Clause 43 - Extent

Pension Schemes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 30th October 2014.

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Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions 2:30 pm, 30th October 2014

I beg to move amendment 2, in clause 43, page 17, line 5, at end insert—

‘( ) Section (Extension to Scotland of certain provisions about the marriage of same sex couples) extends to Scotland only.”

The effect of this amendment is that the new clause inserted by amendment NC1 extends to Scotland only.

Photo of Linda Riordan Linda Riordan Labour, Halifax

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government new clause 1—Extension to Scotland of certain provisions about marriage of same sex couples .

Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

We have a slightly surprising detour at this point. This is normally the bit that indicates whether a Bill relates to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and how it all works. We have used this opportunity to table an amendment and new clause that will tidy up an issue relating to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 as it affects Scotland. New clause 1 will extend to Scotland certain provisions in the Pension Schemes Act 1993 that were inserted by the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, and amendment 2 will limit the extent of new clause 1 to Scotland.

I probably need to do a bit of explaining. The amendment extends a regulation-making power to cover Scotland so that, as is usual, regulations can be made that extend to England and Wales and Scotland. A consequential amendment is being made to clause 43 so that new clause 1 extends only to Scotland. Section 38A was inserted into the Pension Schemes Act 1993 by the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, which was led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. We need to extend that section to Scotland, as it currently applies only to England and Wales.

Section 38A gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations in relation to the administration of survivor benefits in a relevant legal change of gender case. That is a small legislative change to ensure that the powers to make regulations apply to Scotland so that, as usual, legislation can be made to apply to England, Wales and Scotland. As the regulation of occupational pensions is a reserved matter, we need to legislate for Scotland. I can go into more detail if the Committee wishes, but we are essentially trying to ensure that England, Wales and Scotland are in step with each other when it comes to some of the consequential pensions issues arising from the 2013 Act, particularly on the issue of transgender individuals in couples.

Photo of Gregg McClymont Gregg McClymont Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

We have heard much recently from Government Members about English votes for English laws. Is this an example where the only person on the Committee who should be allowed to air his opinion is myself? If that be the case, I would certainly be keen to push the matter to a vote. Perhaps the Minister can enlighten me.

Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his contribution. My point was that these matters are reserved to Westminster, as most pensions policy is. I like to think that we are all equal on this Committee.

Amendment 2 agreed to.

Clause 43, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.