Lords concludes examination of the Pensions Bill

15 May 2014

The Pensions Bill received royal assent, becoming law on Wednesday 14 May.

During its passage through the House of Lords the bill spent six days in grand committee, the chance for line by line scrutiny. It spent two days in report, a further opportunity for peers to examine the bill and make changes. It then went though third reading, the final amending stage, where potential loopholes can be plugged.

Lords consideration of Commons' amendments: Tuesday 8 April

The government confirmed it will launch a review into the position of individuals with non-standard working patterns - including those on zero-hour contracts, job sharers and flexible workers - and the difficulties they face in building a state pension.

The Pensions Bill now awaits royal assent - the point at which it becomes law. A date is yet to be scheduled.

Pensions Bill third reading: Wednesday 12 March

Members of the Lords began by discussing the potential impact of the new pension credit scheme on cold weather payments and the warm home discount scheme. The government confirmed its consultation on a new fuel poverty strategy, due to take place later this year, will include the issue of fuel poverty among older people.

The government also reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring costs and charges in defined workplace pension schemes are made as transparent as possible.

Pensions Bill report stage day two: Wednesday 26 February

Members of the Lords began by discussing an amendment to address the problem of the large number of dormant small value pension pots created under the system of auto-enrolment. A suggestion that these small pots be transferred to an aggregator, rather than following the individual into their new employment, went to a vote. Members voted 201 in favour and 251 against, so the change was not made.

A second amendment called for regulations to restrict work-based pension scheme charges to be brought before Parliament before 30 April 2015. Members voted 165 in favour and 225 against, so the deadline was not imposed.

The introduction of an independent annuity brokerage service for pension scheme members approaching retirement was also discussed. The amendment was not agreed after members voted 131 in favour and 197 against.

Pensions Bill report stage day one: Monday 24 February

Members of the Lords began by discussing the planned introduction of a single flat-rate state pension from 2016. An amendment to recognise non-standard working patterns, allowing those on zero-hour contracts, job sharers and flexible workers, to aggregate their pay to build a state pension, went to a vote. Members voted 215 in favour and 210 against, so the change was made.

A second vote took place on bereavement support payments and a proposal to extend work conditionality for widowed parents from six to twelve months. Members voted 202 in favour and 237 against the amendment. The change was not made.

Pensions Bill grand committee stage

The Pensions Bill spent six days in grand committee in the Moses Room. The process is almost identical to committee stage taken in the chamber as members carry out a detailed line by line examination of the separate parts (clauses and schedules) of a bill.

Starting from the front of the bill, members work through to the end. Any member of the Lords can take part. The single exception is that votes do not take place in a grand committee. Any issues requiring a vote must be resolved when the bill returns to the main chamber for report stage.

20 January (day six)

15 January (day five)

13 January (day four)

8 January (day three)

18 December (day two)

16 December (day one)

Pensions Bill second reading: Tuesday 3 December

Lord Freud (Conservative), minister for Welfare Reform, opened the debate stating the bill's intention to reform state and private pensions and bereavement benefits. He set out plans to increase enrollment into workplace pensions, move towards a single-tier 'flat rate' state pension and bring forward the planned increase in pension age.

Members raised concerns about the transition to the single-tier system, the rise in pension age for some women (born 1951-1953), the effect of welfare reforms on state pensions, the age review and the structure and recipients of bereavement support.

Other members discussed how much people are saving for retirement and whether individuals are anticipating what they will want to spend in retirement.

Pensions Bill summary

The bill seeks to define laws around pensions and about benefits payable to people in connection with bereavement.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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