Pension Scheme Investment

Treasury – in the House of Commons am ar 14 Tachwedd 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of David Simmonds David Simmonds Ceidwadwyr, Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner

What steps his Department is taking to encourage pension schemes to invest in the UK.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Ceidwadwyr, Stratford-on-Avon

What steps his Department is taking to encourage pension schemes to invest in the UK.

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Chancellor of the Exchequer

In my speech at Mansion House in July, I announced reforms to boost pensions, increase investment in UK businesses, and improve UK capital market competitiveness. Those reforms could result in over £1,000 a year of additional retirement income and unlock £75 billion-worth of investment in high-growth businesses.

Photo of David Simmonds David Simmonds Ceidwadwyr, Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner

Many local authorities have given the investment managers for their pension funds a mandate to invest in infrastructure. What plans does my right hon. Friend have to encourage greater infrastructure investment by UK public sector pension funds?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Chancellor of the Exchequer

I thank my hon. Friend for his interest in this issue—of course, he has great experience of local government. Working with the former Economic Secretary to the Treasury, my hon. Friend Andrew Griffith, who I see is in the Chamber, we announced major reforms in July to help local government pension funds lead the way in the transformation we are looking for, in particular by sending a direction that they should invest in pools worth more than £50 billion. That will make it easier for them to have the expertise necessary to invest in infrastructure.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Ceidwadwyr, Stratford-on-Avon

I welcome the proposals that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor made in his Mansion House speech, which will increase investment in the United Kingdom. In his upcoming autumn statement, I implore him to build on his Budget announcement with a policy that was originally advocated for in a paper by the Adam Smith Institute, a think-tank I am proud to be patron of, as is set out in my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. I implore him to make full expensing permanent and to scrap the hated factory tax.

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Chancellor of the Exchequer

I have a very small bone to pick with my right hon. Friend, because when I became Chancellor I was hoping to say that I was the first Chancellor who was once an entrepreneur, but he pipped me to the post. However, he is absolutely right to say how important it is to have competitive business investment taxes. I was very proud in the spring Budget to introduce full expensing for three years, which gives us some of the most competitive business taxes in the OECD. Only five other countries do that, and I will of course keep under review any possibility to extend that tax break.

Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Chair, International Trade Committee, Chair, Energy Security and Net Zero Committee, Chair, Energy Security and Net Zero Committee

Is investment not needed in the UK given that 13 years of Tory rule have resulted in a £137 billion UK deficit? Meanwhile independent Ireland has a €10 billion surplus from its economic growth and investment. That is an Ireland without the oil or natural resources of Scotland, which is now about to start a sovereign wealth fund. Where did the failing crisis-hit UK go wrong and independent Ireland go right? The clue, by the way, is in the question.

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Chancellor of the Exchequer

I find that a very curious question. If the hon. Member is proud of Scotland’s natural resources, why does he want to cancel North sea oil and gas exploration, which is the very thing that can give families across the United Kingdom security from the energy shocks we have seen from things such as the invasion of Ukraine?

Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government)

There is encouraging news in that the Pension Insurance Corporation has recently announced that it is going to invest in helping to support the building of 1,200 new affordable homes in this city. Does the Chancellor agree that pension funds could be a very important source of capital for developing social rented housing around the country—Eden Housing Association, South Lakes Housing, and Westmorland and Furness Council, for example? Will he look at the rules and bring in greater incentives for pension investment funds to invest in affordable housing across the country?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Chancellor of the Exchequer

We are already working on proposals in that very area. Broadly speaking, we have one of the most robust and resilient pension fund sectors in the world, but we are doing a lot of work to remove the barriers to investing back into the UK. Things such as affordable housing, infrastructure and our growth businesses are areas of great potential.