HC Deb 21 February 1977 vol 926 cc447-8W
Mr. Bryan Davies

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he will ask the Occupational Pensions Board to review the security of pension rights of members of occupational pension schemes, as was proposed in the White Paper "Occupational Pension Schemes: The Role of Members in the Running of Schemes".

Mr. Orme

My right hon. Friend has today written to the Chairman of the Occupational Pensions Board, in the following terms, asking the board to carry out the review.The White Paper on occupational pension schemes 'The Role of Members in the Running of Schemes' (Cmnd. 6514) proposed that the Occupational Pensions Board should be asked to review the need for any further legislative or other measures directed to the safeguarding of occupational pension rights. I now make the following reference to the Board under Section 66(l)(b) of the Social Security Act 1973: 'To review and report on the need for any further measures, including, if appropriate, legislative measures, directed to providing greater security for occupational pension rights and expectations; and to submit interim reports from time to time as requested.' I see the board's further study of the solvency of occupational pension schemes as providing, in particular, a means of monitoring the way in which schemes cope with inflationary and economic pressures. I appreciate that there will be a heavy load on employers and the pension industry in the coming months. Moreover, the start of the Government's new pension scheme in April 1978 may obviously have some bearing upon your deliberations and I appreciate that the board may feel that its report would be the more significant if it were to cover a reasonable period of time after the new scheme has started—in order to assess for example how contracting-out schemes were coping with the requirements of the Social Security Pensions Act 1975. I well understand, therefore, why the board suggested, in its earlier report*,⋆ a study lasting for say five years. If the board can complete its study more quickly than this, this would be welcome, but it will be acceptable if the board finds that it cannot sensibly reduce this period by any substantial margin. In view of this I hope that, if circumstances warrant it, the board—given reasonable notice—would be prepared to submit interim reports for consideration, possibly on particular aspects of the subject. *Cmnd. 5904: Report of the Occupational Pensions Board on the questions of Solvency, Disclosure of Information, and Member Participation in Occupational Pension Schemes, paragraph 65.