Judicial Pensions Statutory Instrument:
I thank the Minister for his explanation of the statutory instrument and I confirm the instrument is not opposed.
Plainly the Government must follow the decision of the Supreme Court in O’Brien v Ministry of Justice. The court appears to have taken a bit of a dim view of the Government’s stance that it should be able to deny part time judges a pension.
Yet given the appellant had previously not succeeded it is difficult to criticise the Government for engaging in litigation.
It fell to the Government to construct a scheme for fee-paid judges. Initially that had been expected to be launched by 31 March 2016.
Then by 1 December 2016 and then it was announced that it would be in place by April 2017. Perhaps the Minister can explain the long delay?
A news item on the Ministry’s website dated 6 August stated ‘It has become clear that drafting the regulations is proving more complex than was originally anticipated.
The main reasons for the delay is due to the complexity of drafting the parts of the regulations with AVCs.
These parts of the regulations are also required to address both retrospective and future added benefits.’
However the regulations before us today contain two very short sections. Is the Minister satisfied that the complexities have been overcome?
These regulations facilitate then the establishment of the pension scheme.
The court, of course, found that the lack of pension and other benefits was less favourable treatment for some judicial office holders when compared with their salaried counterparts doing the same or similar work.
And this new scheme of course was required to have effect from 7 April 2000. The date on which the UK ought to have implemented the part-time work directive.
Earlier this month in another case the Ministry of Justice and the Lord Chancellor were found to have discriminated against younger judges by requiring them to leave the judicial pension scheme in April 2015 but not doing the same for older judges.
Is that likely to add any further delay to implementing the fee-paid scheme? Can the Minister confirm if he intends to appeal that decision?
The Minister is doubtless aware that the case will be watched keenly by other public sector workers who have been subject to transitional arrangements.