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Labour must stand up for "new capitalists", says Sedgefield MP
LABOUR must stand up for “new capitalists” as well as traditional workers a North-East MP said today, as he introduced his own Bill.
Phil Wilson, the Sedgefield MP, demanded action to ensure pension fund managers obey a “fiduciary duty” to properly look after the money of ordinary savers.
The Labour backbencher questioned whether the pensions industry was serving the millions who depend on it, warning: “In some cases the system fails.”
Mr Wilson called for:
- The same fiduciary duty to be imposed on fund managers as is required of pension trustees.
- A requirement to publish information about “where money is invested and why”.
- Votes taken by asset managers on the pay for corporate executives to be published, saying: “These votes represent our interest and should not be secret.”
- Fees paid to pension managers and other intermediaries to be published – a watchdog discovered 18 different charges levied on pension funds.
- Any fines levied on financial institution to also be imposed on the “individual perpetrators of the miss-selling”.
Mr Wilson told MPs: “Over the decades, the Labour movement has championed workers rights.
“Now we must champion the rights of working people as capital holders, as investors in the stock market. They are the new capitalists - and they are our people too.”
The MP added: “All of this matters, because it is unacceptable for fees to eat up as much as 40 per cent of a pension pot.
“Even the gasman, who comes to fix your boiler, has a legal requirement to be signed up to the Gas Safety Register and needs to retrain every five years.
“If this applies to a doctor, a solicitor and a gas fitter, it should apply to financial agents and fund managers.”
Mr Wilson’s Bill comes just weeks after the Government was sharply criticised for shelving the introduction of a cap for charges on company pension schemes.
Steve Webb, the Liberal Democrat pensions minister, had promised to introduce the limit - probably at less than one per cent - from April.
But any action will now be delayed by at least one year, after heavy lobbying from financial services firms to put back the move until 2015.
Mr Wilson said the pensions industry was now worth more than £2 trillion, or 135 per cent of the size of the UK economy.
He added: “With many of them low paid, the industry has a great responsibility to get it right.”
However, the proposed legislation has virtually no chance of becoming law, because of a lack of parliamentary time.
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