Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2002/2003

Date: 12 November 2003

PRESENT: Mr D Watson
Mr M Carrick
Mr J Dallat
Mr J Kelly

IN THE CHAIR: Mr D Watson

APOLOGIES: Mr D McClarty

IN ATTENDANCE: Mr T Evans, Mr E Hobson, Mrs K McCartney, and Mr N Burns

1. Minutes of meeting of 10th June were accepted.

2. MATTERS ARISING

RESPONSE FROM RLAM - INVESTMENT PERFORMANCE

Following the request of the Trustees, RLAM's comments regarding their disappointing Investment return for the period up to March 2002, were forwarded to PWC for comment. At this stage we are awaiting their response.

APPOINTMENT OF SCHEME ADVISERS

At a previous meeting the Trustees discussed the possibility of sharing costs with other legislatures in the setting up of a specialist body responsible for providing advice to members. Mr Hobson informed the Trustees of a request from the Welsh Trustees to meet with them at Parliament Buildings to discuss general pension matters. Mr Hobson confirmed that sharing costs could be discussed at this meeting. The Trustees agreed that this meeting should be arranged for mid - late January 2004.

METHODOLOGY FOR ACTUARIAL VALUATION

The Trustees were informed that the GAD response defending their valuation methodology was forwarded to PWC as instructed although no response has been received to date.

QUARTERLY TRENDS

The Trustees were provided with a valuation statement as at 31 March 2003. On this issue the Trustees requested further information containing quarterly figures in order to establish if there were any visible trends in the Investment Fund.

BANK ACCOUNT OPTIONS

The Trustees agreed that no further action was required on this issue.

AVC GAD DOCUMENT FOR CONSIDERATION

Mr Hobson informed the Trustees that the Assembly Legal Advisers had provided advice confirming that if the Trustees wished to amend the Scheme to allow for the payment of AVC's separately from the main pension payment this could be done under Section 48 of the NI Act 1998, either by the Secretary of State during suspension or by the Assembly following restoration.
Mr Evans felt that due to the minimal impact this would have on the Assembly this could be raised, along with other issues at a later stage when the Assembly is restored.

PENSION SHARING ON DIVORCE

Mr Hobson informed the Trustees that a paper from PWC has been passed to the Assembly Legal Advisers for consideration. A paper based on the response from the Legal Advisers will be brought to a future meeting outlining the implications of the new legislation. 

OUTSOURCING PENSION PAYROLL

Mr Evans reported that since the last meeting he had met with Mr Ralph Garden, Chief Executive of the Scottish Public Pension Agency. He outlined the importance of the role of SPPA for the Scottish Parliament in offering information and expert advice to members. The Trustees agreed to the potential benefits such a body would provide to the NIA.

In connection with this issue Mr Evans also indicated that he had recently held a meeting with representatives from Civil Service Pensions'. The purpose of this meeting was to explore the issue of outsourcing pension payroll and in particular whether CSP would be interested providing a similar service to that offered by SPPA. He reported that at present this would not be possible.

The Trustees agreed that due to the issues of staff turnover and the volatility of the pensions' market the issue of outsourcing should be further explored with SPPA. It was also noted that if such a specialist body were in place there would be less need for a range of different specialist advisors.

TRUSTEE CHECKLIST

The Trustees agreed that there were no further issues to add to the Trustee Checklist at this time.

ADVICE TO MEMBERS

Mr Hobson referred to the issue of the provision of a regular News Letter to members. It was agreed that at present this issue would be placed on a "back burner" until a later date. Mr Hobson also informed the Trustees of the information packs on pensions which have been forwarded to retiring members recently. Mr Evans also stressed to the Trustees that the additional requests for funds would place added pressure on the pension account at this stage.

The Trustees approved the payment of pension benefits in respect of Mr Seamus Mallon and Mr Oliver Gibson. The payment of Mr Gibson's AVCs was also approved. It was noted that Mr Patrick Roche and Mr Duncan Shipley-Dalton were entitled to a deferred pension award payable at age 65.

3. INVESTMENT/ FUND MANAGER CONTRACT

Mr Evans informed the Trustees that the current contract is due for renewal on 15 March 2004.

Prior to this the Trustees need to give consideration to developing a revised Statement of Investment Principles. Mr Evans stated that it would be useful to see profiles of Members following the election, before revisiting the Statement of Investment Principles. Mr Hobson suggested that he would liase with John Gibson in relation to the possibility of extending this contract by a period of one month due to the proximity of the elections Mr Carrick raised the issue of benchmarking with organisations operating within similar environments. Mr Evans stated that he hoped to meet with Archie Cameron in the first week of December and confirmed that he would also arrange to liaise with the other legislatures.

4. AMALGAMATION OF 3 PENSION SCHEMES

Based on legal advice, which has been provided by the Assembly Legal Advisers Mr Evans confirmed that section 48 of the Northern Ireland Act (1998) applies only to the current scheme and not to the other 2 schemes. He feels that if the amalgamation were to proceed it would need to be raised in Westminster by the Secretary of State. Mr Evans agreed to raise the issue with OFMDFM. 

5. INCREASE IN EMPLOYER'S CONTRIBUTION

Legal advice was provided by the Assembly Legal Advisers on the steps that need to be taken to implement the increase in employer's pension contributions following GAD's recommendation. Mr Evans outlined the advice received confirming that a Budget Order would have to be made. Mr Evans agreed to discuss with Ms Hamill, Head of Finance, who would then alert the Secretary of State. The Trustees formally agreed to proceed with GADs recommendation to increase the employer's pension contributions.

6. SWISS LIFE RENEWAL

The Trustees agreed to renew the existing policy which was due for renewal on 22 October 2003.

7. AMPS ANNUAL ACCOUNTS AND ANNUAL REPORT 
The Trustees agreed that the figures contained in the report were not favourable. Mr Evans outlined that a contributing factor to the reduction in income for the period was that member's salaries were reduced to 75% and 50% respectively for a time throughout the year and therefore pension contributions were reduced. The Trustees agreed to sign off the Annual Report and Annual Accounts when the final version is returned from the NI Audit Office.

8. ANY OTHER BUSINESS

TRUSTEES MEMBERSHIP

It was noted that two of the Trustees have opted not to stand for election.

In accordance with Scheme Rules, PART B; B2 (2) the issue was raised whereby a person will cease to hold office on the expiry of six months from the date on which he ceases to be a member of the Assembly.

Mr Evans pointed out that the current Trustees had been invited to remain as Trustees, during suspension, by the Secretary of State. Mr Evans suggested that the Secretary of State may well ask Mr Carrick and Mr Kelly to remain Trustees beyond 4 May 2004 for continuity and good practice. Mr Evans agreed to investigate further.

9. DATE OF NEXT MEETING

It was agreed that the next meeting should be held in mid December.

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