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BeeHive  >  BeeLines  >  2008  >  Oct  >  Report Stage Debate on Pensions Bill

Report Stage Debate on Pensions Bill


The House of Lords debated the report stage of the Pensions Bill yesterday. It was the second day of consideration of amendments of the Bill.  The debate’s continuing today, but I thought you’d be interested in some of the stuff that went on yesterday so we’ve put together this short synopsis of the events of the day for you (I know, we’re all heart).  We’ve even added links at the end to the Hansard site for you to read the actual bits of the debate itself if you want to.  Many of you might like to do just that for the debate about Lord Fowler’s proposal that the Government be given the power to suspend the rule that an annuity must be taken at the age of 75.  That amendment was, I’m afraid, defeated in a vote after a long debate.

Anyway, without going through it all twice; here’s the synopsis for you:

Opening the debate, government spokesman Lord McKenzie moved amendment 65. He told the House the amendment dealt with whether non-executive directors were exempt from being automatically enrolled. He told the House the amendment would enable the director with a contract of employment to be included in the reforms, and a director with any other contract or letter is excluded. This would mean that unless a non-executive director has a contract of employment, they will not be automatically enrolled.

The amendment was added to the Bill.

Conservative spokeswoman, Baroness Noakes moved amendment No. 68 which would introduce a new clause that would introduce a requirement for the government to make a report to Parliament on the costs and implementation of personal accounts.

Lord McKenzie told the House the government recognised that parliament has a legitimate interest in the financial affairs of both PADA and the trustee corporation. He later proposed to look again at the financial provisions within Clause 80 and Schedule 1 to ensure they clearly reflect the government’s intention that the scheme is delivered at "no overall cost to the taxpayer".

The amendment was withdrawn

Baroness Noakes then moved amendment No. 69. This amendment would introduce a new clause that would allow conditionally indexed pension arrangements to be introduced into the UK.

Replying to the amendment, Lord Mckenzie stated it was unclear whether a scheme would in fact be required to be funded "so as to provide for indexation where indexation had not already been awarded".

However, he said the government were "working urgently" on the issue. He said: "I do not preclude our returning to it at Third Reading".

The amendment was withdrawn

Lord Fowler moved amendment No. 69A, which introduced a new clause that would give the government the power to suspend the rule that an annuity must be taken at the age of 75.

In reply Lord McKenzie stated a suspension "would add uncertainty, complexity and cost" to those making pension savings and the companies providing pensions and annuities.

Following a lengthy debate and vote the amendment was defeated.

Lord McKenzie of Luton moved Amendment No. 71, which would make it mandatory for the government to commission a report from the Government Actuary’s Department on determining actuarial equivalence.

The amendment was added to the Bill.

Lord Tunnicliffe moved Amendment No. 73, which would set out the timescale for a pension compensation credit to be implemented.

The amendment was added to the Bill.

Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope moved Amendment No. 74, which would insert a new clause to the BIll. The new clause would introduce an independent commission with a remit to analyse research and provide information on pension costs and public policy issues over the longer term.

Following a vote, the amendment was defeated.

Lord Fowler moved amendment No. 75, which would introduce a new clause. He told the House the new clause would bring into line the rules on trustees of the parliamentary pension scheme with those that apply to other contributory schemes, particularly in the election of those trustees.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay moved Amendment No. 77 which would introduce a new clause which raises the age pensions annuity can be taken requiring a pension to be taken to an age limit of 85.

In reply Lord McKenzie said raising the age would be of "no benefit to the vast majority of people who use their pension savings for the intended purpose".

The amendment was defeated in a vote.

Lord McKenzie of Luton, moved amendment no.77C. Lord McKenzie stated the clause dealt with the important issue of amendments to the Pensions Regulator’s anti-avoidance powers. He told the House, the government had consulted and had refined the legislation to ensure that it delivers on our intention to strike the right balance between protecting scheme members’ benefits and ensuring that the legitimate interests of employers and investors are not unduly hampered.

The amendment was added to the Bill.

Well, that’s the short synopsis of the day’s proceedings.  If you’d like to read through the full Monty you can get to the relevant parts of Hansard here (Pensions Bill Debate) and here (Pensions Bill Debate).  If, however, you just want to read the bit of the debate about the enforcement of annuities at age 75 you can get to that bit by following the first link only.  I’d recommend everybody reads at least that bit, but it’s up to you really.  No pressure.

Steve Bee

28 October 2008

Source: Lords Hansard debate, 27 October 2008

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