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Baroness Seear: It is welcome news that the Government sometimes listen. While it is by no means all that we would like, given that the Minister has said that he will at least see that the regulations are subject to the affirmative procedure, that is a very real advance.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter: Is my noble friend saying that he will introduce amendments to that effect at the next stage?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I think that I was saying that we would look at two different approaches to the problem. We will bring forward at another stage of the Bill whichever one appears to offer the best solution.

Baroness Seear: We withdraw our objection to the clause.

Clause 106, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 107 agreed to.

Clause 108 [Powers to modify this Part]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendments Nos. 170A, 170B and 170C:


Page 61, line 8, leave out ("section 68").
Page 61, line 13, at end insert ("or").
Page 61, line 15 leave out from ("scheme") to end of line 18.

The noble Lord said: I spoke to these amendments with Amendment No. 151BA. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 108, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 109 agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 171:


After Clause 109, insert the following new clause:

Consultations about regulations

(" .—(1) Before the Secretary of State makes any regulations by virtue of this Part, he must consult such persons as he considers appropriate.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply—
(a) to regulations made for the purpose only of consolidating other regulations revoked by them,
(b) to regulations in the case of which the Secretary of State considers consultation inexpedient because of urgency,
(c) to regulations made before the end of the period of six months beginning with the coming into force of the provision of this Part by virtue of which the regulations are made, or

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(d) to regulations which—
(i) state that they are consequential upon a specified enactment, and
(ii) are made before the end of the period of six months beginning with the coming into force of that enactment.").

The noble Lord said: I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 190 and 191. Amendment No. 171 introduces a new clause which places the Secretary of State under a statutory duty to consult those he considers appropriate before making regulations on pension matters. I trust that that will be a welcome addition to the Bill.

Amendments Nos. 190 and 191 are consequential amendments relating to consultation on regulations. Their effect is to ensure that the Secretary of State will be under the same statutory obligations on consultation for regulations made under the Pension Schemes Act 1993 as he will be for regulations made under the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We are not going to oppose an amendment which introduces an obligation to consult. That is a constant theme in legislation, and Ministers will know that one of the constant devices by which oppositions seek to open up discussion on legislative matters is by introducing amendments to require consultation. But this is a pretty feeble attempt at introducing consultation into the Bill.

Let us concede that the amendment provides that the Secretary of State must consult, but then it states:


    "such persons as he considers appropriate".

What kind of people are considered appropriate for consultation on regulations? In particular, I want to know whether the Secretary of State will consider consultation with the pensions industry itself adequate for the purpose because, of course, there are many kinds of people who are affected by pensions legislation. There are those who are responsible professionally for producing pension schemes; there are those who, by virtue of their role as employers, are responsible for pension schemes; and there are the punters—those who pay into and receive pensions. I should like an assurance that the Government do not exclude the third category from the proposed consultation.

It is not clear what is meant by subsection (2) (b):


    "regulations in the case of which the Secretary of State considers consultation inexpedient because of urgency".

We have had consultation amendments before, but I have never seen a consultation amendment which makes that provision. Perhaps the Minister will tell us what precedent there is for what, on the face of it, appears to be a loophole which would enable the Secretary of State to avoid consultation in any case, because it is only up to the Secretary of State to consider what is urgent.

What if another person thinks that something else is not urgent, and that there are other opinions which could well be canvassed before regulations are made? It seems odd, at the very least, to put that matter entirely into the Secretary of State's hands. I suppose that we could let the transitional arrangements in paragraphs (c) and (d) go through without comment, but if the Government are going to introduce consultation provisions let us at least ensure that they have some real teeth.

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Lord Boyd-Carpenter: Will my noble friend say whether there is any precedent for subsection (2) (b)?

Lord Lucas: Yes, I am told that the SSAC has the same provisions. Perhaps I may address the point more widely. The purpose of the provisions is to ensure that we have the power to deal with another Maxwell; in other words, someone innovative and powerful making things go wrong quickly and radically. We do not wish to be without the powers necessary to deal with such a situation, if and when it happens. We do not envisage using subsection (2) (b) under ordinary circumstances. We shall consult whenever possible.

Perhaps I can say to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, that we shall include members' representatives, trade unions, consumer groups, and similar organisations, in our consultation and not just people who might be considered to be pensions experts.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 110 agreed to.

5.30 p.m.

Schedule 3 [Amendments consequential on Part I]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 171A:


Page 101, line 20, after ("Authority") insert ("or the Pensions Compensation Board").

The noble Lord said: I shall speak also to Amendment No. 171B. These amendments allow information to be disclosed to the Pensions Compensation Board by any self-regulating organisation under the Financial Services Act 1986. They also allow the registrar of occupational and personal pension schemes to disclose information to the Pensions Compensation Board. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: On the face of it, the amendment appears to be welcome. However, I am puzzled why the information should be given under the Financial Services Act and the Pension Schemes Act but not, for example, under the Companies Act or any other legislation that is spelt out in detail in Schedule 3. Can the Minister help the Committee?

Lord Lucas: I do not believe that I can immediately help the Committee. I shall write to the noble Lord.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 171B:


Page 102, line 25, after ("Authority") insert ("or the Pensions Compensation Board").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 172:


Page 103, line 4, leave out paragraph 26 and insert:
(". Section 144 (deficiencies in assets on winding up) is repealed.").

The noble Lord said: I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 173, 175, 176, 177, 178, 179, 180, 193, 196 and 197.

Amendment No. 193 inserts after Clause 139 a new clause which repeals Sections 136 to 143 of the Pension Schemes Act 1993. These sections contain the Occupational Pension Board's powers to wind up schemes and to modify schemes for specified purposes.

20 Feb 1995 : Column 954

They are either no longer required or will transfer to the new regulatory authority under Clauses 10 and 62 to 64 of the Bill.

Sections 136 to 143 of the Pension Schemes Act are incorrectly partially repealed in Schedule 3 to this Bill. Amendment No. 193 makes the full repeal as a new clause in Part IV of the Bill. Changes to other legislation consequential to the new clause should then appear in Schedule 6, not Schedule 3. The remaining amendments in the group achieve that.

The only exceptions are Amendments Nos. 172 and 173, which take account of the need to repeal Section 144 of the Pension Schemes Act. This contains the provisions for employer debt on wind up which are re-enacted by Clause 68 of the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am grateful to the Minister for that explanation. This series of amendments caused us a great deal of head scratching. One started with Amendments Nos. 172 and 173 in a grouping which appeared just before lunch today and then discovered that it all depends on Amendment No. 193. Even as regards those who spend a fair amount of time looking at amendments to legislation, it is possible to become confused—and I certainly did.

I am grateful for the explanation. I take it that all the other amendments are consequential on Amendment No. 193, which removes the relevant sections of the Pension Schemes Act 1993. I wish to be assured that the only purpose of the amendment is to ensure that those parts of the 1993 Act no longer appear on the face of the Bill.


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