Legislation on public service pensions 'to pass on the blind'
12 July 2012
LEGISLATION ON public service pensions was being passed without full knowledge of its contents, Fianna Fáil claimed last night. The party’s public expenditure spokesman, Seán Fleming, said TDs were being asked “to pass legislation on the blind”.
“We should not be asked to pass legislation dealing specifically with pensionable allowances when we don’t know” what those allowances were, he said.
Mr Fleming told Minister of State Kathleen Lynch, standing in for Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, that if she or he were to go for an interview “and we were asked what allowances were included in the legislation we had passed on public service pensions . . . neither you nor I would know the answer to that question”.
Mr Fleming was speaking during a debate on the report and final stages of the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Bill 2011, which was passed by 98 to 36 votes.
The Bill establishes a pension scheme for new public sector employees and averages pensions out over an entire career rather than on the final salary on retirement. Mr Howlin had previously said the legislation would mostly affect those earning “Rolls Royce-type salaries”, while those on flat career average salaries would be “relatively unaffected”.
In the Dáil yesterday, Mr Fleming referred to parliamentary replies he had received for allowances across Government departments, which listed “hundreds of allowances”. “It makes no sense for the Government to claim it does not have the list.”
The Laois-Offaly TD said he was shocked the Minister “does not even intend giving the list” and it showed “gross disrespect to the House”. He would defend some of the allowances “to the last” but others were out of date and should be stopped.
The Minister should have held over this section of the Bill “until his review of allowances was completed, whether that be next week, next month or next November”.
Ms Lynch said the review was ongoing. She said Mr Howlin had said that when the review was completed and presented to Government, “he will have no difficulty in publishing it at that stage”.
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