HC Deb 23 January 1995 vol 253 cc1-2
1. Mr. Redmond

TO ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of the total value of occupational pension funds in the United Kingdom.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security (Mr. James Arbuthnot)

In 1992, the estimated total value of occupational pension funds in the United Kingdom was well in excess of £400,000 million.

Mr. Redmond

Will the Minister confirm that the occupational pension scheme is the key pillar of pension schemes in Britain today? Is he aware, however, that half a million people will lose a total of £1 million as a direct result of Government advice to invest in the private sector? Will he give a guarantee that those who are affected will be notified so that they can claim the money due to them?

Mr. Arbuthnot

I do not know where the hon. Gentleman gets his figures from. I had hoped that he would welcome my answer, which shows that the UK's funded personal pension provision is better than that of any other country in the European Union, but as he did not do so I shall say only that the basic pillar of our pension provision is the state retirement pension, which we shall continue to uprate in line with prices. This country's occupational pension provision is very good indeed.

Sir Donald Thompson

I warmly welcome my hon. Friend's first answer, but I remind him that occupational and private pensions have a sting in their tail. Often, having paid in for a generation, people have found that those pensions do not come up to expectations. Will he, therefore, regularly and rigorously review occupational and private pension schemes?

Mr. Arbuthnot

My hon. Friend will be aware of the Pensions Bill, the Second Reading of which the House of Lords will debate tomorrow and which will make pension provision more secure and more flexible. It offers more choice and greater opportunity to provide for equality in pensions. All that will be good news for pension provision in this country.

Mr. Ingram

Further to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond), does the Minister share the views expressed by the Independent Financial Advisers Association, as set out in today's edition of The Independent, which has taken court action to seek to avoid its duties and responsibilities to the 500,000 people who purchased personal pensions? Will the Minister give a guarantee, for which my hon. Friend asked, that all persons who have lost out due to the mis-selling of private pension schemes will be contacted and their schemes protected?

Mr. Arbuthnot

This is a matter for the Securities and Investments Board. The Government have made it plain throughout that their view is that those who have suffered loss through the mis-selling of personal pensions should have redress, and that remains our position.

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