§ Mr. Willetts
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many reports Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority has received of companies that failed to designate a stakeholder pension in time for the 8 October deadline; how many fines it has imposed as a result; and what the total value of fines imposed is. 
§ Mr. McCartney
Opra has, up to 31 December 2001, received 220 reports of alleged failure of an employer to designate a stakeholder pension scheme for its work force. Seventy seven of those cases have been cleared, either because the employer has now designated a scheme or because the designation requirement does not apply.
On average it can take Opra up to three months to look into a reported failure to designate a stakeholder pension scheme. Initial reports are sometimes anonymous and work can be needed to track down accurate contact details for the employer. Opra will then write to the employer to establish the facts of the case and point out the employer's responsibilities. Opra will check by telephone that the letter has been received, and will give the employer around four weeks to respond. In some situations the employer may need time to meet with their advisers to clarify their circumstances—especially where there is a possibility that they may be exempt. On receiving a response from the employer, Opra may need to contact the employer again to clarify information provided in the response or to request further information.
The Government seek to work in co-operation with business on stakeholder pensions. Opra's overriding objective is to secure compliance with the law rather than to punish. At present, if the employer complies with the law before the investigation is completed, Opra will take no further action. Given this approach, and the normal timescales involved in following up reports, it is too early for any cases to have progressed to an Opra Board for consideration of a fine.46W
At the end of November 2001, 304,750 employers had already designated a stakeholder scheme for their work force.