Lord Harrison – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Department for Work and Pensions

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Lord Harrison on 2014-03-24.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the case for large occupational defined contribution pension schemes to be active owners or stewards of their assets, in line with the definition of stewardship as outlined in the Financial Reporting Council’s Stewardship Code.

Lord Freud

The Government supports the principles set out in the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) UK Stewardship Code including schemes becoming active stewards of their investments and reporting on that stewardship. The Code sets out a number of areas of good practice to which the FRC believes institutional investors should aspire, and operates on a ‘comply or explain’ basis. It includes guidance for pension schemes and other asset owners on steps they can take to protect and enhance the value that accrues to the ultimate beneficiary. The FCA requires UK authorised asset managers to report on whether or not they apply the Code.

The UK stewardship code is voluntary, however we would encourage workplace pensions schemes to comply with the principles set out in the code. In addition we are developing governance standards of workplace defined contribution schemes, and have asked the Law Commission to investigate how fiduciary duties currently apply in the investment chain. The Pensions Regulator’s defined contribution Code of Practice also sets out the legal requirements and standards they expect trustees of defined contribution schemes to attain. This includes a section on investment which also references the FRC Stewardship code. These initiatives are part of our on-going work to ensure schemes are governed and administered to deliver in members’ interests.