Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Fifth Report


Memorandum by the Department of Social Security


1. The Committee has requested a Memorandum on the following point:

    "Given that the new regulation 1(3A) inserted into the 1997 Regulations by regulation 11 provides that regulations 2 to 6 and 8 and 9 of the 1997 Regulations do not apply to a Republic of Ireland Scheme, explain the purpose of applying regulations 1 and 7 alone to such schemes."

2. These Regulations exempt, from the requirements of certain regulations made under the Pension Schemes Act 1993, certain occupational pensions schemes which are established in the Republic of Ireland and which have, or have had, at least one member in pensionable service in Great Britain. The "1997 Regulations", to which the Committee refers, are the Register of Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes Regulations 1997 (S.I. 1997/371) which make provision in connection with the maintenance of a register of occupational and personal pension schemes. Regulation 7 provides that a person who fails, without reasonable cause, to comply with certain requirements of the 1997 Regulations as to the provision of information to the Registrar is guilty of an offence, and that a person who misuses information from the register is liable to a civil penalty.

3. Shortly before these Regulations were due to be made, it was noticed that the disapplication of regulation 7(1) to Republic of Ireland schemes would have required the exercise of the power in section 168(2) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993. This would, by virtue of section 186(3)(d), have subjected the entire instrument to the affirmative resolution procedure. It would not then have been possible to make the Regulations in time to have them in force by the end of the year 2000, so that a commitment to that effect to the Government of the Republic of Ireland could not have been met.

4. It was accordingly decided that regulation 7 should not for the time being be disapplied in the case of Republic of Ireland schemes. This cannot have unintended practical consequences for any person in connection with such a scheme: no new liability to prosecution or to a penalty can arise under the 1997 Regulations in the case of such a person after 30 December 2000, because the requirement to comply with the provisions whose breach would attract such liability has been disapplied in relation to such a person since 31 December 2000.

5. Regulation 7 and, in consequence, regulation 1 of the 1997 Regulations will be disapplied in relation to Republic of Ireland schemes when the next opportunity arises to make regulations under the Pension Schemes Act 1993 by the affirmative procedure.

23 January 2001

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