New Clause 14 - Compensation of losses incurred by closure of legacy schemes

Part of Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:30 pm ar 27 Ionawr 2022.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke The Chief Secretary to the Treasury 2:30, 27 Ionawr 2022

I thank the hon. Gentleman for the spirit in which he asks his question. We always want to discuss these issues as fully as possible with a view to finding viable options where they exist. As I said, the Home Office has consulted on detailed regulations to implement the prospective McCloud remedy for the police pension scheme, and it will bring forward the outcome of that consultation in due course.

The Government must not take action that inadvertently creates a new form of the very discrimination that this legislation is designed to address. The Government must also safeguard the purpose of the reforms proposed by Lord Hutton and ensure that public service pension schemes are put on a sustainable fiscal footing. As the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission put it,

“Allowing current members to continue to accrue further benefits in the present schemes for many decades would be unfair and inequitable to the new members coming behind them.”

The reformed public service pension schemes remain among the most generous schemes available in the United Kingdom. Based on the Office for National Statistics’ most recent assessment, 6.3 million public sector workers participate in these valuable schemes, while only 0.7 million workers in the private sector have access to defined-benefit schemes that are open to new members.

I am concerned that the new clause ultimately seeks to oblige the Chancellor to devise measures that would contradict these crucial aims of the prospective McCloud remedy. Compensating members with remediable service for the difference in pension age between their legacy and reformed schemes would, effectively, leave a protected class of public service pension scheme members beyond 31 March 2022, which could perpetuate the discrimination identified by the courts, or give rise to new discrimination. It would also severely weaken the efficacy of the prospective remedy for many years to come, at very considerable cost to the taxpayer.

To summarise, I genuinely thank the hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn for bringing attention to this issue, and reassure her that the Government have been considering the position of these members. However, careful consideration must be given to the need to avoid perpetuating the discrimination identified by the courts, or introducing new discrimination against other pension scheme members, or inadvertently undoing much of the policy aims of this Bill, and this new clause asks the Chancellor to propose a means of doing just that. I therefore, respectfully, ask the hon. Lady to withdraw the new clause.