Northern Ireland Assembly
Adrian McQuillan (DUP)
I support the Second Stage of the Bill. The Bill will ensure parity with the rest of the United Kingdom after the passing of the Superannuation Act 2010, which removed the requirement of the Superannuation Act 1972 for trade union consent on detrimental changes to the compensation scheme for the Home Civil Service in Great Britain.
The Department of Finance and Personnel has authority under the provisions of the Superannuation (Northern Ireland) Order 1972 to make, maintain and amend pensions and compensation schemes for the Northern Ireland civil servants and other employments listed at schedule 1 to the Superannuation (Northern Ireland) Order 1972.
The Bill removes the requirement that exists under the Superannuation Order 1972, whereby the Department of Finance and Personnel must secure the consent of trade unions to introduce detrimental changes to the Civil Service compensation scheme. Those provisions are contained in clause 1 of the Bill.
The Bill also introduces new requirements, contained in clause 2, for the Department of Finance and Personnel to report on the consultation it has engaged in with the trade unions, with the aim of reaching agreement on detrimental changes. Under the new requirement, the Department must lay a report before the Assembly describing the consultation process it has undertaken on the proposed changes that would have the effect of reducing the level of compensation payable to civil servants on redundancy. That is something that I feel is fair and more transparent, as the Department, in its consultations, will be held to account by the Assembly directly.
Recently, in the Chancellor’s Budget, the idea of regional pay rates for employees of the Northern Ireland Civil Service was floated. The Finance Minister is on record as opposing such a scheme, which would not only harm employees of the Northern Ireland Civil Service and its associated agencies but would result in unequal pay scales being introduced across the United Kingdom. In my opinion, that is not in line with the principles of fairness and equality.
For that reason and for ensuring equality, I support the Bill, which would see employees here treated no differently from employees anywhere else in the United Kingdom. If the Assembly retained the Superannuation Order 1972, we would only see additional superannuation costs having to be met by this House, meaning that the Executive would have to take money from somewhere else in order to pay for it. That is something that I cannot support. Members are, therefore, duty bound to ensure parity with the rest of the United Kingdom, as the Northern Ireland Civil Service is essentially Northern Ireland’s biggest employer, and, by doing so, to protect Departments from being hit with the large compensation payouts that would result from the retention of the current consultation exercise. Therefore, I support the Second Stage of the Bill.