Clause 5 - Transfer of eligible pension benefits to reclaim fund

Dormant Assets Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:25 am ar 11 Ionawr 2022.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Ceidwadwyr, Wealden

With this, it will be convenient to consider clauses 6 and 7 stand part.

Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Clauses 5 to 7 define the pensions assets and participants that are in scope of the scheme. They also set out an owner’s right to reclaim pensions assets and the definitions of dormancy for pension assets.

Contract-based defined contribution personal pensions will be included in the scheme, in line with industry’s recommendation, with the exception of any products in which the policyholder has been automatically enrolled. Income withdrawals as a stand-alone product, as well as when they are owed as part of a personal pension scheme, are also included. Occupational pension schemes are out of scope of the Bill.

Clause 5 provides that a pension institution can transfer dormant pension benefits to an authorised reclaim fund. Clause 6 defines the pension assets that are in scope of the scheme, which are: dormant income withdrawals that have become payable; personal pensions with money purchase arrangements that have become payable; and personal pensions with money purchase arrangements available to become payable.

Personal pension schemes whose owners were automatically enrolled are excluded, as is any scheme with sums invested in with-profit funds. As I have mentioned, occupational pension schemes are out of scope of the Bill. Personal pension schemes are only in scope of the scheme if the conversion to cash happens because the owner is deceased.

Clause 7 defines dormancy for pension assets, in a way that is consistent with the principles that I outlined in my previous speech.

I therefore beg to move that clauses 5 to 7 stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Alex Davies-Jones Alex Davies-Jones Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Minister (Tech, Gambling and the Digital Economy)

I am grateful to the Minister for introducing these clauses. We welcome the first step towards inclusion of pension assets in this legislation. However, I will press him on the potential for expansion of the clause to include further pension assets, as he has outlined. After all, broadening the Bill to include further pension assets will allow further funding to reach the huge range of good causes that are currently benefiting from this process.

As the Minister knows, pension assets were recommended for transfer in consultation. However, the Government have instead decided to restrict the Bill to just cash assets for the time being. I understand from exchanges on Second Reading and in the other place that the Government are reluctant to make this expansion while we wait for the pensions dashboard to be properly up and running, but given the long delays around the introduction of the pensions dashboard, I would be grateful if he could make some commitment as to the timetable for the further widening of this scheme with regard to pension funds.

Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Very briefly.

Of course, further on in the Bill there are processes in place, which I am sure we will come to, to enable the further expansion of additional assets into the scheme. I understand what the hon. Lady is saying. On Second Reading and elsewhere, the potential expansion to other schemes, including to non-cash and non-financial assets, has been proposed. There is a mechanism to enable that expansion to happen in the future. Therefore, this Bill will enable that to happen. However, I am afraid that at this moment in time we cannot make a commitment to that in the Bill. Nevertheless, I certainly understand the hon. Lady’s intent. Again, I think that there is cross-party support for us to investigate those options in the future.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 5 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 6 and 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.