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Earl Russell: I am sure that the Minister did not expect to get away without one speech from me on "such requirements as may be prescribed". The noble Baroness knows that those are words to which I am somewhat allergic.

I understand that in a subject as complex as this, and where small changes in response to circumstances may be needed as often as this, the regulatory power cannot altogether be avoided. So that is not an issue between us. However, this provision is drawn in very general terms. It really does say that the Secretary of State may do whatever he likes. I should like a more defining purpose clause to say what it might be.

If we are to have this sort of open-ended regulation, the provisions for parliamentary scrutiny and control of regulation have to be a great deal better than they are now. Some of your Lordships probably heard the Business Motion moved by the noble Baroness the Lord Privy Seal at the beginning of today's business. That related to the regulations renewing the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1989, from which the Government happened to have left out two rather important sections. In the course of two years no one noticed that they had done so.

We talk about scrutiny and reassurances as always relating exclusively to scrutiny. But is it not a fact that practising scrutiny without control is a little like practising football with the goal blocked up. It really

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does not engage the interest. If this sort of thing is to become general, the treatment of regulation in this Chamber will need some more attention.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: I might have guessed when the noble Earl entered the Chamber that such phrases as this might catch his eye. They have indeed done so in the past.

What I plead in mitigation is that the Bill has been thoroughly scrutinised by the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee. As far as I am aware it has not commented on this proposal. It took no objection to it. It suggested only some modest changes to the entire Bill and every one of those we are happy to accept. So all I would say is that the watchdog appointed by your Lordships' House was apparently content with the phrasing in this clause.

6.30 p.m.

Earl Russell : I fully accept that, but the watchdog did not notice what happened to the Prevention of Terrorism Order renewal either.

Lord Higgins: I am far too junior in this House to challenge the decisions of the body referred to by the Minister. Nonetheless, I find it a wide power.

As regards the groupings, they arrived late yesterday afternoon. In suggesting the grouping, it seemed to me that there were separate issues with regard to trusts, for example, as opposed to the broad powers referred to by the noble Earl, Lord Russell. It seemed helpful to take the trust issue separately, rather than deal with it under the clause which gives these wide powers. However, another strange situation has arisen for which I am not responsible. The next two amendments, Nos. 5 and 6, go together and I am equally puzzled as to how they became separated.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Perhaps I may intervene. I have with me the Government's original set of groupings. We proposed to group Amendments Nos. 2 and 10, for example, with No. 19. We also proposed to group together a number of issues on governance. Those groupings were published at the appropriate time around midday yesterday. I understand that the Opposition savagely ungrouped all our groupings and produced a shopping list virtually of single amendments, even though we visit some issues several times.

If I have misunderstood the position and during the dinner break the noble Lord is happy to do some hasty regrouping, that would be to the convenience of the Committee and greatly welcome. We produced groupings which were one-third to one-half the number of separate debates now listed because we would otherwise be repetitive, which would be to no one's advantage.

Lord Higgins: It would be best if the noble Baroness and I were to discuss the matter outside the Chamber. The list seemed to come out very late in the day, but no doubt we can go into that. I suggested that we should

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de-group some of the amendments because it seemed that it would speed up the proceedings and give a more coherent debate, but the next two amendments clearly go together. Perhaps we can chat about that during the break.

As regards Amendment No. 4, which raises much broader issues, I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne): If Amendment No. 5 were to be agreed to I should be unable to call Amendments Nos. 6 or 7 owing to pre-emption.

Lord Higgins moved Amendment No. 5:

Page 1, line 17, leave out subsection (4)

The noble Lord said: There may be a case for taking this amendment and Amendment No. 6 together. It is a probing amendment. The legislation specifically provides that the stakeholder scheme, with,

    "such exceptions as may be prescribed", which undermines the whole thing, shall be a money purchase scheme within the meaning of the existing legislation. I was not clear whether that would include provision for straight insurance schemes or whatever. The noble Baroness, Lady Castle, has tabled an amendment proposing the opposite--that it should not be a money purchase scheme--and no doubt we shall hear her views on that in due course. I beg to move.

Baroness Castle of Blackburn: I rise to speak to Amendment No. 6 which, as the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, pointed out, is more than a probing amendment. It is a very decisive amendment. It is designed to make it clear that approved stakeholder pension schemes will not be money purchase schemes.

I was disappointed in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, in moving Amendment No. 5, because I seem to remember that earlier he warned us most effectively that there was a drift in occupational pension schemes towards money purchase schemes which could become a torrent. Stakeholder pension schemes have to be money purchase schemes. I was beginning to say to myself, "Well, if our minds go on meeting like this, people will start to talk". Obviously, I was premature in my assumption.

I have heard a number of gentlemen opposite warning us about the drift from the major merit of the occupational pension scheme, which was that it would be a defined pension. People would know to what they were contributing and what they would receive in relation to the number of years they served, salary and so on. During our debates today, we have heard widespread warnings that the whole tendency of the stakeholder pension, as it has been revealed to us, is to the poor man's occupational pension scheme; the inferior one. It is to have neither compulsory employers' contributions nor a guarantee of being a defined pension.

Once that is injected into the pension scheme, the noble history of the occupational pension scheme will shrivel and die. We know that some workers are in a

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good occupational pension scheme, but under SERPS people could contract out only into an approved occupational pension scheme. We were very determined to keep up the standards gained for working people in this country; and we surrender those standards at our peril.

We look like having a stakeholder pension which will probably be weakened by not having employers' contributions, and it is doubtful whether even employees will take part in them. The employers' obligation is only to ensure that their workforce has access. That is a lovely word, but all it means is that when somebody or other has set up the stakeholder pension scheme, the employers' obligation will be confined to the check-off. That is taking the worker's contribution from his pay packet. It was one of the convenient arrangements which trade unions tried to reach with employers over trade union dues. Incidentally, I helped them in my notorious In Place of Strife.

However, now we reach the question that is the nail in the coffin of good occupational pension schemes and I urge everyone in the House to think about it carefully. We are given one of the few definitions in the Bill that is not to be prescribed later. We are told that stakeholder pensions "must" be a money purchase scheme. So the risk to the employee is doubled. It is no longer a defined pension. It is at the mercy of stock market plays--the ups and downs and the vagaries of the stock market--and the employer need not contribute.

What are we trying to do? Are we trying to turn back the clock to the pre-war age, before the 1945 Labour Government started to put a platform under the feet of working people and give them standards below which nobody would be allowed to fall? Is all that to go? Is the New Labour philosophy to be "The market reigns, OK"? I think that the House ought to hesitate before it passes this subsection of the Bill. Tonight, I hope that the Minister will make a statement that she is aware of that platform and that she will carefully consider not only what I say but also what other Members of the House have said.

Earl Russell: The noble Baroness, Lady Castle of Blackburn, describes this scheme as the "poor man's occupational pension scheme". I take her point and, to a degree, I share her concern. However, I believe that the Minister can imagine what the noble Baroness, Lady Castle, would have said if she had begun by saying that this is the rich man's occupational pension scheme. The speech that would have followed would have been a much less gentle and much less calm speech than the one to which we have just listened.

The noble Baroness has raised problems that go a great deal wider than her speech indicated. A great deal can be said for a final salary scheme. It is more reliable, more secure and in many cases a better form of provision. However, it is also important that the Bill should provide for as many people as possible. We have heard the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Castle, and many others speak about people who are left out of pension schemes. Too many people are left out and we do not want any more.

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Since the noble Baroness, Lady Castle, was Secretary of State, there have been large changes in the labour market and not necessarily changes for the better. However, to attempt to reverse those changes is not within the powers of the Bill. A fairly large number of years of continuous employment are needed to make a final salary scheme work. Alas, that is now a rare thing indeed for a great many people. The "casualisation" of the global labour market means that many people will be left out of such schemes which could not be money purchase schemes. That would be very unfair.

If the noble Baroness, Lady Castle, is saying that she wants to reverse the changes in the labour market, I believe that that would be a difficult undertaking. However, I would listen to her on the subject with a great deal of interest were it first to be conceded that such a reversal could not be done simply and solely by the Act of a British Parliament. It would have to be approached through international institutions, by global agreements, and it would have to proceed very slowly and carefully with an immense amount of consultation. If the noble Baroness, Lady Castle, wants to embark on that attempt, I would be happy to join her and would approach it with great interest. However, I believe that she is trying to do more within the compass of the Bill than it is within the power of the Bill to accomplish.

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