HC Deb 26 October 1976 vol 918 cc249-51
1. Mr. McCrindle

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many representations he received during the parliamentary recess on the White Paper on membership participation in occupational pension schemes.

The Minister for Social Security (Mr. Stanley Orme)

I have received some 150 representations, of which 32 have come from the members of one pension scheme.

Mr. McCrindle

Has the Minister been following the expressions of public disquiet which have been revealed in the columns of the Press during the summer over the proposal that 50 per cent, of the representation on occupational pension schemes should go to the trade unions? Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider this proposal, which is opposed by, among others, trade unionists, since investment decisions on occupational pension schemes should be taken purely with thought for the benefit of the pensioners and not with thought to alleviating temporary unemployment?

Mr. Orme

The Government reaffirm their basic support for the proposals within the White Paper. During the summer and the autumn I have had consultations with employers and trade unionists about pension schemes. I have found a ready acceptance of many of the main points, and many pension schemes are already bringing themselves into line with some of the proposals in the White Paper.

Mr. Paul Dean

Does the Minister accept that many people who are working for the success of the pensions legislation are strongly opposed to giving trade unionists the monopoly in employee participation? Will he give an assurance that legislation will provide flexibility for the participation arrangements so that occupational pension scheme members can decide for themselves who shall represent them?

Mr. Orme

I have had representations along those lines which I have discussed with pension interests on both sides of industry, the CBI and TUC. Following those consultations, I see no reason why the Government should change their main proposals, because there is increasing acceptance of the general outline given in the White Paper.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Let me see whether I have it right. Is it the fact that the Minister has conceded that if no trade unionists are members of the scheme the trade union will not be involved, but that if only one out of perhaps many hundreds or thousands of members of a scheme is a trade unionist that man's trade union will have the right to appoint the entire representation of the members?

Mr. Orme

There is misunderstanding about this. I should explain to the right hon. Gentleman that if there are no trade unionists the White Paper provision does not apply. If there is one trade unionist who is not accepted by the company as being a member of a recognised independent trade union, the White Paper and the Bill will not apply.