HC Deb 08 February 1977 vol 925 cc1204-5
1. Mr. Shepherd

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he will issue his new report on member participation in occupational pension schemes.

The Secretary of State for Social Services (Mr. David Ennals)

I will report on the outcome of the consultations we are having on member participation in pension schemes when those consultations have been completed.

Mr. Shepherd

Is the Secretary of State aware that if he continues with his dogmatic approach it will be possible for trade unionists to nominate 50 per cent. of representatives on company pension funds when it is possible that only 5 per cent. might be members of trade unions? Is he further aware that in a recent survey on a parallel matter 84 per cent. of trade unionists questioned thought that all employees of the company, and not just trade unionists, should participate in the election of representatives? Why does the right hon. Gentleman seek to deny democracy in this way?

Mr. Ennals

I would make it clear to the hon. Gentleman that there is nothing dogmatic about the position that we have taken. In the White Paper we are not requiring that every scheme should change. In fact, many schemes will not change because trade unions and members of those schemes are satisfied with the existing structure. It is not a prescription for a requirement for change. It creates the opportunity for change, and it is a change that is much needed.

Mrs. Chalker

Is the Secretary of State saying that he is not now envisaging compulsory legislation for member participation or, in his right hon. Friend's words, trade union participation in occupational pension schemes?

Mr. Ennals

I am not saying that at all. I have not withdrawn from anything said in the White Paper. It is precisely the proposals in the White Paper that are being discussed with the CBI, the TUC and other organisations. We are discussing how we can implement, and the methods of implementing, the proposals contained in the White Paper. We are being very flexible in our approach. I will report to the House as soon as our consultations have been completed.