Part of Pension Schemes Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 7 February 2017.

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Photo of Richard Harrington Richard Harrington The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 10:45, 7 February 2017

The clause sets out the procedure that the regulator must follow when it receives an application for authorisation from a master trust scheme. I draw the Committee’s attention to the precise wording of subsection (1), which states that the regulator

“must decide whether it is satisfied that the scheme meets the authorisation criteria.”

That is important, because it places the emphasis on the scheme seeking authorisation to demonstrate that it meets the required standards. If the regulator is not satisfied that it does, it will not grant authorisation.

It is important to ensure that a well-run, high-quality scheme is not unduly held up by the requirement to become authorised, so the clause requires the regulator to make a decision on an application within six months of receiving it. That is important in other areas of regulation; I know from my constituency work that many other industries complain that regulators take too long and hold them up when they want to comply. The six months is therefore a very good thing.

The clause is vital because it introduces the authorisation criteria. They are: first, that the persons involved in the scheme are fit and proper persons; secondly, that the scheme is financially sustainable; thirdly, that each scheme funder meets certain requirements; fourthly, that the systems and processes used in running the scheme are sufficient to ensure it is run effectively; and finally, that the scheme has an adequate continuity strategy. As I said previously, the criteria were designed to address the key risks for these types of scheme. They relate to the risks that members of other types of pension scheme are already protected from. The criteria are set out in further detail later in the Bill, and I am happy to discuss them when we come to those clauses.