12th Law Debenture Debate

11 May 2017

On 8th May, a full house of trustees and advisers debated the motion that “Section 67 should be repealed so that retrospective changes to pensions are possible”. This was proposed by Kevin Wesbroom (from Aon Hewitt) and Sarah Swift (from Eversheds Sutherland). It was opposed by Paul Newman QC (of Wilberforce Chambers) and Graham McLean (from Willis Towers Watson). Sir Steve Webb chaired the Debate.

The arguments and the result

The House divided with 45% in favour of repealing section 67, and 55% for leaving it on the statute book. On one hand, the speakers explored whether section 67 was guilty of bringing about the closure or failure of pension schemes. On the other, they explored whether section 67 was a valuable protection for members’ benefits which might otherwise be agreed away, and the extent of its existing (if underused) flexibilities.

The final result was almost identical to an initial vote taken at the outset. But, 20% of the audience had changed sides. So, whilst the result was the same, the audience left in different parties and even better informed than at the start of the evening!

As one would expect in a debate, the views expressed were not necessarily those of the speakers, or of the organisations they work with.


The evening started with a “warming up” vote. This asked, now that Article 50 has been triggered, which emotion best described how the audience felt. 37% expressed themselves as disappointed, 36% as resigned, with 18% pleased and 9% ambivalent.

Our next Debate

The motion for next year’s Debate will be drawn from suggestions made by the audience.

For further information, or for any comments or suggestions, please do contact Mark Ashworth via email mark.ashworth@lawdeb.com or by telephone 07765 556640.

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