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FOI reference - FOI 2016-09-08
Date - 08/09/2016

Request

Thank you for your requests for information, dated 8 and 13 August 2016. I have dealt with these under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA).

Initially, in your first request, you asked for the following information:

  • Details of how all members' pension rights pertaining to the Acrow Group were finalised.
  • Details of the actual solicitor or solicitors within Lovell White Durrant (LWD) corresponding with the Occupational Pension Board (OPB) during the 1990s.
  • Full details of all Board members which comprised the Board of the OPB.

In my response to you of 9 August, I explained that we do not hold the above information. In that response, I should have set out in clearer terms why we do not hold the information you requested and directed you to other public authorities who may be able to assist you. Please accept my apologies for this and see below for my further comments / explanation in respect of that information. Please also accept my apologies for not responding to the points raised in your first request before 2 September. We sought to obtain the information you needed within the initial timeframe. However, following liaison with the relevant external parties, we are responding within the timeframe of your second request as we wanted to ensure that your request was given the appropriate level of consideration.

In your second request you asked for the following:

  • Details of the number of files you do hold which were transferred from Newcastle OPB to the new TPR at Napier House Brighton.
  • Names and company affiliations of all executive and non-executive past and present Board members of the current TPR.
  • As regards the Acrow Pension Scheme. Could TPR contact LWD the scheme's trustees and request all correspondence from LWD to the OPB Newcastle.

You also stated that you were disappointed to learn that TPR has no trace of the Acrow Pension Scheme and referred to your impression that the Civil Service keeps documents for at least 80 years prior to destruction. In that context you asked that we undertake a second search of our systems for the information you had requested in your first request.

Please note that my original response did not state that TPR has no trace of the Acrow Pension Scheme. Rather, I explained that we did not hold the information you had requested.

As per your request, I asked the relevant teams here at TPR to undertake a second, fully comprehensive search of our systems. I can now confirm that we hold some information which may be relevant to your first request of 8 August. However, to the extent that this information may be relevant, we are unable to supply the information and our reasoning is set out below. I also confirm that we hold some of the information you requested in your second request of 13 August. However, as this information is publicly available we are not required to provide it in this response. We have provided further information below about where you can access the information.

Response

Details of how all members' pension rights pertaining to the Acrow Group were finalised.

I am not clear exactly what you mean by ‘finalised’ in this instance. However, even if the information we hold is relevant to this part of your request, we would not be able to disclose it.

Whilst the FoIA is based on the presumption of releasing information, section 44(1)(a) of the FoIA provides an absolute exemption to the requirement to disclose any information if its disclosure is prohibited by or under any enactment. In this case, section 82 of the Pensions Act 2004 prohibits disclosure of 'information obtained by the Regulator in the exercise of its functions which relates to the business or other affairs of any person’ save in certain circumstances which do not apply here. Under section 82(5) of the Pensions Act 2004 it is a criminal offence to disclose such information except as permitted under that Act. This exemption is absolute and does not require a public interest assessment be undertaken. We would therefore be unable to disclose this information, even if it were relevant to your request.

Full details of all Board members which comprised the Board of the OPB.

As set out in my previous response, TPR does not hold information relating to the OPB, nor do we believe that TPR has ever owned or held such information. Therefore we cannot provide it. Information relating to the OPB is held by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the National Archives, and any request for information which relates to the OPB should be directed to the following addresses: freedom-of-information-request@dwp.gsi.gov.uk and records and research enquiries. Depending on the type of information you require, your request may be transferred from one of these bodies to the other, but you will be informed if this is the case.

Details of the actual solicitor or solicitors within LWD corresponding with the OPB during the 1990s.

Information relating to or held by the OPB is held by the DWP and the National Archives, and any request for such information should be directed to the following addresses: freedom-of-information-request@dwp.gsi.gov.uk and records and research enquiries.

Details of the number of files you do hold which were transferred from Newcastle OPB to the new TPR at Napier House Brighton.

We have interpreted ‘files’ as meaning case files – if this is incorrect please let us know. TPR does not hold any such files. For completeness, we do, however, hold a register of pension schemes, which we are responsible for compiling and maintaining under section 59 of the Pensions Act 2004. The register contains certain information about registrable schemes. Some of the information on the register may be information that was collected by the OPB when they were the registrar (under the Register of Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes Regulations 1990).

Information relating to or held by the OPB is held by the DWP and the National Archives, and any request for such information should be directed to the following addresses: freedom-of-information-request@dwp.gsi.gov.uk and records and research enquiries.

Names and company affiliations of all executive and non-executive past and present Board members of the current TPR.

I can confirm that we hold this information. However, it is exempt from disclosure under Section 21 of the FoIA. This is because the information is accessible to you as it is already in the public domain. Details of our current Board members and their affiliations can be found on our website, in the Register of Board interests (PDF, 60kb, 2 pages) document.

For the historical information, I can refer you to archived versions of our website, which can be found online via the National Archives. You can find information about the Board under the ‘About Us’ menu on each version of our archived site, and each Register of Interests document will be pertinent to your request.

As regards the Acrow Pension Scheme. Could TPR contact LWD the scheme's trustees and request all correspondence from LWD to the OPB Newcastle.

Finally, I can confirm that we will not be contacting LWD, trading now as Hogan Lovells, to request the above information. This is because the duty to provide information only applies to information actually held by a public authority, and we do not hold this information. As indicated above, information held by or relating to the OPB is held by the Department for Work and Pensions who can be contacted at the address given above. Alternatively you may wish to contact the scheme trustees. If you are unable to trace the trustees of this scheme, you may find it helpful to contact the Pensions Tracing Service.

Duty to provide advice and assistance

I am mindful of the duty to provide advice and assistance to requesters, as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so.

I note your comments of 13 August about the retention periods of the Civil Service. I would like to clarify that TPR sets its own retention periods for all of the information we hold and is not under an obligation to store all information for 80 years. The length of time for which we retain information varies, but I have attached our retention schedule to this response for your perusal. You may also find the information on the following webpage useful. It explains what public authorities should consider when reviewing their information retention policies.

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