Official Report (Hansard)
Date: Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Committee for Finance and Personnel
Superannuation Bill: Clause-by-clause Scrutiny
The Chairperson: We come to our formal clause-by-clause scrutiny of the Superannuation Bill. I will ask the Committee Clerk to go through the options for us.
Clause 1 (Consents required for civil service compensation scheme modifications)
The Committee Clerk: I will just recap for members: clause 1 removes the requirement in article 4 of the Superannuation (NI) Order 1972 to obtain the consent of the Civil Service trades unions for reductions in benefits provided under the Civil Service compensation scheme. Members will be aware that it has been referred to as the trade union veto. In their evidence to the Committee, the unions raised concerns about the proposed removal, and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission advised the Committee that removing the trade union veto may risk regression in the protection of a number of human rights. The Department disputed that, and maintained that the removal of the veto is necessary to maintain parity with GB; the Department gave an assurance that it will undertake effective consultation. No amendments to clause 1 have been considered by the Committee. Therefore the question is whether the Committee is content with clause 1.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Consultation in relation to civil service compensation scheme modifications)
The Committee Clerk: Two of the amendments discussed in the previous session, which we titled A and C, affect clause 2 directly; amendment B, which concerns Assembly control, is also relevant to our scrutiny of clause 2. Without going back over issues that we discussed in the previous session, members need to decide formally which, if any, of the following amendments the Committee wishes to propose. Any amendments that the Committee agrees will go into the Committee's report to the Assembly as amendments to be tabled at Consideration Stage.
Amendment No 1 is the "Duty to Negotiate". If I read the Committee right, there seemed to be consensus in opposing the amendment.
Members indicated assent.
Clause 2 agreed to.
The Committee Clerk: Amendment No 2 is "Strengthening the Reporting Duty". Amendment No 2 could be made in addition to amendment No 3 concerning Assembly control.
The Chairperson: Since the consensus seems to be that amendment No 3 has some support, perhaps we should take it first.
The Committee Clerk: The question is whether the Committee is content to propose amendment No 3, which will insert a new clause 3 into the Bill, to the Assembly. If members agree to amendment No 3, the question is whether it should be subject to negative or affirmative resolution.
The Chairperson: Do members agree that amendment No 3 — that new clause 3 be inserted into the Bill subject to negative resolution — be made?
Question put, That the amendment be made.
The Committee divided:
Ayes 7; Noes 3.
Mr Beggs, Mr Cree, Mr D Bradley, Mr McKay, Mr Mitchel McLaughlin, Mrs Cochrane, Ms Fearon.
Mr Girvan, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey.
Question accordingly agreed to.
The Committee Clerk: The question is whether the Committee is content with amendment No 2, "Strengthening the Reporting Duty".
The Chairperson: I was picking up, given that amendment No 3 has been agreed, that there is no need for amendment No 2.
Members indicated assent.
Clause 3 (Interpretation)
The Committee Clerk: There were no issues raised in the evidence sessions on clause 3. Is the Committee content with the clause?
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Short title and commencement)
The Committee Clerk: No issues were raised in the evidence sessions, so the question is whether the Committee is content with clause 4.
Clause 4 agreed to.
The Committee Clerk: The long title of the Bill is: A Bill to make provision for and in connection with limiting the value of the benefits which may be provided under so much of any scheme under Article 3 of the Superannuation (Northern Ireland) Order 1972 as provides by virtue of Article 4(2) of that Order for benefits to be provided by way of compensation to or in respect of persons who suffer loss of office or employment; and to make provision about the procedure for modifying such a scheme.
Long title agreed to.
The Committee Clerk: An initial draft of the Committee's report will be prepared for next week's meeting, summarising the evidence and reflecting the decisions taken today. There will be a final draft for consideration at the meeting on 26 September in time for the Committee to agree the report to the Assembly before the Committee Stage expires on 28 September. Consideration Stage is expected to take place in the week commencing 22 October, in advance of which any agreed Committee amendments will be required to be tabled. The Bill Office will be able to advise whether any consequential amendments need to be made.
The Chairperson: That concludes our clause-by-clause scrutiny of the Bill.
Mr Girvan: Before we move on, Chairman, was there not a major discussion last week on what was deemed the period for consultation? Did we agree to remove the word "minimum"?
The Committee Clerk: The member had just left the meeting when it was agreed that that amendment would no longer be considered.
Mr Girvan: Ok; that is fine.