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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the amendment follows closely Amendment No. 27 which my noble and learned friend Lord Archer and I put before the House at Report stage. I have no doubt that the wording is better than that which we put forward. The amendment recognises the point made. That is confirmed by the Minister's speech.

Of course we are not too grateful because we would have preferred the appeals procedure to be on the face of the Bill. We believe that appeals procedures are by their nature quasi judicial, provisions for which should not be tucked away in a scheme even though alterations to a scheme are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. However, this is the best that we shall gain; and we are grateful for the amendment.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, I was slightly involved in this matter. One has the feeling again that one has not striven in vain. Although we have not achieved exactly what we sought, we have achieved recognition that the scheme may be so amended subject to circumstances which are never so easy to define. For my part, I am extremely grateful to my noble friend the Minister for going that far.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 6:

Page 8, line 26, after ("(3)") insert ("or (3A)").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass. The Bill paves the way for a new criminal injuries compensation scheme under which compensation will be paid to blameless victims of violent crimes on a statutory basis. The new scheme to be made under the Bill's powers will concentrate on a straightforward tariff approach for the majority of victims. But it will also ensure that the needs of those most seriously affected by their injuries are generously met. We believe such an approach strikes the right balance between the needs of victims and the interests of taxpayers.

In our view, continuation of the old scheme, based on common law damages, was no longer a sustainable option. Costs were rising rapidly, and the backlog of unresolved cases was increasing steadily, despite the best endeavours of my noble friend, Lord Carlisle, and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board—mainly by

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reason of the year by year increase in applications made. And perhaps I may again pay tribute to my noble friend and his colleagues for all the good work that they have done and, indeed, continue to do, achieving notable improvements in productivity in recent years.

Perhaps I may say as an aside that I know that my noble friend would have been in his seat today but for an accident; he is unable to be in the Chamber today. On your behalf, I send him our best wishes.

Nonetheless, they have inevitably been constrained by the parameters of the scheme they have had to operate and which have tended to militate against more speedy resolution of cases.

The new tariff scheme, on the other hand, should be easier for victims to understand and, for the great majority of cases, simpler to operate. Most victims should have a better idea when they apply how much money they are likely to receive, and they should receive that money more quickly. The new scheme should also enable costs to be more readily predicted and controlled. Yet the new scheme will continue to be the most generous anywhere in the world. We expect to pay out some £1 billion in compensation between now and the end of this decade. That is by any standards a significant amount of taxpayers' money and will enable us to run an unparalleled scheme of which we can rightly continue to be proud.

In drawing up the new scheme, we of course paid regard to the criticisms of the earlier, non-statutory tariff scheme which was withdrawn earlier this year, following the ruling of the Judicial Committee of this House. And we have continued to listen to the many helpful comments made in both Houses, and in other quarters, as the Bill has proceeded through its various parliamentary stages. This has enabled us to make a number of improvements, both to the Bill and to the draft scheme itself that will, if the Bill receives Royal Assent, shortly be presented to Parliament for approval.

Perhaps the most far-reaching change effected in this Chamber during the Bill's passage through your Lordships' House was the group of amendments dealing with parliamentary control over the new arrangements. The whole scheme will now require parliamentary approval by the affirmative resolution procedure before it can be brought into force. Previously only the "key" features of the scheme—that is, those relating to the tariff itself and matters bearing on quantum—would have required parliamentary approval. But the Bill goes further than that. It now also provides that any subsequent change to the "key" features of the scheme, however minor, will require parliamentary approval by the affirmative resolution procedure, while a minor change to any other features will be subject to approval by the negative resolution procedure. I am sure your Lordships will agree that this is a very significant change indeed, since it gives Parliament rather than the Executive control over all aspects of the scheme. Ministers will no longer be able to make any changes at all to the scheme without the consent of Parliament.

I made reference a moment ago to the helpful debates we have had on the Bill both here, and in another place. Much of that debate was, inevitably, focused on the

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provisions of the draft scheme rather than the provisions of the Bill itself. I have to say that your Lordships were not inhibited in letting us know quite firmly where you felt change or improvement was needed. In the light of those debates we have made numerous changes to the draft scheme.

Key changes include greater consistency in the terminology used throughout the draft scheme. We have provided a table of contents and set out the scheme's provisions in a more logical fashion. We have clarified the criteria for waiving time limits. We have clarified the provisions for loss of income, in particular those aspects relating to pension rights and the use of multiplier tables. We have also amended the provisions for special expenses to make it clear that they cover unpaid care by a relative or friend. Fatal provision now covers a former spouse, and we have now made clearer the circumstances in which deductions may be made from awards. We have clarified the provisions relating to oral hearings, the adjournment of hearings and the circumstances in which interim payments will be made. I think the new draft scheme is very much the better for all these changes, and I hope your Lordships will share the feeling of satisfaction that this House has once again made a significant contribution to an important piece of legislation that will directly affect many tens of thousands of people each year.

We have, as a number of your Lordships will know already, just produced a further draft of the new scheme. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House for perusal by those of your Lordships who may not yet have had an opportunity to see it. It will be our intention to lay the scheme before Parliament for formal approval as soon as possible after the next session starts.

Finally, I wish to thank all noble Lords who have contributed to deliberations on the Bill, particularly the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. In his inestimable way he pointed out many of the ways in which changes have been effected to the Bill, with help at the Dispatch Box from his noble and learned friend Lord Archer.

I also wish to thank the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, for his contribution to the Bill, as I thank my colleagues on these Benches, particularly the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate. Even with his busy schedule he found time to lend assistance to me on the Bill. I am enormously grateful for that assistance and for the expertise which he lent during the course of the debate. I thank my Whip, my noble friend Lord Courtown. This is his first Bill and I am grateful for his help. Also my noble friends on the Back Benches have been hugely helpful and constructive, even though we have not met them on absolutely every detail.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Baroness Blatch.)

4.45 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, there are three kinds of Bill which come before your Lordships: first, those which are uncontroversial—and I shall not waste time by referring to them; secondly, those where we are sharply divided on political and ideological

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grounds, such as the poll tax Bill or large parts of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill and the Police and Magistrates' Courts Bill, to take recent examples. On those, there is nothing to be done except to slug it out, toe-to-toe. Then there is the third kind of Bill where there is a measure of agreement about the principle behind it, yet we feel that inadequate thought and consideration have gone into its preparation. I believe that this Bill is in the third category.

I forgive the inadequate thought and preparation to some extent. Without going into the murky history of the illegal actions of the Home Secretary, it must be recognised that the Home Office had a relatively short time between 5th April, when the existing scheme was found to be illegal, and today, which is almost the last day on which the Bill can pass both Houses in order to take effect by 1st April 1996. Thus many of the defects of the Bill are understandable, but they are still there and need to be dealt with. Many needed to be dealt with by this House rather than another place.

We have made substantial changes. We have not achieved some of the major objectives which we had in considering the Bill. Although we accepted that in practical terms we had to move to an enhanced tariff scheme, nevertheless we felt that the permanent, on-going, long-term features of the scheme should be on the face of the Bill in the form of primary legislation. Our amendments at the Committee stage were devoted to that end.

It is disappointing to find that, despite the movement towards parliamentary involvement in the form of the affirmative resolution procedure to which the Minister referred, nevertheless parliamentary approval is a good deal less effective than it would have been if it had been on the face of the Bill and subject to amendment.

We are disappointed about a number of details of the scheme. We still feel that it is wrong to put entirely on the social services the responsibility regarding loss of earnings in the first 28 weeks, not least because approximately 12 million people in the country do not benefit from statutory sick pay. That is either because they are not employed or because they are not employed by people who are able to recognise the scheme.

We do not believe that the treatment of multiple injuries is right. It is based on a false statistical calculation and when the scheme is in action it will prove to be inadequate. We do not believe that the scheme is adequate in its recognition of the differences in compensation which should be due to people of both sexes or in different age groups. We feel that the scheme is too cursory and does not allow for recognition of real differences, particularly, for example, with facial injuries according to how young one is and of which sex.

Adequate attention has not been paid to the issue of compensation for pregnancy following rape. There is compensation when the pregnancy results in a live birth and the child is kept, but in other cases there are injuries which are still not adequately recognised in the tariff.

We are not happy about many things, but I have quite a long list of provisions which have been changed as a result of amendments proposed by Labour—not that

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Labour has won any amendments. We seldom put matters to the vote and this was not the kind of Bill where we sought to win on the Floor of the House. Concessions have been made following the amendments which we put down at different stages of the Bill. For those, we are grateful.

First, regarding time limits, we did not succeed in getting the time period extended from two years to three years. However, what was originally a criterion for out-of-time applications of exceptional cases has now been amended to relate to special circumstances. We understand that it may well be amended further to relate to particular circumstances following the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner. That is one good point.

We have just been debating unpaid care at home by a friend or relative. First, it was conceded that there would be payment for loss of earnings or extra expenses. Now it is conceded that there will be payment for loss of earning capacity. Regarding awards for frivolous or vexatious appeals, it has been agreed in the last few minutes that the provision will apply only where there is an oral hearing and not where a decision is made on the papers alone.

The most recent amendment which the Minister persuaded noble Lords was right, with our agreement, was that major changes to the appeals procedure would have to go through the affirmative resolution procedure. Again, that follows amendments which we put down at earlier stages. There has been clarification as a result of amendments which we put down in Committee about what happens when a person who was fatally injured was temporarily on state benefit. In those circumstances, the calculation of dependency is on the basis of potential loss of earnings, as it should be. We believe that we have got somewhere in paragraph 32 of the tariff on the use of actuarial Ogden tables for the multiplier. The note to the scheme is better than it was and less crude, but we believe that an even better way of calculating compensation could be found. However, the wording is still to be finalised.

On those and probably other matters which I have overlooked, there has been substantial improvement in the Bill. For that I am most grateful to the Minister and to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate, who agreed to see me, unusually, both before the Committee stage and between Committee and Report stages.

I believe that we have had constructive exchanges which have resulted in a scheme which everybody agrees is better than it would have been if we had not had those opportunities. I am most grateful to my noble and learned friend Lord Archer of Sandwell for his support. He is sorry that he is unable to be here today. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, for his support in the early stages of the Bill. Working with the noble Lords, Lord Windlesham and Lord Carlisle, in a spirit of consultation, I suppose, has been a particularly great pleasure.

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I wish the Bill well. I hope that further changes which may be necessary will be made without unnecessary contention. As a result, I hope that we shall have a scheme of which we can all be proud.

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