HC Deb 14 July 1992 vol 211 cc605-6W
Mr. Frank Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will propose legislation under which the administrator of a pension fund would be required to(a) send a summary of the fund's accounts, as soon as they are available, to all beneficiaries and (b) notify all beneficiaries as to how to obtain a copy of the latest year's accounts;

(2) what plans his Department has to make the Occupational Pensions Board the main supervisory body for the pensions industry;

(3) if he will draw up proposals under which pension fund investment assets would (a) be held by independent custodian trustees and (b) have their ownership clearly designated upon them;

(4) what proposals he has to strengthen the role of the Occupational Pensions Board to enable it to carry out the task of running any pensions compensation scheme that may be recommended by the pensions law review committee;

(5) if he will draw up proposals under which letters of representation obtained in pensions fund audits would be required to leave the directors and trustees of those funds in no doubt as to their responsibilities with regard to the ownership, appropriateness, valuation and custody of investments;

(6) if he will make it Government policy to ensure that beneficiaries of pension funds have an annual opportunity of questioning the trustees on their administration of those funds;

(7) if he will propose legislation which would establish a pension compensation fund;

(8) whether the pensions law review committee under the chairmanship of Professor Goode QC intends to examine the practicalities of the idea that each pensioner should have the annual right of transferring his entire assets from his pension scheme into another recognised financial institution;

(9) if he will make it his policy to ensure the Occupational Pensions Board monitors (a) the appointment of pension fund trustees, (b) the winding-up of pension funds and the division of their assets and (c) the annual reports and accounts of pension funds lodged with the board;

(10) if he will issue guidelines codifying (a) the specific obligations of pension fund trustees to maintain proper accounting and (b) the form which auditors' reports to pension fund trustees should follow so that future areas of risk are qualified and explained;

(11) if he will make a statement as to how the Government consider the Inland Revenue can best fit in the work of the superannuation funds office in monitoring pension funds with the work of the Occupational Pensions Board in policing those funds;

(12) if he will make it his policy to issue guidelines to actuaries of pension funds advising them on what is their role in ensuring the nation's pension funds are safe, secure and run in a fit and proper manner;

(13) if he will instruct the Occupational Pensions Board to begin urgent discussions with the Investment Management Regulatory Organisation to discover how many pension funds entrust assets to managements whose ultimate control lies outside the jurisdiction of Great Britain;

(14) what steps he intends to take to bring about a co-ordination of (a) pensions industry regulatory bodies and (b) the checks carried out on pension funds by the different professional advisers.

Miss Widdecombe

In accordance with their manifesto promise the Government set up a Pension Law review committee on 8 June under the chairmanship of Professor Goode QC. The wide terms of reference given to the review committee will enable it to look at the overall framework of occupational pensions. The recommendations will form the basis for the Government to bring forward any detailed changes which are found to be necessary in order to give added protection to occupational pension schemes. The conclusions of the Select Committee report and points raised by the hon. Member and others will be among the issues the review committee will wish to take into account in deciding on its recommendations.