HC Deb 03 June 1986 vol 98 cc723-4
9. Mr. Stern

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services in respect of which provisions of the Social Security Act 1985 draft regulations are still to be published.

Mr. Major

There are only two sets of regulations arising from the Social Security Act 1985 which remain to be published. These are regulations under section 3 of the Act concerning disclosure of information by occupational pension schemes and regulations under section 5 of the Act concerning managers of occupational pension schemes. Six sets of regulations dealing with new rights for early leavers of occupational pension schemes were made in December 1985 and have come into effect this year.

Mr. Stern

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his reply, which suggests the near completion of a successful exercise under the 1985 Act and indicates the outcome of a similar major exercise on what will undoubtedly be the 1986 Act. May I, however, draw his attention to the effects of one regulation, namely, the recent publication of the names of those advising the Secretary of State on personal pensions, and point out that not one person on that advisory panel can be said to represent the consumer interest?

Mr. Major

My right hon. Friend's advisory group is advising him on technicalities. There will, of course, be consultation with consumer interests. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks about the passage of the earlier sets of regulations. Of those still outstanding, I am pleased to tell him that we expect to publish and lay the disclosure regulations this month and bring them into effect later this year. Consultation is almost concluded on the regulations concerning managers of occupational pension schemes. We shall lay those regulations as soon as possible.

Mrs. Beckett

I am not surprised that the Minister was grateful to his hon. Friend for congratulations on publishing regulations when he has just said that he expects the disclosure regulations to be published—did he say this month? That is presumably a post-date from the original date of Easter, which was a post-date from the original date of January. If the regulations for this year's Social Security Bill are published with the dexterity, speed and competence of those for the 1985 Act, we shall still be doing the regulations in 1992.

Mr. Major

It would perhaps be indelicate to remind the hon. Lady of how long the Labour Government took to lay regulations after the Social Security Act 1975, but it was substantially longer than has been taken in recent months. There will be a number of consequential regulations under the 1986 Act. We shall consult and publish these as soon as possible after Royal Assent. I assure the hon. Lady that Royal Assent will be given.

Mr. Watts

Will my hon. Friend resist the temptation to be pushed along by the hon. Member for Derby. South (Mrs. Beckett) in the matter of disclosure regulations? Will he bear in mind the importance of ensuring that when they are introduced they do not impose onerous burdens on small schemes that make them more difficult to operate? Will he concentrate on getting them right, rather than on introducing them quickly?

Mr. Major

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend about the importance of ensuring that the regulations are right. There may be a minor burden on schemes, but we are concerned primarily to ensure that the regulations enshrine existing good practice and that members of schemes have a rght, first, to know their entitlement, and, secondly, to know how the schemes are being managed.