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Mr. Timms: The hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Mr. Davies) demonstrated again this evening his remarkable ability to make material that is worth five minutes last for 35. The House will have enjoyed that, although why it was necessary for him to do it on this occasion, I am not sure.

Stakeholder pension schemes are at the heart ofour plans to modernise the pension system. They will provide--for many people for the first time--affordable funded pensions so that they can look forward to a secure income in retirement. There has been wide support for their introduction from those who responded to the Green Paper and others, both for the aims of the policy and for the structure that we have put in place to achieve them. We are working closely with the industry to ensure their success.

The hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Mrs. Browning) asked about trustees. The Bill provides for stakeholder pensions to be run in a way that puts members' interests first. Trust-based schemes run by a board of trustees will do exactly that. We will consult between now and the summer on the details of how the trustee arrangements will work. If I understood her correctly, she supports the involvement of trustees in the schemes. I agree, but, as I said in Committee, we want to retain flexibility. That is why we have not ruled out possible alternative governance structures if they can deliver comparable protection.

In the Labour party manifesto, we promised to introduce a framework for stakeholder pensions to meet the needs of those who could not join a good-value second pension. We said that schemes would be approved to receive people's savings only if they met high standards and provided value for money, flexibility and security. The framework in the Bill fulfils that commitment. Contrary to what Conservative Members said, there have been no U-turns. Our position on group personal pensions is the one set out in the Green Paper; we asked for views on it on page 59. We are listening to those views and will reach a conclusion on that basis. That is what we always said that we would do, and we will do it.

Dr. Lewis Moonie (Kirkcaldy): My hon. Friend knows that I want to raise the issue of Christian conscience. He is aware that many Christians cannot take up pension plans under existing or proposed legislation. Many hon. Members on both sides of the House have taken the matter up with the Treasury. Can he reassure me that any regulations under the Bill will take account of Christian conscience regarding the appropriate pension offered,

20 May 1999 : Column 1316

contributions to a scheme and the rights of employees to refuse on Christian conscience grounds any scheme offered?

Mr. Timms: I am well aware of those issues. My hon. Friend put one of his constituents in touch with me. A group from the Plymouth Brethren came to discuss those points with me. Nothing in the Bill or any of our proposals would require employers to contribute to pension schemes on behalf of their employees. We are consulting on the possibility of making it a condition of employment that people should join their occupational scheme, if there is one. That would need to be subject to opt-out arrangements. We will carefully consider my hon. Friend's point in deciding them. I think that the people who have been in touch with him and me will feel generally content about our way forward on this.

Mr. Leigh: I am sorry to labour the point, but the Plymouth Brethren are a tiny group. No one in the House supports their views, which is all the more reason why we should be careful to ensure that their conscience is protected. They cannot join any existing pension scheme, except the basic state pension, because of their religious belief. The Minister must reassure them that they will not be forced into a stakeholder pension against their conscience.

Mr. Timms: I can categorically assure the hon. Gentleman that no one will be forced into a stakeholder pension if they do not wish to join one. The Plymouth Brethren are not that small a group. I much enjoyed the meeting that took place on the initiative of my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Dr. Moonie).

Let me briefly deal with some of the points raised in the debate. New clause 13 would compel employers to offer payroll deduction facilities for almost all pension arrangements. Conservative Members appear to believe that that would provide an adequate replacement for stakeholder pensions. In reality, providing access to other sorts of scheme would not be a substitute for the benefits that we expect for members from stakeholder pension schemes. The hon. Member for Northavon (Mr. Webb) is right to say that the proposals would place a substantial, additional burden on business. Businesses would have to send out regular payments to an unlimited number of pension schemes--depending on how many people work in the organisation. That is not sensible.

The hon. Member for Vale of York (Miss McIntosh) made a much more interesting suggestion. I commend her for raising the point because it seems to have eluded her hon. Friends.

There is a possibility of making a clearing-house arrangement under which employers would make a single payment to a clearing house. The clearing house would then sort out which company the payments should be passed on to. That proposal is favoured by the Confederation of British Industry, for example. It is one of the possibilities on which we shall consult between now and the summer.

Amendment No. 83 would enable existing group personal pensions to qualify as stakeholder pension schemes. Again, we have been absolutely consistent on that point. We do not want to undermine good-value existing provision, but personal pensions do not have many of the features that will make stakeholder pension schemes a good deal for their members.

20 May 1999 : Column 1317

Stakeholder pension schemes will provide a better-value, more flexible alternative for many of those who cannot join an occupational scheme. The proposed governance structure is an important part of that; we are determined that stakeholder schemes will be run in their members' interests. It is here that personal pension schemes often fall short of the high standards that we want for stakeholder pension schemes. We are keen not to discourage high-quality provision and will be consulting further on our specific proposals as to how we could best incorporate into the new regime arrangements that meet our high standards and offer good-quality provision.

Amendment No. 80 deals with advice. It is right that people considering joining any pension scheme should have access to good, accurate financial information and advice. We have said that throughout, and our commitment to that should not be in doubt. Since we came to office, one of our priorities has been to ensure that pension companies and advisers clear up the mis-selling scandal that we inherited from the previous Government. The arrangements instituted by the Conservative Government created an enormous number of problems--not least by, wrongly, inducing many people to leave good occupational schemes of the kind referred to by the hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) and to enter personal schemes that were much less advantageous.

The amendment would require stakeholder pension schemes to certify that all applicants who want to join their employer's designated scheme have received independent financial advice. That goes much too far. Individual advice has a cost. In many cases, that cost is worth paying, but, given the right information, many potential members will be perfectly capable of making an appropriate choice for themselves.

We expect that significant numbers of those joining stakeholder schemes will do so through their employers. To require all those applicants to receive independent advice would impose excessive costs on schemes if they had to meet the costs of its provision--as they will in many cases.

Amendment No. 81 would require a higher limit on contributions to stakeholder pension schemes than the £3,600 that we proposed, and proposes that, as an alternative, the limit could be set by reference to the relevant personal pension limit. Our proposal is intended to provide a simple, clear system. I can assure hon. Members that contribution limits are one of the aspects of the schemes on which we shall be carrying out further detailed consultation between now and the summer, in the light of the representations that we have received to date. Following that consultation, all aspects of the tax regime--including the maximum level of contributions--will, as is normal, be set out in a Finance Bill or tax regulations as appropriate, but they will not be included in this Bill.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

It being six hours after the commencement of proceedings, Mr. Deputy Speaker proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:--

20 May 1999 : Column 1318

The House divided: Ayes 128, Noes 420.

Division No. 192
[7.14 pm


Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Beggs, Roy
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Body, Sir Richard
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burns, Simon
Butterfill, John
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Colvin, Michael
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cran, James
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Day, Stephen
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Flight, Howard
Forsythe, Clifford
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Grieve, Dominic
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Loughton, Tim
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Maples, John
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Moss, Malcolm
Norman, Archie
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
St Aubyn, Nick
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thompson, William
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Woodward, Shaun
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Tim Collins and
Mr. Oliver Heald.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blair, Rt Hon Tony
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Boateng, Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Gordon
(Dunfermline E)
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnett, John
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Cable, Dr Vincent
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chidgey, David
Church, Ms Judith
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Ms Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dewar, Rt Hon Donald
Dismore, Andrew
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fearn, Ronnie
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Galbraith, Sam
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Gorrie, Donald
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Harvey, Nick
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Home Robertson, John
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kingham, Ms Tess
Kirkwood, Archy
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McLeish, Henry
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Mountford, Kali
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Rt Hon George
(Hamilton S)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Shipley, Ms Debra
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stott, Roger
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Wallace, James
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
Welsh, Andrew
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Willis, Phil
Wills, Michael
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Mike Hall and
Mr. Clive Betts.

Question accordingly negatived.

20 May 1999 : Column 1321

Question put, That the remaining Government amendments be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 381, Noes 153.

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