I was delighted to come out of the Private Members Bill (PMB) ballot at the beginning of the parliamentary session, which gives me the opportunity to bring forward a piece of legislation of my choosing.
My PMB, the Pension Schemes (Conversion of Minimum Guaranteed Pensions) Bill, was given its Second Reading in the Chamber on Friday. It was second on the list of Bills being read that day, after Dr Liam Fox MP’s Down Syndrome Bill which was passed to resounding support from all Members present, myself included.
My PMB is a small and technical one that will amend existing Guaranteed Minimum Pension (or GMPs) legislation that governs the way these schemes are converted into other scheme benefits.
GMPs are the minimum pension that an occupational pension scheme, contracted out of the additional State Pension between April 1978 and April 1997 on a salary related basis, has to provide to its members. The amount ensures that members receive at least a broadly similar amount of pension income in retirement as they would have done had they not been contracted out.
My Bill seeks to correct a basic issue where men and women are treated differently through schemes because of the impact of GMPs. It helps pensions schemes to ensure that people do not receive less pension income than they would have if they were the opposite sex. The current discrepancy does not only negatively impact women – both men and women have benefited and lost out as a result of current legislation.
The legislation is something that industry have called for over a long period of time now, and this Bill will make the methodology they should use in converting much clearer. I was pleased to announce on Friday that this Bill has secured Government backing.
I am very grateful to all of my parliamentary colleagues who spoke in the debate on Friday, and for their support in the Bill passing its Second Reading. I’m excited to take forward this legislation through its remaining stages and hopefully, to it receiving Royal Assent and entering our statute books.