§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. Chris Pond)
Improving member protection is a Government priority. The Pension Protection Fund and the Pensions Regulator form the basis of providing such protection and successful introduction of both organisations is a priority of this Government.
As the Pensions Bill is continuing its passage through the House there has been cross-party support for the principles behind both the Pension Protection Fund and the Pensions Regulator and the desire to provide protection for individuals as soon as possible.
The intention, subject to parliamentary approval, is to achieve successful introduction of both organisations by April 2005. This timetable is very challenging and in 181WS order to make this date a reality it is necessary for the Department for Work and Pensions to carry out essential activities in advance of the legislation receiving Royal Assent.
Therefore, Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £477,000 for these new services will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Department for Work and Pensions as soon as legislation is passed. Pending that approval, this urgent expenditure will be met by repayable cash advances from the contingency fund.
In addition, although no cash advance is required, the Department for Work and Pensions will be agreeing to contractual and lease arrangements in respect of accommodation in Croydon, where the staff of the Pension Protection Fund will be located. These negotiations are ongoing, however the Department will endeavour to keep resource consequences to a minimum. When these costs are known the Department will inform the House.
Croydon was chosen as it met the three key criteria, essential to ensure that the Pension Protection Fund can operate with optimum effectiveness and efficiency, within the required deadline. These key criteria are: achieving successful implementation—which includes direct links and proximity to both the Pension Regulator in Brighton and key stakeholders in London: ability to recruit the right staff and value for money.