HL Deb 01 December 1966 vol 278 cc804-6

My Lords, I beg to move that the National Health Service (Superannuation) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations1966, a draft of which was laid before this House on November 8, be approved. May I suggest to your Lordships that it might also be convenient to discuss at the same time the similar Regulations for England and Wales which, with one exception, introduce the same provisions as the Scottion Regulations? The one exception is a relatively minor provision in the English Regulations which is not required in the Scottish Regulations.

The Regulations amend the principal Regulations of 1961 and revoke the 1962 amending Regulations. The main changes are given in the explanatory note on page 41, but, like all superannuation regulations, they are complex and I hope it will be acceptable to your Lordships if I outline the more important of the pro visions. These Regulations follow the valuation at March, 1962, by the Government Actuary of the superannuation scheme in England and Wales which disclosed a surplus. The report on the Scottish scheme has not yet been received but we have been assured by the Government Actuary that it will not differ materially from that for England and Wales. A direct result of the report is that it has been possible in Regulation 30 to discontinue the employers' supplementary contribution of 1½ per cent. which was introduced in 1962 to meet, in part, a deficit in the scheme at March, 1955, when the scheme was previously valued by the Government Actuary.

A number of the Regulations improve the benefits payable to doctors and dentists in general practice. As the remuneration of a general dental or medical practitioner drops in his later years of service his pension has been calculated as a flat-rate percentage of his total remuneration during service and not, as for officers in the health service, in relation to his final salary. We have now agreed with the professions, who have represented that pensions of practitioners are low compared with officers, the new formula in Regulation 8. The percentage of earnings used to calculate the pension will now increase as service increases, that is 1½ per cent. of earnings in their first ten years, 1¾ per cent. in the next ten years, 2 per cent. in the third ten years, 2¼ per cent. in the fourth ten years and 2½ per cent. for any years beyond the fortieth. Regulations 4to 12 make similar adjustments to other benefits to practitioners.

A further provision relating to practitioners is at Regulation 42. When a person retires from the Health Service and is later re-employed or takes up some other employment in the public service his pension is reduced if necessary so that he does not receive more by way of pension and salary than he was earning be fore he retired. This Regulation provides that the level of abatement applied to a practitioner shall be related not to his earnings when he retired but to his best three consecutive years of earnings.

The benefits of part-time specialists in hospitals are at present calculated on the same basis as for doctors and dentists in general practice, but the new formula for practitioners to which I have referred would not be appropriate for them. Regulations 13 to 20 therefore provide that, for future service, their benefits will be calculated in the same way as for officers in the Health Service with the necessary adjustment to take account of the fact that they are part-time and not full-time officers. If, however, the present basis is more favourable in the case of any individual practitioner it will continue to apply.

We have found it possible to introduce an optional improvement in the level of widow's pension provided. A married man at present surrenders two-thirds of his lump sum retiring allowance to provide a widow's pension equivalent to one-third of his own. Regulation 21 gives him—or his widow if he should die in service—the Option of surrendering the remaining part of the lump sum in return for an increase to the widow's pension from a third to a half of the husband's pension.

Regulation 23 introduces allowances in respect of dependent children of officers who have at least ten years' service and who die either in service or following retirement on pension on or after the operative date of the Regulations. The rates of the allowances are given in Schedule 1, and I would draw the attention of the House in particular to the fact that the rate for wholly orphaned children is double that for children with a surviving parent or step-parent.

The last change I should like to mention concerns redundancy which, though not a major problem in the Health Service, occurs from time to time. The 1962 amending Regulations introduced immediate pensions for officers with ten years' service or more who were made redundant after age fifty-five. A man or a woman with at least ten years' service but who is under fifty-five years of age when made redundant will now be en titled by Regulations 24 and 25 to a pension at age sixty or, for certain special classes like nurses, at age fifty-five; in other words, his pension will be frozen until he reaches that age. I should like to say, in conclusion, that all the staff interests have been fully consulted. While they would have liked us to go further than we have felt able to go in some instances, they have generally welcomed the changes incorporated in these Regulations. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the Draft National Health Service (Superannuation) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1966, laid before the House on November 8, 1966, be approved.—(Lord Hughes.)

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