The Pensions Bill in the Lords
You are probably already aware that the much amended Pensions Bill is still struggling through the process of becoming an Act. Having already been through its First Reading, Second Reading, Committee Stage, Report Stage, Third Reading and Passing to the Lords, the Bill now seems to have got a bit stuck in the Lord’s Grand Committee bit of the process.
The Grand Committee has been debating the Bill now since early July, firstly on 6th July, then the 8th, 13th, 15th and 19th. It wasn’t finished by that stage, so it had to be put off during the Summer recess and they started debating it again on the 7th of September, continuing through the last week on the 9th, 13th and 14th, which has brought them up to the next recess (the Party Conference one) where it has just stopped again (and is again unfinished).
The next meeting looks like it’s scheduled for the 13th of October, when the Bill will continue its tortuous progress through the legislative mill. When it eventually gets through the Grand Committee stage in the Lords, it will still have to go to Report Stage and Third Reading Stage before going back to the Commons and on to get Royal Assent.
Liz Fleming tells me she’s just heard that the Queen’s Speech this year will be on 23rd November, so if the Pensions Act is to get done and dusted by then it will have to get a move on to be granted Royal Assent before that date. Now, if like me you feel you’re working to a tight deadline with your job you’ll probably have some sympathy with what the guys in Parliament are up against it with the Pensions Bill.
When they returned from their Summer break to get on with it all again, Lord Higgins, the Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions in the Lords made a point of pressing the Government for details of the Financial Assistance Scheme, which is being proposed to help members of collapsed occupational pension schemes. This was announced as the Bill went through the commons, but there are still few words explaining it for anyone to properly debate.
Strong stuff! So you can imagine that I have had a very interesting time most days this month reading the Hansard transcripts of the debate on the Pensions Bill from the Lords. I had the idea that I would be able to summarise their discussions for BeeHive readers to get across some of the important decisions that are shaping this year’s Pensions Bill and why certain outcomes are becoming more likely while others are falling by the wayside. It’s fascinating stuff, but so many issues are being discussed every day that I just don’t have the time (or skill) to summarise them properly.
Anyway, I came up with another one of my panic-driven brainwaves while thinking about this and got in touch with the publishers of Hansard to ask if BeeHive readers could be given direct access to the debates themselves if they too want to read them. Well, guess what? They said we could do that and, in a first for the BeeHive, we have added, at the end, a series of links to the daily debates that have taken place in the Lords’ Committee so far. We will continue to publish further links as the debate continues and (hopefully) reaches its eventual conclusion.
It’s all a bit of an eye-opener really if you have the time to read through it all (or even skim-read the bits that interest you most) and it reminds me of a famous quote from some politician or other who once said something like “Laws are a bit like sausages. If you like them it’s best not to know how they are made.” It’s probably a good principle, but unless you really are the squeamish type why not click on a link or two and see our political process making our Pensions Act. Let me know too if you like this sort of thing. There are loads of other links we can probably put on the BeeHive if you’d like.
16 September 2004
6 July 2004
8 July 2004
13 July 2004
15 July 2004
19 July 2004
7 September 2004
9 September 2004
13 September 2004
14 September 2004
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