CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

WORK AND PENSIONS – DISHONOURED PENSIONS – 16 March 2006

[Mr John Denham: My Right Hon. Friend [The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, John Hutton] talked about extending the financial assistance scheme. When he does that, will he bear in mind that there is a group of schemes, including the APW scheme in Hampshire, in which the employer is still solvent, but the trustees were effectively forced into compromise with no option, with the loss of a significant part of individuals' pensions? So far, the Government have set their face against extending the financial assistance scheme to schemes such as APW. Will he give me an assurance that in the review that is taking place he will look afresh at that group of schemes to see whether assistance can be offered, because those people have suffered just as much as anybody else, and through no fault of their own?

Mr John Hutton: I fully accept what my Right Hon. Friend says. This is a very difficult group of cases ... We will need to have another look at it as part of the review, but I am afraid that I am not holding out any promise to him that we will be able to make progress in this particular area. However, I assure him that we will take another look at it and see what further help, if any, we are able to give. ... ]

Dr Julian Lewis: I warmly welcome the glimmer of hope that the Secretary of State [John Hutton] has given for the first time to APW Electronics employees, in his answer to the Right Hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (John Denham). May I ask him to focus, however, on the health warning that was attached to the [occupational pensions] leaflets? When I read something that says: "This advice is for guidance only", it makes me think that I should be guided by it. People who are encouraged to invest are told, in a forthright way in many advertisements, that the value of their investment can go down as well as up. Will the Secretary of State at least consider ruling that, in future, all such guidance will be phrased in much stronger and less ambiguous terms?