§ Mr. Denham
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what estimate he has made of the number of employees covered by group personal pension schemes; 551W
(2) what is the average number of employees of companies which currently offer group personal pension schemes; and what proportion of those entitled to participate do so; 
(3) what are the average earnings of members of group personal pension schemes; 
(4) what assessment he has made of the number of employers who contribute to group personal pension schemes; and what is the average annual contribution per employee. 
§ Mr. Heald
A group personal pension, GPP, scheme is a grouping of individual personal pensions usually involving a single employer. Official data do not distinguish between personal pensions within a group arrangement and other personal pensions.
Private sector research1 suggests that around half a million people are covered by upwards of 50,000 GPP arrangements. Some, but not all, of these people will have personal pensions contracted out of the state earnings-related pension scheme, SERPS.
Preliminary results from the survey of employers' pensions provision2 show that among private sector organisations making some form of pension provision, GPPs were the main arrangement—accounting for the largest percentage of the work force—in just under 20 per cent. of organisations with fewer than 100 employees, falling to just 2 per cent. of organisations with over 500 employees. The survey also shows that 90 per cent. of employers who have arranged a GPP make contributions to their employees' pension.
Information on the participation rates of employees who are offered a GPP arrangement, average earnings of GPP members and the average employer contribution is not available.
1 Income Data Services (IDS) Pensions Bulletin—May 1994.
2 The survey of employers' pension provision is a Social and Community Planning Research (SCPR)/Policy Studies Institute (PSI) survey of over 1,000 private sector organisations in Great Britain. It is expected that a final report will be published in summer 1996.
§ Mr. Denham
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the regulatory obstacles to the promotion of group personal pension schemes; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Heald
Regulation of the sale and marketing of group personal pension schemes, like all investment products, is governed by the Financial Services Act 1986—FSA.
In response to concerns that employers would become liable under the FSA by offering group schemes, the Department of Social Security, in association with the Securities and Investments Board, produced leaflet PP4; "A guide to the Financial Services Act for employers", which makes it clear that provided they follow certain rules of thumb, employers should be able to offer a group scheme to their employees without infringing the FSA.