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The Pensions Schemes Bill 2014-15 would:

– Establish a new legislative framework for private pensions, defining them on the basis of the promise they offer for members about their retirement benefits during the accumulation phase. The promise will refer to all of the benefits (defined benefits), some of the benefits (shared risk), or there will be no promise (defined contributions);

– Enable the provision of collective benefits (provided on the basis of allowing the scheme’s assets to be used in a way that pools risks across membership); and

– Give force to measures connected with the announcement in Budget 2014 that people aged 55 and over would have more flexibility about how to access their defined contribution pension savings from April 2015. The changes to pension tax legislation necessary to implement these changes are in the Taxation of Pensions Bill 2014-15.

The Bill (HC Bill 12) had its First Reading in the House of Commons on 26 June 2014 and its Second Reading on 2 September. During Committee stage (between 21 October and 4 November), the Government made some 72 amendments, all of which were agreed to without division. The purpose of some of these amendments was to restructure the Bill into a more logical order. Others were detailed amendments to existing provisions in the Bill. New measures introduced included provision for pensions for fee-paid judges and the extension to Scotland of certain provisions about marriage of same sex couples. The government amendments on which there was most debate related to the introduction of the ‘guidance guarantee’ for people approaching retirement with defined contribution pension savings from April 2015. Two Opposition amendments – relating to governance and default options for people who do not make a decision at retirement – were negatived on division. The Bill had its Report stage (where the Government made further amendments) and Third Reading on 25 November 2014.

HL Bill 63 had its First Reading in the House of Lords on 26 November and will have its Second Reading on Tuesday 16 December.

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