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Northern Ireland Office: Staff

Volume 709: debated on Tuesday 24 March 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 9 February (WA 166), why salary and pension costs for Northern Ireland Office staff have risen 78 per cent in the six years to 2007–08 from £29.532 million to £51.636 million; and what were the numeric and percentage increases in staff in those years. [HL1535]

There are three main reasons for the department's salary and pension costs increasing from £29.532 million to £51.636 million in the six years to 2007-08:

Increase in staff numbers

The staff numbers for the Northern Ireland Office, excluding its agencies and Executive NDPBs, since 2001-02 are shown in the following table.

Financial Year

Staff Numbers















This represents an increase of 365 staff in the six-year period which equates to a percentage increase of 41.2 per cent.

However, during this period the Public Prosecution Service (PPS)—whose staff are included in these numbers—has increased from 159 to 546 staff (an increase of 387). The PPS was established in June 2005 by the Justice (NI) Act 2002 and is now responsible for all criminal cases previously prosecuted by the Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPPNI) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The PPS has been implemented over a number of phases from 2003 onwards and staffing levels have increased accordingly.

Excluding the Public Prosecution Service, the department's staff numbers have actually decreased over the period.

Annual pay increases

The average annual pay increases for Northern Ireland Office staff, excluding its agencies and Executive NDPBs, since 2001-02 have also affected the total cost. The average increase has been 3.78 per cent per annum during this period.

Superannuation Increases

The majority of staff belong to the PCSPS or PCSPS(NI) schemes. The employers accruing superannuation liability charges (ASLCs) for these schemes have risen over the period since 2001-02.

In 2001-02, the ASLC rates ranged between 12.0 per cent and 20.5 per cent of pensionable pay, depending on pensionable salary. The rates in 2007-08 ranged between 16.5 per cent and 23.5 per cent, also depending on pensionable salary.