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Lord Lucas: My Lords, my understanding is that the ability to adapt legislation is confined to the power to wind up schemes and that no other changes could be made under it. But it is a point which the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee will wish to confirm.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 23:


After Clause 10, insert the following new clause:

Powers to wind up public service schemes

(".—(1) The appropriate authority may by order direct a public service pension scheme to be wound up if they are satisfied that—
(a) the scheme, or any part of it, ought to be replaced by a different scheme, or
(b) the scheme is no longer required.
(2) In this section "the appropriate authority", in relation to a scheme, means such Minister of the Crown or government department as may be designated by the Treasury as having responsibility for the particular scheme.
(3) An order under this section must include such directions with respect to the manner and timing of the winding up as that authority think appropriate.
(4) Such an order may, as that authority think appropriate, adapt, amend or repeal any enactment in which the scheme is contained or under which it is made.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 20. I beg to move.

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On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 13 [Directions]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 24:


Page 6, line 12, leave out (" 3") and insert ("(Prohibition orders)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 3. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 85 [Review of decisions]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 25:


Page 51, line 28, leave out paragraph (a) and insert:
("( ) to make an order against the applicant under section (Prohibition orders)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 3. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 26:


Page 51, line 30, after (" 9") insert ("of this Act or section 168(4) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment extends the requirement for the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority to review upon application decisions to impose penalties made under this Bill to cover decisions to impose penalties arising from the provisions of the Pension Schemes Act 1993, as amended by this Bill. I am sure noble Lords will agree that that is desirable. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 86 [References and appeals from the Authority]:

The Earl of Buckinghamshire moved Amendment No. 27:


Page 52, line 31, leave out from beginning to ("may") in line 32.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving this amendment perhaps I may give some of the background to it. I believe that there should be stronger rights of appeal to the court on the exercise of OPRA's powers; for instance, where it is going beyond points of law. I suspect that my noble friend the Minister will say that there are already provisions in the Bill for OPRA to review its decisions and its further regulation-making powers in this area. However, I wish to re-emphasise that OPRA will be a body with very strong powers. While it is supported by everyone in your Lordships' House and in the industry, there are points where OPRA will be both the investigator and the enforcer. In that situation I believe that there should be stronger rights of appeal in primary legislation. That would bring OPRA into line with analogous regulatory bodies. For instance, under the Charities Act individuals may appeal to the High Court against decisions of the Charity Commissioners. I am sure that noble Lords are aware that under the Financial Services Act bodies such as IMRO operate procedures for appeals to separate appeals tribunals. On that basis there is a strong reason

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for introducing this amendment which gives stronger rights of appeal to the court where OPRA's powers have been used. I beg to move.

Baroness Seear: My Lords, in view of the anxieties which we have expressed as regards this Bill and many others about the way in which the Government are taking powers which should be under control elsewhere, we are very glad to support any amendment which requires reference to the courts rather than leaving the matter in the hands of the authorities.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, as I said in Committee when we discussed an identical amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, our concern is that OPRA should be an effective regulator. I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, agrees with me, despite her last comment, that we want OPRA to be a body with considerable authority and teeth to act when it believes that something is going wrong with a pension scheme. To do that OPRA will sometimes have to take difficult decisions, but such decisions will be made by the board of the authority whose members will be drawn from a wide field of expertise. They will be taken only after careful and lengthy consideration of the issues involved.

We expect the authority to have close involvement with schemes which appear to be experiencing difficulties. OPRA will resort to significant sanctions or major steps, such as directing the wind-up of a scheme, only when it is the sole means of securing members' rights without a further deterioration in the position of the scheme. Once made, such decisions will need to be implemented swiftly to ensure that we stop the rot.

I made clear that we recognise the case for providing that decisions of the authority can be re-examined. To that end the Bill provides a mechanism for the authority to review its own decisions. Anyone with an interest in the decision has the right to ask the authority to review significant sanctions such as the removal or disqualification of trustees and the imposition of fines. We intend to establish a clear framework in regulations for this review process which will ensure that the decision is re-examined in an impartial manner. We intend to consult the Council on Tribunals on these regulations.

However, I still believe that extending the right of appeal—

Baroness Seear: My Lords, how can the Minister say that the body will be impartial? Or have I misunderstood him? In effect, is not the review being undertaken by the same body which made the initial decision? There are occasions when one wants a completely outside, independent and different body to examine the decision. That is the whole point of going to court.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I understand the point the noble Baroness makes. Perhaps that does not show a great deal of confidence in the ability of OPRA to undertake its proper functions. Under the regulations, and with the help of the Council on Tribunals, we can have a procedure which means that

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if someone complains about a decision by OPRA they can feel that OPRA's own appeal procedure ensures that the case is again carefully examined and reconsidered.

We believe that if one extends the right of appeal—this is an important point which I hope the noble Baroness will take on board—to a court on any grounds, that will undermine OPRA's ability to act decisively and endanger its regulatory role. I believe that we are all agreed that we want this enforcement authority to be able to act swiftly and effectively. I believe that the amendment and the possibility of the case being taken to court, with all the costs and time that that can sometimes entail, would compromise the authority's ability to do that.

As I said, court action can also be very time consuming and there are already concerns about the load on the courts. As I pointed out earlier, the time taken for a case to come to court, let alone to resolve an appeal, could mean that the position of a pension scheme deteriorated further with members' legitimate pension rights being eaten away. I do not believe any of us want to lay out a scheme in this Bill which would bring about that sort of situation. One of the reasons for having a powerful regulator, able to take decisive and effective action, is precisely to avoid the delays and costs of court action. That is what, in the past, has made it so difficult for scheme members or trustees to take action. I do not believe that, with the rigorous review procedures that we will put in place, there is any need to hamstring the authority's effectiveness with an unnecessary mechanism of appeal to the courts.

I hope that having listened to what I have said and on reflection, my noble friend will be able to withdraw his amendment.

The Earl of Buckinghamshire: My Lords, I thank very much the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, for her support for the amendment. For much of this Bill we have had discussions on the balances and counter-balances required. We should be well aware of the very strong powers that OPRA has been given through this Bill. I listened to what my noble friend said; I am disappointed with his reply. I understand the points about bureaucracy and going through the law courts. But there is no method, unless we adopt this amendment or something close to it, of having some checks on OPRA's powers.

The noble Lord puts forward the opposite argument, saying that OPRA needs to be very effective in what it is doing. I do not believe that the amendment removes that effectiveness. It brings some fairness into the situation. I listened to my noble friend's words and I am disappointed, but at this stage I do not wish to take the matter forward. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 28 not moved.]

Clause 88 [Inspection of premises]:


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