This simply is not so:
Sir Philip Green may have to pay £1bn to resolve the problems facing the BHS pension scheme under proposals tabled by MPs.
We do not, as a general rule, bring in retroactive law. Meaning that whatever changes are made to pensions systems will apply to things which are done in the future, not to things which have already happened.
What has rather surprised us about these suggestions from Frank Field's committee - the Guardian being wrong does not of course - is what no one has as yet noted. That this will entirely kill off what remains of defined benefit pensions schemes.
The work and pensions committee, which is chaired by Labour MP Frank Field, has called for the government to introduce a “nuclear deterrent” to stop companies or individuals trying to avoid their responsibilities to pension schemes.
This deterrent would be a fine from The Pensions Regulator (TPR) worth three times the amount it believes a company or individual should contribute towards filling the deficit in a pension scheme. Given that the regulator is understood to be seeking £350m from Green for the BHS pensions scheme, this means it could threaten the billionaire tycoon with a charge of about £1bn.
Added to this:
As well as threatening punitive fines, the MPs said TPR must become a “nimbler, more proactive regulator”. They said the regulator must consider recovery plans for pension schemes in deficit that last more than 10 years as “exceptional” and that it should approve every major corporate transaction.
If you've a defined benefit pensions scheme then every corporate transaction must be approved by the pensions regulator. Said pensions regulator would rapidly become the de facto economic planner. Except, of course, that everyone will simply stop having defined benefit pensions schemes.