I move amendment No. 8:
In page 12, before section 19, to insert the following new section:
19.-(1) The Board may prepare and submit to the Minister a scheme (in this section called a 'special amending scheme') which-
(a) amends a scheme to which this subsection applies (the 'receiving scheme') by providing-
(i) for a fund established by and maintained under the receiving scheme to receive and include assets transferred from a fund established by and maintained under another scheme to which this subsection applies (the 'transferring scheme') and contributions payable under the transferring scheme, and
(ii) for benefits arising under the transferring scheme to be paid out of the fund established by and maintained under the receiving scheme,
(b) amends a scheme to which this subsection applies (the 'transferring scheme') by providing-
(i) for the assets of a fund established by and maintained under the transferring scheme (if any) to be transferred, and contributions payable under the transferring scheme to be paid, to a fund established by and maintained under another scheme to which this subsection applies (the 'receiving scheme'), and
(ii) for benefits arising under the transferring scheme to cease to be payable out of the fund established by and maintained under the transferring scheme.
(2) a) A special amending scheme shall not amend any scheme to which subsection (1) applies so as to provide less favourable benefits, or to provide benefits on less favourable terms and conditions, than those provided before the special amending scheme was made.
(b) A fund established by and maintained under a scheme which is a receiving scheme for the purposes of subsection (1) shall, after receiving any transfer of assets or payment of contributions made pursuant to a special amending scheme, continue to be deemed to be held under an irrevocable trust in accordance with section 44(7) of the Transport Act, 1950.
(3) Subsection (1) applies to-
(a) the schemes specified in Part I to the Table to this section, and
(b) any superannuation scheme specified in regulations under subsection (6).
(4) Subsections (1) to (6) of section 44 of the Transport Act, 1950, shall apply, with any necessary modifications and adaptations, to a special amending scheme.
(5) (a) The schemes confirmed by the orders specified in Part II of the Table to this section (in this subsection referred to as the 'scheduled schemes') shall be deemed always to have been validly made by the Board, and to have been validly confirmed by the Minister, under the said section 44.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), that paragraph does not apply to a scheduled scheme if and in so far as it provides less favourable benefits, or provides benefits on less favourable terms and conditions, than those provided before the scheduled scheme was made.
(c) A fund established by and maintained under a scheme amended by a scheduled scheme shall, after receiving any transfer of assets or payment of contributions made pursuant to a scheduled scheme, continue to be deemed to be held under an irrevocable trust in accordance with section 44(7) of the Transport Act, 1950.
(6) The Minister may, if he or she considers it appropriate to do so and is so requested by the Board, specify by regulations for the purposes of subsection (3) a superannuation scheme made by the Board or in relation to which the Board may exercise any power formerly exercisable by the person who made the scheme.
(7) In this section-
'the Board' means Córas Iompair Éireann;
'the Minister' means the Minister for Public Enterprise.
Córas Iompair Éireann Salaried Officers' and Clerks' (G.S.R.) Superannuation Scheme
A scheme made under rule 54 of the Scheme aforesaid.
A scheme made under section 44 of the Transport Act, 1944 (No. 21 of 1944) and confirmed under section 45 of that Act.
A scheme made under section 44 of the Transport Act, 1950 (No. 12 of 1950) or referred to in section 45 of that Act or made under a power contained in such a scheme.
A scheme made under a power conferred under section 25 of the Transport (Reorganisation of Córas Iompair Éireann) Act, 1986.
Great Northern Railway Company (Ireland) Pension Fund for Wages Staff (Amendment) Scheme (Confirmation) Order, 1995 (S.I. No. 317 of 1995).
Great Southern Railways Company Pension Scheme for Regular Wages Staff (Amendment) Scheme (Confirmation) Order, 1995 (S.I. No. 318 of 1995).
Córas Iompair Éireann Pension Scheme for Regular Wages Staff (Amendment) Scheme (Confirmation) Order, 1996 (S.I. No. 115 of 1996).
An opportunity is being availed of here to address certain technical legal difficulties which have arisen in relation to CIE superannuation schemes. This amendment concerns the amalgamation of CIE pension funds. The purpose of this amendment is to change the present requirement that each CIE pension scheme should have a separate fund by allowing the company to propose the amalgamation of pension funds operated by it.
Under current legislation there is no specific statutory provision for the amalgamation of pension funds. For a variety of reasons, CIE wishes to proceed with an amalgamation of the funds of the salaried superannuation schemes. It has reached agreement with the members of the schemes to do so.
In addition, while it is not directly connected with this provision, I understand agreement has been reached on certain improved superannuation benefits which will be introduced once the funds are amalgamated.
This provision will allow pension funds to be amalgamated while keeping separate the actual pension schemes. This is because the various pension schemes in place in CIE provide for different contributions and different benefits. Therefore, the contributions which the members pay and the benefits which they receive will not be affected per se by the merger.
Subsection (1) allows existing schemes to be amended so that the funds of the schemes can be merged. Under it a fund established and maintained under pension scheme A, for example, can take on the obligations to receive the contributions and pay the benefits arising under pension scheme B. At the same time, the fund established by pension scheme B can have all its assets transferred to the fund of pension scheme A. Thereafter, there would be a single fund which would receive the contributions and pay the benefits arising under both schemes.
Subsection (2) protects the interests of the members of the schemes by ensuring that an amendment made under subsection (1) will not operate so as to provide less favourable benefits or to provide benefits on less favourable terms and conditions than those applying before the amendment is made. In addition, the existing requirement that all pension funds must be deemed to be held on irrevocable trusts will continue to apply to the merged funds. This will ensure the merged funds will continue to enjoy exempt approval status for tax purposes as they do at present.
Subsection (3) defines the pension schemes which may be amended to allow for the merger of funds. The power to merge funds will cover the principal pension schemes made by CIE and may be extended to other pension schemes by ministerial order under subsection (6).
Subsection (4) applies the provisions of subsections (1) to (6) of section 44 of the Transport Act, 1950, which prescribe the procedures to be followed in making and approving pension schemes to amendments made under this section. For instance, when CIE wishes to amend a pension scheme to merge funds, it must prepare the necessary amendment and submit it to the Minister. Notice of the proposed amendment will be published and there will be an opportunity for interested parties to make objections and representations. Only after considering these objections and representations will the Minister decide whether to confirm the proposed amendment. As an alternative to confirming it, she can first decide on such modifications as she considers proper or she may refer it back to CIE for reconsideration and resubmission, but no amendment will be effective until the Minister confirms it.
Subsection (5) validates a previous amalgamation of the funds of certain other CIE pensions schemes. Doubts had been raised about the validity of that amalgamation under existing legislation. Rather than leave those doubts outstanding, it was decided to take this opportunity to put the validity of the amalgamation beyond any doubt.
Subsection (6) allows the Minister, by order, to extend the power to amalgamate funds to other specified schemes. The order may specify not only schemes made by CIE but also pension schemes made originally by former transport undertakings and now operated by CIE. This is a technical legal provision designed to allow the introduction of more flexible and efficient arrangements for funding pensions without, in any way, altering the rights and entitlements of workers in relation to their pensions. I draw the attention of colleagues to the need to change the words "to the Table" to "of the Table" in subsection (3)(a). I would appreciate if colleagues would agree to this minor change in the amendment.