Draft Contract Out (Administration of the Teachers' Pensions Scheme) Order 2003

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Dr. John Pugh (Southport): I shall be very brief. If you do not mind, Mr. Taylor, I shall also skip the tributes to your wise and prudent chairmanship.

I have looked in vain for controversy in the order and for some deep-laid Government plot. Instinctive though my bias is against any privatisation of public services, I can see no reason why civil servants should administer pension funds or why properly regulated private companies should not do so, especially when the proposal appears to be supported by unions and teachers in general. The concerns of hon. Members relate not to the order but probably to the scheme's long-term future and, as the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West mentioned, the impact of

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increased contributions on school budgets, but that is for another day.

2.44 pm

Mr. Miliband: As the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West knows, I have no access to the previous Government's papers, so I cannot tell him why section 172 was not incorporated into the original order. He might want to talk to some of his former hon. Friends, or even existing hon. Friends, and find out why.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the practical implications. He will know from the careful study that he has clearly made of the regulations that the Department can at present do all the things that we shall enable Capita to do in the future, so there have been no practical losses, dangers or difficulties for individual teachers. Our belief is that, by unifying the system under Capita, it will be smoother and more efficient.

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The hon. Gentleman asked when the new arrangements will come into force. He may or may not know that the order will be debated in the other place on 13 June. Assuming that it goes through—our majority there is not commensurate with our majority here—it will come into force immediately thereafter.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the impact on school budgets. He was perhaps somewhat ungenerous. Hon. Members might have thought that I had not answered the first of his two questions, which was about the overall cost of the actuaries' changes to teachers' contributions. I believe that I did. From memory, I think that it is £583 million. I answered that in gross. That was the estimate that we put into our calculations on an LEA-by-LEA basis. As we are not the employer, we have to wait till a later date for the information to come through. I assure him that I shall continue to give full, free and frank answers to all his questions in the future.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee rose at fourteen minutes to Three o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Taylor, Mr. David (Chairman)
Austin, Mr.
Best, Mr.
Brady, Mr.
Cawsey, Mr.
Hamilton, David
Lyons, Mr.
Miliband, Mr.
Pugh, Dr.
Rendel, Mr.
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Sheridan, Jim
Twigg, Derek
Waterson, Mr.
Worthington, Tony

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