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Lord Haskel: I do not wish at this time to enter into a discussion about the United States. At a later stage I shall return to the experience there because I believe that there are some very valuable lessons to be drawn from it. Meanwhile, with regard to the Minister's point about the 150,000 schemes, the Goode Report foresaw that and suggested an accelerated means of checking up on schemes, particularly those administered by insurance companies or perhaps firms of consultants, which number well over 100,000.

I do not wish to enter into a discussion at this stage. I shall return later to the experience of the United States, particularly on matters of voting. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 60 not moved.]

Clause 88 agreed to.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Lyell): Before I call Amendment No. 61 I must inform the Committee that if Amendment No. 61 is agreed to, I shall be unable to call Amendment No. 62.

Clause 89 [Inspection of premises]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 61:


Page 51, line 18, leave out from ("of") to ("at") in line 19 and insert ("investigating whether, in the case of any occupational pension scheme, the regulatory provisions are being, or have been, complied with,").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 61, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 63 to 68, 70, 72, 75 and 77. These amendments are broadly technical in nature, some more and some less. Amendments Nos. 61, 63 and 64 are related. They clarify the power of OPRA to investigate whether or not a scheme is complying with the regulatory provisions. That includes the power to make spot checks and respond to whistle blowing.

Amendment No. 61 clarifies the purposes for which an inspector may enter premises and carry out investigation. It introduces the term "regulatory

7 Feb 1995 : Column 203

provisions". Amendment No. 63 is consequential upon Amendment No. 61. Amendment No. 64 provides a definition of the term "regulatory provisions".

We have seen some of the exemptions listed in Amendment No. 64. They are the ones that featured in my earlier discussions with the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. I can confirm that the amendment will be covered in the letter that I sent him relating to our earlier discussions.

Amendments Nos. 65 to 68 are technical and clarifying amendments. They make it clear that the investigatory powers given to an inspector appointed by the authority under the clause will only allow the inspector to enter premises connected with the scheme under investigation. The premises the inspector is permitted to enter are where members of the scheme under investigation are employed; where documents relevant to that scheme are stored, or where the administration of that scheme is carried out.

Amendment No. 70 is a technical amendment. It replaces a reference to this "Part" to make it clear that the only purpose for which an inspector appointed by the authority can apply to enter premises are those set out in Clause 89. That is because all the purposes for which an inspector should be permitted to enter premises are set out in that clause.

Amendment No. 72 is again a technical amendment. It removes a confusing reference to information given to a justice of the peace by an inspector. As drafted, the clause appears to imply that the inspector may not be giving information on behalf of the authority, which is not our intention. The position is made clear by the amendment.

Amendments Nos. 75 and 77 extend the circumstances in which the authority may apply to a justice of the peace for a warrant to enter and search premises and remove documents. They are intended to ensure that the authority is able to apply for such a warrant in all appropriate circumstances. Amendment No. 75 allows the authority to apply for a warrant where there are reasonable grounds for believing that a person will do any act which constitutes a misuse or misappropriation of the assets of an occupational pension scheme. Amendment No. 77 is a consequential amendment. It allows the authority to apply for a warrant where there are reasonable grounds for believing that a person will do any act which constitutes a misuse or misappropriation of the assets of an occupational pension scheme. I beg to move.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: We are obviously happy with the bulk of the amendments, especially those, as the Minister put it, which are "more technical". Amendment No. 61 may be less technical and I am not sure that I understand its import. Perhaps I may press him a little on that.

In reply to an earlier question of mine in relation to the amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Buckinghamshire, the Minister's noble friend said, with his usual fluency, panache and expansiveness, "Yes". I should like to find out precisely what the "yes" covered in the context of Amendment No. 61. What is in this

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sense the regulatory provision? For example, does it include considering whether or not there is a likelihood of misappropriation, as in Clause 11, or whether it is in the best interests of scheme members to wind it up, as in Clause 9? In other words, will the regulator send in inspectors where there is general wrongdoing rather than an infringement of a specific statutory provision? Can the Minister tell us more, or alternatively write a note?

10 p.m.

Lord Lucas: The Minister may have the usual limitations in giving an exact answer to the question. As far as the wording of Clause 61 is concerned, I believe that what it is intended to cover is quite clear: that is, whether the regulatory provisions as defined in Amendment No. 64 are being contravened. Apparently, that means "yes". If the breach of trust leads to a deterioration in the scheme funds, OPRA can wind it up in the interests of members, including pensioners. I believe that that will cover the matter which is of concern to the noble Baroness. However, I will look again at what she, and indeed I, have said and see whether there is anything that I need add by way of letter.

Lord Monkswell: The Minister listed a series of premises that could be inspected by the authority, but I do not believe that he mentioned premises where the assets of the scheme were held. Perhaps he can clarify whether or not the authority will have power to enter those premises.

Lord Lucas: It is clear that premises where documents relative to the scheme are stored are included, but I cannot answer the noble Lord as to whether a place where gold bars are stored is also included. I will write to him.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 62 not moved.]

Lord Lucas moved Amendments Nos. 63 to 68:


Page 51, leave out lines 22 and 23 and insert ("such purposes,").
Page 51, line 31, at end insert:
("( ) In subsection (1), "the regulatory provisions" means—
(a) the provisions of this Part, other than the following provisions: sections 44 to 47, 55 to 58 and 100 to 102,
(b) the following provisions of the Pension Schemes Act 1993: section 6 (registration), Chapter IV of Part IV (transfer values), section 113 (information) or section 175 (levy), or
(c) any corresponding provisions in force in Northern Ireland.").
Page 51, line 34, leave out ("an occupational pension") and insert ("the").
Page 51, line 35, leave out ("such a") and insert ("the").
Page 51, line 37, leave out ("such a") and insert ("the").
Page 51, line 38, leave out ("such a") and insert ("the").

The noble Lord said: I spoke to Amendment No. 63 together with Amendment No. 61. In moving the amendment, I also wish to move Amendments Nos. 64 to 68 en bloc. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 69 not moved.]

7 Feb 1995 : Column 205

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 70:


Page 51, line 42, leave out ("Part") and insert ("section").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment with Amendment No. 61. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 71 not moved.]

Clause 89, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 90 [Warrants]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 72:


Page 52, line 2, leave out ("or by an inspector").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment with Amendment No. 61. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 73:


Page 52, line 6, leave out ("or enactment").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 73 and at the same time to speak to Amendments Nos. 78 and 102. These amendments are technical. Amendments Nos. 73 and 78 correct references in respect of legislation in Northern Ireland. Amendment No. 102 gives the Department of Health and Social Services for Northern Ireland its correct title.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 74:


Page 52, line 13, leave out from ("Act") to ("or") in line 15 and insert ("or the Pension Schemes Act 1993, or any enactment in force in Northern Ireland corresponding to either of them").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I shall speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 76 and 79. The amendments are all technical in nature. In setting out the circumstances under which a warrant can be applied for, Clause 90 makes reference to a number of provisions contained elsewhere in the Pensions Bill and in the Pension Schemes Act 1993. So that legislation in Northern Ireland is also covered it is necessary for the clause to refer to the corresponding enactments which are in force in Northern Ireland. The amendments seek to remove unnecessary references to provisions already implied by the definition of enactments in force in Northern Ireland. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.


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