All 1 Debates between Baroness D'Souza and Lord Newby

Public Service Pensions Bill

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Lord Newby
Tuesday 26th February 2013

(11 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Newby Portrait Lord Newby
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My Lords, on Report, I asked the noble Lords, Lord Whitty and Lord Eatwell, to withdraw their amendments on the revaluation order because of my intention to return with an amendment of my own. I said that I would consider the parliamentary procedure for the revaluation order where it specifies a negative figure, and the amendments that I have tabled, albeit at the last minute, are in line with that commitment.

As I have made clear on several occasions before, it would be wrong to rule out revaluations that set out negative figures on the very rare occasions where either the CPI or earnings were in negative territory. This would be unfair to the taxpayer and represent an asymmetric sharing of risk, which was specifically referenced by the noble Lord, Lord Hutton, in his report.

The amendments that I have brought forward do not affect the ability to track growth directly. I do not wish to rehearse at length the strong arguments I have deployed in the past. However, these amendments increase the level of parliamentary scrutiny in the highly unlikely event that we see negative growth. Where the Treasury order sets a negative figure, which I remind the House it can determine only on reasonable and justifiable terms by reference to the general level of prices or earnings, the order will be subject to the affirmative procedure. This will ensure that Parliament has an opportunity to debate the measure. Given the uniqueness of a situation in which the revaluation of benefits could lead to a decrease in entitlement, the Government believe that this is an appropriate and sensible additional safeguard of members’ interests.

However, I should point out that the vast majority of the revaluations will involve run of the mill legislation that simply sets out the relevant increases in line with announced government policy. For example, if the new schemes are already in place, the order for this year would simply set out the positive change in prices in line with the CPI and the positive change in earnings in line with the average weekly earnings measure. Both of these have been in the public domain for quite some time.

When we are not experiencing something extraordinarily unusual such as negative growth, it would go too far to provide for the affirmative procedure for every order as provided for in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Eatwell. Therefore, I hope that the noble Lord will understand why I am not able to accept his amendment. The Government’s amendments strike the appropriate balance between parliamentary scrutiny and sensible regulation-making. I hope they will provide some comfort and that noble Lords will be able to support them. I beg to move.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait The Lord Speaker (Baroness D'Souza)
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I should advise your Lordships that if this amendment is agreed to I cannot call Amendment 3 for reason of pre-emption.