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I beg to move
I introduced the Police Pensions (Consequential Provisions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 in February, following a request by the Department of Finance and Personnel, further to that by HM Treasury, to amend the Public Service Pensions Act (Northern Ireland) 2014. However, during the drafting of that legislation, the Department of Finance and Personnel asked for the removal of a clause relating to the protection of increases in guaranteed minimum pensions after the abolition of contracting out, as the abolition of contracting out had yet to be provided for in the Northern Ireland legislation. Schedule 13 to the Pensions Act (Northern Ireland) 2015, introduced in June 2015, now makes provision for the abolition of contracting out by way of amendment to the Pension Schemes (Northern Ireland) Act 1993.
The Pensions Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 modifies the definition of "cessation date" and specifically introduces a date of 6 April 2016 for the abolition of contracting out for salary-related schemes. The changes are technical in nature to ensure the protection of guaranteed minimum pension benefits for members who have transferred from the 1988 or 2006 police pension scheme into the 2015 police pension scheme. The draft consequential provisions regulations before the House today have been the subject of a targeted consultation. The consultation ran from 2 October to 6 November and no specific comments were received. The regulations have been subject to an equality screening exercise and no equality issues were identified.
On 3 December last year, the Justice Committee agreed that it was content with the draft regulations, and it is with its support that I bring the draft regulations before the House today. I commend the draft regulations to the House.
I will speak very briefly on the motion today on behalf of the Committee. As the Minister has already outlined, the statutory rule makes a technical amendment to existing rules for police pensions contained within the Public Service Pensions Act (Northern Ireland) 2014, following the introduction of the Pensions Act (Northern Ireland) 2015. In line with other public pension schemes, the amendment is required to introduce the protection of increases in guaranteed minimum pensions following the abolition of contracting out.
In December, the Committee noted the detail of the proposed changes and considered the statutory rule itself more recently at the meeting on 7 January 2015. The Committee noted that the policy intention of the rule relates to the protection of guaranteed minimum pension benefit for police officers who transfer from the old to the new pension schemes. At our meeting on 7 January 2015, the Committee agreed to recommend that the statutory rule be affirmed by the Assembly and therefore supports the motion today.
I am beginning to think that I should perhaps tell Lord Morrow that it is possible for a honeymoon to last longer than the first half hour. As usual, when we deal with these technical matters, I thank the Chair for his input. In particular, the Committee gives detailed consideration to some of those quite arcane and technical points at times. In thanking the Committee and the Chair for their input, I again state that I am complying with the requirements of DFP to ensure that we have the appropriate arrangements to deal with the new Public Service Pensions Act. On that basis, I again commend the regulations to the House.
Question put and agreed to. Resolved: