Clause 6 - Immediate choice to receive new scheme benefits

Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:00 pm ar 27 Ionawr 2022.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

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

Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Llafur, Ealing, Southall

With this, it will be convenient to discuss clauses 7 to 9 stand part.

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

Clause 6 provides that scheme regulations must make provision for pensioner members and beneficiaries of deceased members to make an immediate choice: whether to elect to receive new scheme benefits in relation to the member’s remediable service, or to receive the default of legacy scheme benefits instead.

Clause 7 provides that an election under clause 6 must be made within one year of the member—or, if the member is deceased, their personal representatives—being provided with details about the benefits available to them in relation to their remediable service, or such longer time as the scheme manager considers appropriate.

Clause 8 provides power for scheme regulations to make provision about situations where a member or their beneficiary fail to communicate to the scheme whether they wish to receive legacy or new scheme benefits in relation to remediable service.

Clause 9 provides that where a person has remediable service in an employment or office that is pensionable under more than one legacy scheme, an election under clause 6 applies in all of those schemes.

Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Chief Secretary)

Again, I have a question that I put on Second Reading that was not truly answered then.

In the background papers for the Bill, the Government suggested that clause 6(7) would apply to a fairly small number of people—I think that was how they described them. These are the people who would have a better deal if they were able to mix and match some provisions from one scheme and some from another, and they are now being told that they can opt for entirely one scheme or the other.

I understand the Government’s position, which is that these are people who have been given a benefit that they would not have had if there had not been unlawful discrimination, so they can have no reasonable objection if it is taken away. I suspect that the people who will lose that benefit will take a different view.

However, my real question was this: how many people are potentially affected? The information I have seen—this is the figure I quoted on Second Reading—is that we could be looking at somewhere up to 245,000 people. That is a small percentage of the total number of pensioners affected by this legislation, but a quarter of a million people cannot be described as a small number. Will the Minister confirm how many people he expects to be affected particularly by the restriction in clause 6(7)?

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

I can commit to write to the hon. Member with our best estimate, although it may be that my officials can provide me with such an estimate. In that case, I will relay it to him in a later answer as we make progress on the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 6 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 7 to 9 ordered to stand part of the Bill.