Content of implementation strategy

Part of Pension Schemes Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 9 February 2017.

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Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Pensions) 11:30, 9 February 2017

I beg to move amendment 30, in clause 28, page 20, line 14, after “charges” insert

“, including any caps on these charges,”.

This requires members to be informed about caps on charges.

Good morning, Mr Rosindell. The amendment is straightforward: it would ensure that members are given accurate information, particularly where caps have been placed on the charges alluded to in the clause. As the Secretary of State has yet to determine costs and charges throughout a pension scheme—not just administration but investment and transaction costs—we have yet another delay in ensuring that scheme members are delivered the efficiencies that they deserve. We are also dependent on the Secretary of State bringing forward secondary legislation on the continuity strategy, which means yet more delay.

I am in danger of repeating myself, but scheme members really ought to get more information about the issues that affect their pensions. We have to start somewhere, and I maintain that the Bill remains a good place to do that. As I have said elsewhere, the Government support a cost-collection template in the local government pension scheme, which prompts the question: why do they not use that for master trusts instead of going down the road of yet more consultation?

I know from experience this week that the Minister is unlikely to be sympathetic to the amendment. Assuming that we are in that place again, what consultation is he planning with scheme members on the need for greater transparency and how they think they ought to be informed and given the opportunity to be active rather than passive scheme members?

The Secretary of State said last week:

“We plan to consult later in the year on the publication and onward disclosure of information about costs and charges to members. In addition to the Bill, other things are clearly required to give greater confidence in the pensions system.”—[Official Report, 30 January 2017; Vol. 620, c. 756.]

I had hoped that we could go some way to implementing at least some measures to help to fill the communication deficit, but now we will have to wait even longer. Trust members would have a little more confidence in this Government if they took this opportunity to take action on costs and charges and the need to share information about issues such as caps.

I conclude with a final question for the Minister. The review is under way. Is he satisfied that he will have the powers under the Bill or any other piece of legislation to accelerate the drive for greater transparency, or will we have to wait for another pensions Bill, which I understand is unlikely during this Parliament?