BUSINESS QUESTION – DISHONOURED PENSIONS – 13 January 2005

Dr Julian Lewis: May we have a debate on the Financial Assistance Scheme that the Government have rightly set up to try to help people who have had their pension schemes destroyed as a result of firms going into liquidation? Such a debate would allow us to raise the case of APW Electronics Ltd. in Eastleigh. It has not gone into liquidation, but only because it was able to blackmail its workforce into accepting a huge reduction in their pension returns, or else the company would be liquidated. My party has stated that it would use the unclaimed assets in dormant bank and building society accounts to bail out people in such situations. Will the Government do the same?

[Peter Hain: I am sure that that issue was debated during the passage of the Pensions Act 2004 during the previous Session. Through that, the Government have established the Pension Protection Fund, which is a big advance for the future. We have also provided extra funding for those who have been so scandalously robbed of their pensions. However, there will be an opportunity to raise the matter at Department of Trade and Industry questions on 27 January.]