Pensions

Mark Francois Excerpts
Monday 1st March 2021

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for Work and Pensions
Guy Opperman Portrait Guy Opperman
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My hon. Friend is a champion for his constituency and rightly raises the importance of what we are doing. I draw his attention to two key points: first, the Pension Schemes Act will make his constituents’ pensions safer, better and greener; and secondly, the automatic enrolment reforms that we have brought forward as a coalition Government and then a Conservative Government unquestionably support his constituents, who are saving in their thousands, to the tune of 8% per annum.

Of course, my hon. Friend will be aware that in 2012, approximately 35% of our young people were saving into a workplace pension, and now 86% in his community are doing so. Similarly, women, who were saving at 40%, are now saving, quite obviously, up at 86%, as I outlined earlier.

Mark Francois Portrait Mr Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford) (Con)
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Very quickly, I have a compliment and a question. The compliment is that, as an MP of 20 years’ standing, I know that pensions are one of the most difficult things that we get inquiries on from constituents, and the Minister, when he replies, has a knack for explaining these things in everyday English that is simple to understand. I thank him for that.

Guy Opperman Portrait Guy Opperman
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Stop there!

Mark Francois Portrait Mr Francois
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My question is this. The very helpful notes that go with the instrument state:

“A full impact assessment has not been produced for this instrument.”

We were not expecting “War and Peace”. There will be a reason why the Government took that decision; perhaps the Minister will explain it to the House.

Guy Opperman Portrait Guy Opperman
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As always, I am grateful for my right hon. Friend’s intervention and support, and for his kind comments. I accept and take any praise that is due, and likewise hope that all Whips have taken due note of that.

Mark Francois Portrait Mr Francois
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Stop there!

Guy Opperman Portrait Guy Opperman
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Indeed. The practical reality is that I will write to my right hon. Friend with more detail about the impact assessment, but clearly, this is an annual review that is done on an ongoing basis to ensure that the automatic enrolment regulations should be enforced in an appropriate way, and they should be reviewed and assessed in an appropriate way.

Some colleagues have raised matters of the Budget, and I leave that to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. Similarly, the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), whose comments we always appreciate—it is an honour to respond to the great man—asked for a specific assurance that the Government will continue to support employers. I can give him the profound assurance that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor on Wednesday will continue the massive support that this Government have made to employers on an ongoing basis. That will continue.

Clearly, we work on an ongoing basis to implement by the mid-2020s the automatic enrolment review; we continue to work forward on the pensions dashboard; section 125 of the Pension Schemes Act has made a significant difference on pension scams; and we continue to put climate change at the heart of pensions, which are now safer, better and greener under this Government.

Question put and agreed to.

Royal Assent