Clause 19 - Pension credit members

Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 27 January 2022.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Clauses 20 and 21 stand part.

Government amendments 6 to 12.

Clause 22 stand part.

Government amendment 37.

Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

The amendments in this group deal with various specific scenarios which may apply to members with remediable service. Clause 19 provides that scheme regulations may make provision in relation to a member who has divorced or dissolved a civil partnership, and, where a pension sharing order is in place, to enable their pension to be shared with their former spouse or civil partner. Clause 20 provides for scheme regulations to make provision in relation to additional voluntary contributions paid during a member’s remediable service.

Clause 21 ensures that, where a member transfers their pension rights from one public service pension scheme to another, they still receive a deferred choice in respect of any remediable service that was subject to the transfer. Clause 22 provides that scheme regulations may make further provision about special cases. The provision that may be made under this clause, or under clauses 19, 20 or 21, includes provision corresponding to any provision in chapter 1 of the Bill or applying any provision of this chapter to persons specified in the regulations.

Clause 22(2) sets out a number of areas where provision may be needed in scheme regulations. These include matters such as the benefits payable to members who had tapered protection, which is termed “mixed service” here, and to members who had a right to buy out an actuarial reduction in relation to early payment of benefits in respect of their remediable service in a new scheme. The amendments that I am about to explain add four areas to ensure that schemes have the necessary powers to deal with specific cases in relation to children’s pensions, partnership pension accounts, redundancy and teachers’ excess service.

Amendment 6 delivers the commitment in the Government’s consultation and consultation response. It set out that where a member has died and a child pension is already in payment, which would otherwise be impacted by a decision taken by someone outside the child’s household, that pension will be protected. The amendment confers power to enable provisions to be made in scheme regulations about the benefits payable where a member dies in respect of surviving children who do not live in the same household as a surviving adult. Amendments 10 and 11 provide clarification by defining “adult survivor” and “child” respectively.

Amendment 7 extends the power to make provision about special cases in clause 22 to enable provision to be made in scheme regulations about excess teacher service. These amendments will allow the teachers’ pension scheme to process excess service cases using existing provisions of the Bill, such as clauses 14 to 17, to correct contributions and benefits whether the service is pensionable in the local government pension scheme or not. Amendment 37 defines “teacher”.

Amendment 8 concerns partnership pension accounts. The Bill already provides for members of the civil service who opted to have a partnership pension account to be reinstated to the appropriate legacy scheme where they so wish. However, there may be cases where that is not possible—for example where the member has died. The amendment therefore provides schemes with powers to make provision to take a different approach where needed to provide a remedy in such cases.

Finally, amendment 9 further amends clause 22 to permit scheme regulations to make provision for cases in which a person who has remediable service is made redundant. This will ensure that schemes are able to make provision for a member to make their deferred choice to receive new scheme benefits at the time their employment ends. This approach will be needed in cases where the member’s redundancy payment is calculated by reference to the pension scheme in which they have remediable service, which is the case, for example, in the armed forces. Amendment 12 inserts a definition of “made redundant”. I beg to move.

Photo of Tulip Siddiq Tulip Siddiq Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I understand that clause 22 permits changes to the existing and traditional pension scheme and allows for the deregistering of these schemes for tax purposes so that a lifetime allowance tax charge does not apply on the basis that judges are an exceptional case. In making that exception, is the Minister confident that it will not open the door to legal action from other professionals, such as senior doctors, perhaps, who may argue that they want similar treatment?

Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Yes, I can provide the hon. Lady with that reassurance. There is obviously the question whether what we are putting in place for judges is replicable for other professions, and we are confident it is not. That is due to the unique career path of judges, many of whom leave lengthy careers in the private sector to enter public service at the culmination of their careers, and where there is an expectation that, after having served as a judge, there can be no return to private practice. That is precluded uniquely for judges. Once they have made their decision to go to the bench, they cannot then return to practice. That distinction accounts for their very particular career path and very particular constrained options, which means there is a strong case that judges are a unique group for these purposes and therefore there is not discrimination for other professions.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 19 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 20 and 21 ordered to stand part of the Bill.