HL Deb 20 March 1997 vol 579 cc1137-9

6.54 p.m.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

The Bill was introduced in another place in January as part of the Government's commitment to helping public service employees who may have suffered loss as a result of being mis-sold a personal pension to have that loss made good by the personal pension provider concerned. As the House may know, there has been concern that between mid-1988 and mid-1994 a number of members or potential members of occupational pension schemes may have been incorrectly advised by financial advisers or by personal pension providers to leave or not to join their occupational scheme and to opt instead for a personal pension.

In view of that, the public service pension schemes have agreed to restore current employees to the position they would have been in, had no mis-selling taken place and had they not left their occupational scheme, on receipt of an appropriate payment from those responsible for mis-selling. Unlike the other public service pension schemes, the police and fire pension schemes cannot be amended by means of secondary legislation alone to enable the police and fire authorities to participate in the review at no cost to the public purse or to reinstate pensionable service where mis-selling has taken place.

The Bill, which extends to England and Wales and to Scotland, amends the Police Pensions Act 1976 and the Fire Services Act 1947 to enable the relevant secondary legislation containing the provisions for police and fire pensions to be amended in two ways. First, the Bill enables provision to be made for police and fire authorities to reinstate in their occupational pension schemes police officers and firefighters who have been mis-sold personal pensions. This is to be done by means of Clause 1 of the Bill.

Secondly, the Bill paves the way for police and fire authorities to recover the reasonable administrative costs of dealing with inquiries made by personal pension providers when conducting their review of the pensions they have sold to police officers and firefighters. The Bill also enables police and fire authorities to recover the costs of reinstating a person's occupational pension rights where a personal pension was mis-sold. These measures are contained in Clause 2 in respect of police pensions and in Clause 3 in respect of fire pensions.

I also believe that the Bill will be equally welcomed by the insurance industry, since I know that a good number of personal pension providers are keen to get on with their reviews of the pensions sold to police officers and firefighters and to settle the cases where mis-selling is found to have taken place. This Bill will enable police and fire authorities to play their part in making progress with the review.

The Bill is not a controversial measure. It was welcomed in another place, and I commend it to your Lordships' House. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Baroness Blatch.)

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, it is clear that the Bill is necessary. As the Minister indicated, it had support from my friends in the House of Commons. Because it is necessary to put the issue on the statute book indicates that this is the tip of an iceberg. I am slightly surprised that the Minister says that this is welcomed by the insurance industry. The insurance industry seems to me to have been noticeable in its determination to delay the proper compensation to those who have been the victims of mis-selling of pensions over a very much wider range of occupations. That blame must be laid not only on the insurance industry but on the Government who provoked the industry into that action.

On Question, Bill read a second time: Committee negatived.

Then, Standing Order No. 44 having been suspended (pursuant to Resolution of 18th March), Bill read a third time, and passed.