Parliament's BHS inquiries: Everything you need to know

Mark Sands
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Two parliamentary committees are probing the collapse of BHS (Source: Getty)

Two parliamentary committees will come together for a second time next week as part of an ongoing investigation into the collapse of BHS.

The Work and Pensions select committee and the Business Innovation and Skills select committee held a joint hearing last week, grilling the chief executives of the Pension Protection Fund and The Pensions Regulator over the retailer's £571m pensions deficit.

The MPs have now revealed a slate of meetings for further investigation.

What are the sessions about?

An initial session last week focused on the BHS pension blackhole - concerns about which had been raised as far back as 2012 - and questioned whether pension regulation is adequate.

In addition, they looked at the impact of such a large liability on the lifeboat Pension Protection Fund and all the other companies that subscribe to it.

Further sessions will likely expand on these themes, taking in the advice given to the BHS pension scheme, as well as the role of its trustees, and the management of both BHS and its purchaser Retail Acquisitions.

MPs will want to know if money was taken out of the retailer, the impact on the BHS pension fund, where that money went and how the pension fund was discussed in Retail Acquisitions' £1 BHS takeover.

BIS Committee chair Iain Wright MP said:

“In these sessions, we will want to explore how Retail Acquisitions (RAL) was considered to be a suitable buyer for BHS, an apparently struggling high street store which was saddled with a large pension deficit.

We will want to untangle the nature of the advice, both formal and informal, which was provided to Arcadia and RAL as part of the sale process. We will want to probe the role of directors in this sale and to examine whether the existing regulatory regime is fit for purpose.”

When will hearings take place?

Two sessions are scheduled for next week, on Monday and Wednesday (23 and 24 May). Further sessions are set for 8 June and 15 June.

Who will attend?

Advisers to the BHS pension scheme are scheduled to appear during next week's first session, while pension trustees will attend on Wednesday.

BHS' management, the board of Retail Acquisitions Limited and is largest shareholder Dominic Chappell will attend on 8 June, while Green, himself, will sit before MPs on 15 June.

What will happen next?

Although MPs from the two committees are taking evidence jointly, they are running separate enquiries.

Green is currently the final witness scheduled, although more may be introduced as evidence is taken.

Following the final session, MPs will decide whether to publish a report, and whether it will take the form of a single, joint, document from both committees or separate papers, more focused on the issues relevant to their remits.

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