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The Superannuation Bill, which will impose caps on compensation payments and permit the reform of the civil service compensation scheme, is proceeding through the other place. I remain confident of being able to introduce a new scheme before the House rises.
I thank the Minister for that reply. More than 30% of the work force in my constituency are employed by the public sector, given the heavy proportion of Army personnel and Ministry of Defence civil servants there. Many of the MOD civil servants are members of the Public and Commercial Services union. Has it come to the table and joined the negotiations, or does it still stand alone?
Sadly, despite repeated invitations, the PCS has not come forward with concrete proposals. The other five unions engaged constructively and their proposals formed the basis for the new scheme that we have developed. I am sorry that the PCS, which represents so many civil servants, particularly lower-paid civil servants, has not chosen to take part in a constructive spirit.
That has been our principal concern in fashioning a new scheme. Civil servants' average pay is lower than that in the private sector and the wider public sector, and it is right that they should be at the forefront of our concerns. The scheme that we have developed, in negotiation and consultation with five of the six unions, gives particular protection for them by deeming that the salary on which their compensation calculation is based is £23,000, so anyone paid less than that will have their compensation calculated on that basis.