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MPs plan to quiz Green over BHS

BBC News BBC News 27/04/2016
Philip Green © Getty Images Philip Green

Former BHS owner Sir Philip Green is expected to be called to appear before MPs to face questions over the collapse of the retailer into administration.

BHS store © Getty Images BHS store

Work and pensions committee chair Frank Field told news agencies that he was sure Sir Philip "will be invited".

Sir Philip owned BHS, which went into administration on Monday, for 15 years until selling it for £1 in 2015.

The committee will investigate how the collapse of BHS will affect the Pension Protection Fund.

The Pensions Protection Fund is funded by a compulsory levy on companies who have defined benefit pensions. It is there to provide compensation for pensioners when companies go bust.

The BHS pension scheme has a deficit of £571m and Sir Philip has offered to make an £80m voluntary contribution.

Separately, the Pensions Regulator will investigate whether BHS's former owners sought to avoid their obligations.

BHS, which employs about 11,000 people, will continue trading while the administrators seek a buyer for the business.

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Mr Field said: "We need as a committee to look at the Pension Protection Fund and how the receipt of pension liabilities of BHS will impact on the increases in the levy that will now be placed on all other eligible employers to finance the scheme.

"We will then need to judge whether the law is strong enough to protect future pensioners' contracts in occupational schemes."

The administration means members of the pension scheme who are yet to retire will be paid a less generous pension.

John Mann, a Labour member of the Treasury select committee, called on Sir Philip to repay £400m of dividends that he took out of BHS.

"Sir Philip Green and his family have made millions out of BHS and its hardworking staff. He took over a company with a healthy pension pot, yet when he sold BHS a black hole had appeared in its fund," he said.

"There is a very simple and honourable solution to this crisis: repay the dividends, live up to the name he has chosen for his new yacht, 'Lionheart', or lose his knighthood."

Conservative MP Richard Fuller has called on Sir Philip to clarify his involvement in the chain's demise. "Green and Arcadia need to put out a statement immediately clarifying their position. He has a responsibility, a duty," he said.

"Arcadia should be made to make public the documents and correspondence between themselves and Retail Acquisitions so that we can ascertain if the correct due diligence was undertaken in terms of there being enough cash left in the business and to cover the pension liability. If it's found that the correct due diligence was not undertaken, then Sir Philip will face serious consequences."

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