Remuneration and Expenses of the Electoral Commissioners, and Remuneration and Expenses of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission

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Mr. Stunell: Will the benefits that the chairman receives be exactly the same in outcome, and will the contributions that he pays be exactly the same in input, as those of a comparable civil servant?

Mr. O'Brien: I take some issue with the hon. Gentleman's attempts to tie me down to the word ``exactly''. The objective is for the situation to be ``broadly by analogy''. I cannot confirm that the pension will be exactly the same as that of a civil servant, but members of the Committee will be clear about the objective. I do not want to make a commitment to the Committee that will involve us in performing legal and financial gymnastics to achieve a given objective. I simply want to ensure that we can achieve broadly the same outcome. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept that answer. If he wants to press the matter, he can do so in a parliamentary question. If the outcome were substantially different, I would be very surprised. If he wishes, I can ask that he be informed in writing of the eventual outcome, and how the arrangements have been made.

Mr. Stunell: I would certainly appreciate that.

Mr. O'Brien: My officials have noted that the hon. Gentleman would like to be informed of the pensions arrangements, to satisfy himself that they are on the same basis as those that I have outlined to the Committee.

The objective is to achieve a similar salary as that given to High Court judges. That will not happen this year because, as I said, for a time, Mr. Sam Younger was working for the Red Cross. However, the objective is to achieve such a salary on the anniversary of his appointment.

I am not aware that the Review Body on Senior Salaries was involved in the matter. I also do not understand why it would be involved, as it reviews salaries that have already been granted. The Government's objective—which we have achieved—is to set a salary that will attract the best possible candidate. We also want to ensure that, in due course, the salary is upgraded. The Review Body on Senior Salaries might have a role at that stage, as it will consider the type of salary that must be awarded to people at a similar grade to that of Mr. Younger. Therefore, the board will become involved at a later stage, but not at this one. We had to take independent advice from PricewaterhouseCoopers on the type of salary that was required to attract the best possible candidate. That was our approach.

I hope that I have dealt with the various points that have been raised in this short debate. I am grateful to hon. Gentlemen for their support for the motion—[Interruption.]

The Chairman: Does the Minister wish to say ``hon. Members''?

Mr. O'Brien: Yes; hon. Members.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

    That the following provision shall be made with respect to the remuneration and expenses of the Electoral Commissioners (''a relevant Commissioner'') other than the Chairman of the Electoral Commission:

    (1) In respect of remuneration a relevant Commissioner shall be paid £275 for each day on which he performs functions as such.

    (2) A relevant Commissioner shall be paid the actual amount of his expenses incurred in connection with the discharge of his functions as such on travel, accommodation and subsistence.

    (3) This resolution shall take effect from 19th January 2001.

Electoral Commission

Resolved,

    That the following provision shall be made with respect to the remuneration and expenses of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission (``the Chairman''):

    (1) In respect of remuneration for service between 19 January 2001 and 18 January 2002, the Chairman shall be paid £116,000.

    (2) In respect of the period starting with 19 January 2002, the first anniversary of his appointment, and ending immediately before the second anniversary, the Chairman shall be paid as remuneration for that period the sum of £120,000 increased (where applicable) by the same percentage of that sum as the percentage (if any) or total of the percentages (if more than one) used to increase the salary of a High Court judge during the period of one year immediately preceding that first anniversary of the Chairman's appointment.

    (3) In respect of the period starting with the second and any subsequent anniversary of his appointment and ending immediately before the next such anniversary, the Chairman shall be paid as remuneration for that period the sum payable during the immediately preceding period of one year increased (where applicable) by the same percentage of that sum as the percentage (if any) or total of the percentages (if more than one) used to increase the salary of a High Court Judge during the period of one year immediately preceding the anniversary at the beginning of the period in question.

    (4) Where during any of the periods referred to above the Chairman ceases to hold that office, the sum to be paid to him in respect of that period shall be such proportion of the entire sum as reflects the portion of that period that he held the office of Chairman.

    (5) The Chairman shall be paid the actual amount of his expenses incurred in connection with the discharge of his duties as Chairman on travel, accommodation and subsistence.

    (6) The pension of the Chairman shall be broadly by analogy with the pension scheme of the staff of the Commission, thereby delivering a pension based on the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme which provides for a pension accruing at a rate of one-eightieth of salary per year of service, with a lump sum of three times the annual pension and provision for death benefits and dependants' pensions.

    (7) This resolution shall take effect from 19 January 2001.—[Mr. Mike O'Brien.]

        Committee rose at seventeen minutes past Ten o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Clark, Dr. Michael (Chairman)
Drew, Mr.
Gilroy, Mrs.
Gorman, Mrs.
Hall, Mr. Mike
Harman, Ms
Hawkins, Mr.
Kemp, Mr.
Levitt, Mr.
Mountford, Kali
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Prosser, Mr.
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Stunell, Mr.
Woodward, Mr.

 
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Prepared 22 March 2001