Session 2010-12
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General Committee Debates
Delegated Legislation Committee Debates

Draft Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1943 (Time Limit for Appeals) (Amendment) Regulations 2011
Draft Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1943 (Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme) (Rights of Appeal) Regulations 2011

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Mr Philip Hollobone 

Barwell, Gavin (Croydon Central) (Con) 

de Bois, Nick (Enfield North) (Con) 

Donaldson, Mr Jeffrey M. (Lagan Valley) (DUP) 

Ellwood, Mr Tobias (Bournemouth East) (Con) 

Francois, Mr Mark (Vice-Chamberlain of Her Majesty's Household)  

Gardiner, Barry (Brent North) (Lab) 

Gilbert, Stephen (St Austell and Newquay) (LD) 

Hemming, John (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD) 

Jones, Mr Kevan (North Durham) (Lab) 

Lord, Jonathan (Woking) (Con) 

Lumley, Karen (Redditch) (Con) 

Raynsford, Mr Nick (Greenwich and Woolwich) (Lab) 

Robathan, Mr Andrew (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence)  

Ruddock, Joan (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab) 

Smith, Mr Andrew (Oxford East) (Lab) 

Tredinnick, David (Bosworth) (Con) 

Whitehead, Dr Alan (Southampton, Test) (Lab) 

Wright, David (Telford) (Lab) 

Alison Groves, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

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First Delegated Legislation Committee 

Tuesday 3 May 2011  

[Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair] 

Draft Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1943 (Time Limit for Appeals) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 

10.30 am 

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Andrew Robathan):  I beg to move, 

That the Committee has considered the draft Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1943 (Time Limit for Appeals) (Amendment) Regulations 2011. 

The Chair:  With this it will be convenient to consider the draft Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1943 (Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme) (Rights of Appeal) Regulations 2011. 

Mr Robathan:  May I offer you my congratulations, Mr Hollobone—belated by about a year—on your elevation to the Panel of Chairs? 

On 10 February 2010, the previous Government announced the outcome of the review of the armed forces compensation scheme, conducted under the independent chairmanship of Admiral Lord Boyce. I am grateful to the noble and gallant lord for the thorough way he conducted the review and for producing such a meticulous report. 

The Ministry of Defence committed to implementing all Lord Boyce’s recommendations within a year. The more straightforward changes were put in revised legislation in July 2010. The more detailed recommendations were laid in new legislation on 28 February 2011. The two affirmative instruments being debated today complete the legislative changes required to implement the full package of changes. 

The armed forces compensation scheme came into force on 6 April 2005 to pay compensation for injury, illness or death caused by service. That provided lump-sum payments and, for the more seriously injured, a guaranteed income for life. It replaced the compensation arrangements provided by the war pensions scheme and the attributable elements of the armed forces pensions scheme. 

The new scheme is a significant improvement—rightly—on previous arrangements. Injured servicemen are now able to claim compensation while they are still in service, and the previous Government should be commended for introducing the scheme in 2005, as well as for initiating a review of the armed forces compensation scheme in 2009 to ensure that it continues to support the needs of the armed forces. 

The brave men and women of our armed forces deserve our admiration. More than that, they deserve to be treated with respect, and they rightly expect the nation to honour their commitment. We have a duty—a moral duty—to those injured due to service to provide a just and fair compensation scheme for them. 

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The first statutory instrument relates to the subject of time limits for appeals if an individual is not happy with the decision made on a compensation claim. The intent is to extend the time limit for appealing decisions made under the armed forces compensation scheme from six months to 12. That recognises that the nature of service life may prevent claimants from picking up their mail and making an appeal within the current time limit of six months. 

For appeals heard in Scotland and Northern Ireland, that requires section 8 of the Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1943 to be amended. The first affirmative statutory instrument makes the required amendments to that Act. The time limits governing appeals on armed forces compensation scheme awards heard in England and Wales are provided in the Tribunal Procedure Rules. Those rules have been amended to increase the time limit for appealing to 12 months, with the changes coming into force from 9 May. 

To ensure consistency and fairness, that affirmative instrument also increases the time limit for bringing appeals in respect of all other types of decision capable of appeal under the 1943 Act, including decisions made in relation to the war pensions scheme. 

The second statutory instrument is on the subject of rights of appeal. The intent is to make it clear that two types of new decision under the scheme do not carry appeal rights. The first relates to claims for a fast payment. The fast payment is a new provision introduced to enable those who have a serious injury due to service to receive an early payment before going through the full compensation claim process. That will help to provide them and their families with some early financial support and reassurance during what can be a very difficult time. If the final award is less than the value of the fast payment, no money will be recovered. Where additional money is payable, the balance is transferred to the claimant. 

The decision on the final award carries appeal rights. As the fast payment decision is not a final decision, so the instrument excludes fast payment decisions from the list of decisions capable of being appealed. Not to make that change would result in a rather confusing system for claimants. 

The second new type of payment is one for medical expenses incurred abroad by seriously injured personnel who decide to live permanently outside the UK within a year of leaving the armed forces. That power broadens the scope of the scheme. As Lord Boyce recognised in his report, the new power is discretionary, so it would not be appropriate for it to have external appeal rights, but rather 

“an individual would be able to request the MOD to reconsider its decision”. 

That remains open to the individual if they are not content with the decision made on their claim. 

The two statutory instruments are the next step in ensuring that the armed forces compensation scheme remains fit for purpose. 

10.35 am 

Mr Kevan Jones (North Durham) (Lab):  I start by welcoming you to the Chair, Mr Hollobone. This is my first time serving under your chairmanship, and I join the Minister in belatedly congratulating you on being appointed to the Panel of Chairs. 

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As the Minister said, the statutory instruments result from the review of the armed forces compensation scheme. Perhaps few things that we do as Ministers get recognised at the time, but it is nice to see them being put into practice ultimately. I appreciate the Minister’s warm words about the improvements that have been made to the scheme, although at the time there was some press criticism and some hyperbole from those on the Conservative Benches—criticism was levelled at the scheme, which is, in essence, a good scheme that has been improved upon by Lord Boyce’s recommendations. 

I also pay tribute to Lord Boyce and to the independent group of experts. He had medical experts available to him, as well as members of COBSEO—the Confederation of British Service and Ex-Service Organisations—the Royal British Legion and others. I pay tribute, too, to the civil service team under Peter Davies, which worked hard to act as a secretariat and to ensure that the recommendations were not only practical, but would be affordable in terms of implementation by the previous Government and by the coalition Government. These are sensible recommendations that we support. 

10.36 am 

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD):  I apologise to the Committee for being late and congratulate you,

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Mr Hollobone, on your appointment to the Panel of Chairs. I am pleased to serve under you for the first time. 

I am pleased that the statutory instruments are being debated. I recognise the difficulty that people have at times in hitting deadlines for appeals. Although at some stage there has to be a deadline, I am happy to support these measures. 

10.37 am 

Mr Robathan:  I have nothing further to say, save to wish the statutory instruments well. 

Question put and agreed to.  



That the Committee has considered the draft Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1943 (Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme) (Rights of Appeal) Regulations 2011.—(Mr Robathan.)  

10.38 am 

Committee rose.