The committee set up to consider legislative changes to Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) pensions has today called for those affected by the scheme, others with an involvement or interest in pensions generally, and the general public to give their views on the way forward.
During the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, arrangements were made through a Transitional Order for MSPs and office holders’ pensions, mirroring those at Westminster.
By its nature, this piece of legislation was intended for replacement.
As such, the Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme Committee was established by Parliament this year to “inquire into and report with recommendations for a committee bill on a replacement for the Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme rules.”
The committee is also considering the Grants to Members and Officeholders Order, including ill-health retirement payments.
Committee convener Alasdair Morgan MSP said:
"Our overriding aim is to provide a modern equality-proofed range of benefits both now and in the future. The scheme must strike an equitable and proportionate balance between the level of benefits provided and the actual cost of their provision to Members and the public purse.
"Once we have received and considered the views on our consultation document, we intend to invite some witnesses to provide us with oral evidence. We hope to do this in February and March 2008.”
To assist in gathering views the committee gave preliminary consideration to the existing scheme rules, current legislation affecting pensions and changes made to the Westminster pension scheme.
This resulted in a consultation document highlighting some of the areas requiring consideration by the committee.
Comments on this consultation document are invited from those affected by the scheme, others with an involvement or interest in pensions generally and the general public.
The consultation paper and a response form are published on the SPPS Committee’s website.
View the consultation paper and call for evidence.
A report to the Parliament is anticipated by the end of June 2008. That report will have to be debated and approved by Parliament before a Committee Bill to replace the existing scheme rules can be developed.
- Transitional Order: The order which in 1999 set out the current pension scheme rules: The Scotland Act 1998 (Transitory and Transitional Provisions) (Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme) Order (SI 1999/1082).
- Grants to Members and Officeholders Order: The order which in 1999 set out the rules on resettlement, ill-health and severance grants for MSPs and officeholders: The Scotland Act 1998 (Transitory and Transitional Provisions) (Grants to Members and Officeholders) Order 1999 (SI 1999/1081)
Since 1999 there have been a number of significant legislative changes at a UK level that have affected all occupational pension schemes. The most important of these are the Finance Act 2004 and the Pensions Act 2004, though equalities legislation has also developed quite rapidly.
As a result it has become necessary to amend the original MSP scheme rules, with the legal deadline to make many of the required changes being April 2011.
Many other organisations have already adjusted their schemes. MSPs pension changes require legislation – and it is this process that is currently under way.
The Committee responsible for proposing the legislative changes is the Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme Committee, which has met twice. The first meeting was on 18 September and all the Committee papers are published on the website.