British Steel Pension Scheme: Transfers — [Mr George Howarth in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:18 am on 10th April 2019.

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Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 10:18 am, 10th April 2019

I have been trying to find the note that one of my officials kindly sent me on the quantum of insurance. My understanding is that FCA authorised and regulated firms must have insurance in place; if they do not, the FCA has it in its armoury to de-authorise. I listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman, and his point seemed to be on the amount of that insurance. I am happy to take that matter away and consider it. On the practice of phoenixing, I am given to understand that the FCA has done a significant amount of work in that area. It launched a programme of work in April 2018 to strengthen authorisations, and I have given some of the details. I do not want to waffle further on this point, but I will give consideration to the amount and level of insurance required. The hon. Gentleman has discussed the matter with the FCA; I will do so as well and write to him. If it is not fit for purpose, it is not fit.

I thank the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent for bringing to the House this debate on a very important topic. I was pleased to hear that he is committed to supporting the communications work with the FCA to raise awareness among former BSPS members of their rights to complain and to seek justice. The Government, regulators and other organisations are strongly committed to monitoring the market for financial advice and defined-benefit pension schemes, and to taking decisive action to ensure that these events cannot be repeated. I recognise that Ministers often say that at this point, but I have listened sincerely and carefully to the points that have been raised.

A lot can be done as a consequence of the excellent work of the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, and through my interaction with the FCA. I accept that there have been some differences of opinion in the Chamber this morning regarding the amount that can be done by regulatory intervention and legislative action. However, I will do all I can to ensure that we exhaust reasonable opportunities for the FCA to tighten up in all these areas. The example given by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington of an individual who inadvertently, unwittingly and tragically led his 20 colleagues to make certain decisions, and the multiplier effect of those, was heartbreaking, and one that the Government need to respond to. I thank Members for the opportunity to respond to this morning’s debate.