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Chamber and committees

Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee

Legislative Consent Memorandum Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill

Letter from the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans to the Convener, 24 January 2022

Dear Stuart,

Thank you for your letter of 20 January following the Committee’s consideration of the legislative consent memorandum for the Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill, noting that the memorandum states that “including the provision within the Bill which provides for devolved judicial offices to be added to judicial pension schemes at the request of Scottish Ministers will allow for this to be exercised by Scottish Ministers at any point in time in the future without the need for further legislative work”.  

As the Committee note, UK Government subordinate legislation would be needed should the Scottish Ministers request that devolved judicial offices should be added to the new pension scheme.  The Committee asks why the Scottish Government consider it appropriate for this power to be exercised by order made by the Secretary of State, rather than by Scottish statutory instrument.

Pension matters for the Scottish judiciary, like judicial remuneration generally, are closely linked to reserved matters. The Public Service Pensions Act 2013 enables regulations to establish pension schemes in respect of the judiciary, however the provision contains a restriction preventing a holder of a devolved office from falling within the meaning of ‘the judiciary’ within that Act.  As a practical solution to this issue and to deal with pensions of devolved office-holders, the UK Government offered the approach set out in the Bill: a power to add devolved judicial office holders to a pension scheme for the Secretary of State but that the power would only be exercised at the request of the Scottish Ministers.  In such a case, we would be requesting that devolved judicial office holders be included in a reserved pension scheme.

We consider that ensuring there is a mechanism in place to add devolved offices at the request of Scottish Ministers into reserved pension schemes would be helpful and appropriate in these circumstances. As there are currently so few judicial offices and in turn, judicial office holders, for which responsibility for pensions is a devolved matter and due to the close links to reserved matters, I consider being able to access the reserved pension scheme for devolved offices to be advantageous to avoid unnecessary costs and the administrative burden that would be required to set up a Scottish scheme to mirror UK pension provisions.  

I would also be happy to commit to the Committee being notified in writing if such a request is in contemplation and for such notification be made in sufficient time for the Committee to consider the Scottish Ministers’ proposed request and respond before the request is made to the Lord Chancellor.

Keith Brown

Associated Legislative Consent Memorandum

Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill