§ 11.26 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Roland Moyle)
I beg to move,That the Pensions (Increase) (Northern Ireland) Order 1974 (S.I., 1974, No. 1267), a copy of which was laid before this House on 31st July 1974 in the last Parliament, be approved.With your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall not go into great detail on this order except to say that its purpose it to ensure that public servants in Northern Ireland who retired during stages 1 and 2 of the previous Government's prices and incomes policy do not have their pensions permanently curtailed as a result of retiring during that period of stringent incomes control. The order is in line with similar orders passed for the rest of the United Kingdom.
The order was originally tabled when we were the Opposition and the present Opposition were the Government. We agreed with the order at that time, and I understand that the present Opposition agree with it now. I hope, therefore, that the order will receive a favourable wind and will help to relieve some of the stress and financial stringency of people retired from the Northern Ireland public service.
In addition, the order raises the age limit for increases in children's pensions under the 1971 Act from age 16 to age 17 and removes the age restriction for the payment of increases to widows without dependent children.
The cost is estimated at £100,000 in the first year, of which about £90,000 will fall on the Northern Ireland Consolidated Fund and £10,000 on local government revenue. Subsequent annual costs will decrease as the number of pensioners affected is reduced.
§ 11.29 p.m.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)
We on this side of the House welcome the order. I understand that its purpose is to rubber-stamp legislation already passed by the House.
There is just one matter on which the Minister can perhaps help us. Article 4(3) states:Regulations may provide that, in relation to any pensions specified in the regulations 1059 functions of the pension authority under this Order shall be performed on behalf of the pension authority by such other authority as is so specified.
§ Mr. Moyle
If no one else wishes to speak, I shall reply very briefly to the debate. The answer to the hon. Gentleman's query has just arrived, by some remarkable circumstances, as I rose to speak.
Article 4(3) is a general provision comparable to Section 2(4) of the Pensions (Increase) Act 1974, which is our corresponding Westminster legislation. In Northern Ireland the local authorities' staff—for example, the head of Bangor District Council—receive their pension benefits from the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers' Superannuation Committee, and Article 4(3) would give approval to this arrangement in relation to the particular increases dealt with in this order.
I trust that that information satisfies the hon. Gentleman.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That the Pensions (Increase) (Northern Ireland) Order 1974 (S.I., 1974, No. 1267), a copy of which was laid before this House on 31st July 1974 in the last Parliament, be approved.