MPs proposed “nuclear deterrent” fines for bosses yesterday in a bid to prevent another BHS-type pensions disaster.
If the measures proposed by the Commons work and pensions committee had been in force at the time, former BHS boss Sir Philip Green could have been fined £1 billion for ripping off the high street chain’s pension scheme.
The MPs suggested that the Pensions Regulator should have powers to treble the amount payable towards covering a scheme’s deficit.
Mr Green had offered a meagre £250 million to plug the BHS pensions deficit, instead of the £350m demanded by the regulator.
The reforms would see it respond sooner when a company pension scheme runs into difficulty and MPs said that it should “never again” take two years to intervene in a pension dispute, as it did in the BHS affair.
The MPs also suggested that all company takeovers should require clearance by the regulator.
Committee chair Frank Field said: “The measures we set out in this report are intended to reduce the chance of another scheme going down the BHS route.
“It is further inconceivable that Sir Philip Green’s deal to dispose of BHS and its giant pension deficit for £1 to a dismally unqualified man, with no plan for the pension schemes and no means of financing one, would have evaded or passed any mandatory clearance scheme.
“It will sadly be of no comfort to the 20,000 BHS pensioners facing cuts to their promised pensions, but had just some of these measures been in place, they might never have ended up in that situation.”