MINISTERS stopped the Pensions Bill from continuing through the Lords last night after discovering a range of controversial clauses could forced relatives of company directors to "make good" black holes in company pension schemes with their own money, says this morning's Times .
Baroness Hollis of Heigham, Minister for the Department for Work and Pensions in the Lords, told the house: “We are sympathetic to concerns over the clauses and will be looking at them over the summer in consultation with industry groups.”
The rethink will allow the Government to redraft sections 35, 39 and 40 of the Bill, which are intended to punish executives who intentionally dodge their responsibilities to the company pension scheme.
Government ministers dismissed industry concerns about these clauses two months ago, which could force innocent company directors, shareholders and even directors’ relatives to plug pension fund holes in the companies they own or manage.
THE INVESTIGATION into the near-collapse of Equitable Life should be reopened, according to a letter sent to Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham by the chairman of an influential Commons committee, says the Scotsman newspaper.
Dr Tony Wright, chairman of the Public Administration Select Committee - to which Abraham reports - said there is a case for investigating potential maladministration by the mutual’s regulators, and the Government Actuaries Department (GAD) – contrary to Abraham’s own findings.
Policyholders and MPs have urged her to look again at the role played by the Treasury and the DTI, which both regulated the society, and the GAD.
One in 10 companies listed in the FTSE 350 index now have a pension fund deficit equal to 20% of its market capitalisation, according to a Mercer report in this morning’s Daily Telegraph.
A survey of annual reports issued by FTSE 350 companies in the past year, however, shows that the overall pension fund deficit fell from £74bn to £64bn in 2003.
SAINSBURY’S yesterday performed a dramatic climbdown and is now refusing to pay the agreed £2.4m deal to ousted chairman Sir Peter Davis, adds the Scotsman.
After weeks of intense investor pressure, the besieged supermarket group said it had instructed its lawyers to find a way not to pay Sir Peter his 2003-04 bonus of 864,000 share options - worth about £2.4m.
Shareholders were going to attempt to vote against the report of the board’s remuneration committee, at the Sainsbury AGM this Monday, in a bid to stop the payment being made, however, the ballot will not be legally binding so Sainsbury’s has now withdrawn its support for the payout.
AND STUART ROSE, chief executive of Marks & Spencer, has been cleared by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) of insider trading in the company’s shares, continues the Scotsman.
Rose bought 100,000 shares in the company on 7 May, the day he received a phone call from Philip Green about an upcoming meeting.
Green confirmed to the FSA that he had only told Rose of his intention to bid for the company five days later. But rumours began circulating that Rose knew of the plan when he bought the shares.IFAonline
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