HC Deb 02 June 1997 vol 295 cc2-3
2. Mr. Spring

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proportion of those currently retiring are in receipt of occupational pensions. [876]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security (Mr. John Denham)

Around 70 per cent. of recently retired married couples and single pensioners are in receipt of an occupational pension.

For most people, a good occupational pension will ensure security in retirement. The Government want to see existing occupational pension schemes strengthened and, where possible, their coverage extended.

Mr. Spring

Does the Minister agree that nothing has been more liberating than the rise in incomes for retired people flowing from the personal savings and occupational pension schemes that have been available to them? What specific incentives does the Minister have in mind to encourage the growth of those opportunities so that people may feel more secure in old age?

Mr. Denham

The hon. Gentleman is right to say that pension savings are important. It was a matter of concern that the membership by male full-time workers of occupational pension schemes fell considerably during the tenure of the previous Government. We wish to strengthen and encourage well-funded second-tier provision, and in due course we shall be consulting on our proposals for stakeholder pensions to bring the advantages of funded second pensions to those who do not presently have the opportunity to join an employer's occupational pension scheme.

Mr. Miller

I welcome my hon. Friend to his position. In the light of the concerns that I have expressed about H. H. Robertsons in my constituency, do the Government intend to review the safety provisions within occupational pensions?

Mr. Denham

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the work that he did in the previous Parliament in drawing the attention of the House to the problems faced by that particular employer and pension scheme. I understand that that scheme is currently being considered by the regulator, so my hon. Friend will understand if I do not comment in detail on it. We certainly will wish to take stock of the way in which the Pensions Act 1995 is being implemented in practice, and consider the evidence to see whether any further measures are required to ensure the security of pension schemes, in their members' interests.