LawDeb Pensions Debate 2013

03 May 2013

The Law Debenture Pension Trustees Debate - 2013



At Law Debenture’s 2013 debate, senior pension professionals indicated that they believe that pension funds should not be used to stimulate economic growth.

The votes of the invited audience of pension professionals at Law Debenture’s annual debate were counted before the debate got underway – and then again at the end.  Two hours of lively discussion failed to sway the audience in its view that pension funds should not be a vehicle for stimulating economic growth.  In fact, having listened to the debate, this view hardened.

At the outset, a secret vote was taken on the motion that ‘This house believes that pension funds should be a vehicle for stimulating economic growth’.  Voting again after the debate concluded showed that the vote of 59% against the motion at the outset had increased to 63%.

Chaired by Michael Portillo, the motion was supported by Mark Gregory, Jane Curtis and Nigel Moore and opposed by Laura Brown, Richard Abramson and Carol Young.  

When welcoming guests, Sue Timbrell, a director of LawDeb Pension Trustees, stressed that the arguments put forward by the speakers did not necessarily represent their personal views or those of their firms  but were expressions of the cases for and against the motion.

In support of the motion, it was argued that it was illogical not to invest in ways that produced economic benefits and that these benefits would in turn benefit the members of pension funds by providing greater growth, returns on investment and jobs.  It was argued that the virtuous circle this created should not be ignored.

Those opposing the motion interpreted it as a call for all pension funds to act collectively and insisted that investment decisions had to be taken individually in the specific interests of individual scheme members.  So whilst some decisions would have the additional benefit of stimulating economic growth, schemes should not have economic growth as an investment objective.

In his concluding remarks Mark Ashworth, Chair of LawDeb Pension Trustees, thanked Michael Portillo for chairing the debate for the third year and commented that his personality, perception and panache contributed significantly to the event and helped reinforce Law Debenture’s reputation for expertise and professionalism.  Mark also thanked the panellists and audience for making the debate such a stimulating event and said the evening had confirmed Law Debenture’s debate as an annual must attend fixture in the pensions’ calendar.  The number and calibre of the guests had, as usual, contributed to the debate with insightful and thoughtful comments.

An aside

In a test at the outset to confirm the electronic voting system worked, the audience indicated that they thought the royal baby expected in July would be a princess (65:35) and that Richard III should be re-interred at York Minster rather than Leicester Cathedral (55:45)


For further information about LawDeb Pension Trustees, please follow this link.

To view a selection of photos from the debate, please click on the links below:

The Rt Hon Michael Portillo – debate chairman

Sue Timbrell – Director, LawDeb Pension Trustees, who introduced the debate

Mark Ashworth – Chair, LawDeb Pension Trustees, who hosted the debate

The speakers

The audience






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