Fit and proper persons requirement

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

No, I confirm that that was not the Minister’s intention at all. As we get through the regulations for this Bill, it is precisely that kind of case that we need to take into consideration, and there may be others. An IFA, of course, would be regulated and deemed to be a fit and proper person by the FCA. I am not very familiar with those rules, because they are outside my area of responsibility, but I think that they are pretty stringent and that they might be directly comparable to those under the Pensions Regulator. However, it is a fair point. In fact, most companies in the position to which my hon. Friend refers usually have to go to a professional adviser to be able to make that decision, because they have neither the time nor the experience to make the decision themselves, unless they are a very large company with suitable employees.

The regulation-making powers are needed to respond to developments in the market where the structures of master trusts might evolve to include other functions. There is a regulation-making power that enables regulations to specify matters that the regulator must take into account when assessing whether someone is a fit and proper person. As with other provisions in the Bill, we intend to work closely with industry, regulators and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in developing these regulations, as well as conducting formal consultation.

The clause also gives the regulator a discretion to take into account other matters as it considers appropriate when carrying out the fit and proper person test, including matters related to a person connected to the person being assessed. That will give the regulator the flexibility to ensure that it can be fully satisfied that the criteria for a fit and proper person have been met and not avoided on technicalities.

The fit and proper person criteria are a key part of the new regime for master trusts. They relate to the competence and propriety of those responsible for the pension savings of thousands workers.