Continuity option 2: resolving triggering event

Pension Schemes Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 7th February 2017.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Richard Harrington Richard Harrington The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The clause sets out the framework where a scheme pursues continuity option 2, which we have not mentioned in detail. The clause places a series of requirements on schemes and the regulator to ensure that a triggering event is resolved to the regulator’s satisfaction. Subsections (2) and (3) set out that once the trustees consider that they have resolved a triggering event, they must notify the Pensions Regulator, setting out how they consider that has been achieved. Subsection (4) provides for the time period for the notification to be prescribed in regulations. Subsection (5) requires the regulator, having considered a notification, to notify the trustees of whether it is satisfied that the event has been resolved.

Our aim is to ensure that where trustees decide to try to resolve a triggering event, they have the opportunity to do so, so that the scheme can continue and its members can continue to save in the scheme with as little disruption as possible. However, following a triggering event, the trustees must set out a comprehensive and detailed implementation strategy containing the steps that they plan to take. We consider a scheme that has had a triggering event to have increased risk—that really is part of the definition of a triggering event—so such schemes need greater and more in-depth planning, safeguards for members and employers, and greater protection for members. However, we want members to continue to save and employers to continue to comply with their legal automatic enrolment minimum obligations, and for there to be general confidence in the master trust market.

We do not want to restrict how trustees resolve a triggering event, but we want to encourage and facilitate the continuity of pension saving by members. The best way to achieve that is for schemes to have the freedom to resolve their specific issues in the most appropriate way, but under the supervision of the regulator. There has to be an external check that triggering events have been properly resolved, because otherwise we could not assure the protection of members’ savings, and the regulator provides that. We consider that to be the best way of ensuring the continuity and security that we want. We believe that the clause provides the framework for doing that, so I ask the Committee to support it.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 26 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned. —(Steve Brine.)

Adjourned till Thursday 9 February at half-past Eleven o’clock.