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Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme: Structured Settlements

Baroness Young asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Blatch: Structured settlements can be a highly advantageous way of paying compensation to victims in higher value cases. It affords them the option of receiving their award, not as a lump sum, but in the form of a stream of periodic payments under an annuity. These payments will be tax-free and can be index-linked, thereby providing guaranteed payments for life or other specified period.

Under provisions in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Bill, this facility will be available to claimants under the new, enhanced tariff scheme to be established under the Bill's powers. The Bill also provides for the facility to be extended to claimants under the present (1990) scheme although, as previously announced (10 July 1995, col. 389, and 17 October 1995, col. 723) that will first require a complementary amendment to the 1990 scheme to allow payment of compensation by the purchase of annuities. Once the Criminal Injuries Compensation Bill receives Royal Assent, we will accordingly amend the 1990 scheme by making some small alterations to paragraph 12, and by the insertion of new paragraphs 12A and 29(g). The revised paragraph 12 and the new paragraphs will read as follows:

    "12A. Where prior agreement is reached between the Board and the applicant, an award may consist in whole or in part of an annuity or annuities, purchased for the benefit of the applicant or to be held on trust for his benefit. Once that agreement is reached, the Board will

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take the instructions of the applicant as to which annuity or annuities should be purchased. Any expenses incurred will be met from the award."

    "29(g). Paragraph 12A of this Scheme will apply additionally to applications otherwise falling to be considered under the 1969 or 1979 Schemes."

These changes will be made when the Criminal Injuries Compensation Bill receives Royal Assent.

Electronic Monitoring

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they have taken following representations from the Magistrates' Association about the trials of electronic monitoring currently in progress in Manchester, Reading and Norfolk.

Baroness Blatch: We have agreed to extend the area covered by the trials from the City of Manchester to the whole of Greater Manchester, and from Reading to the whole of Berkshire, and a Statutory Instrument had been made to give effect to this from Monday 6 November. As a separate issue, we are considering whether to extend the number of courts involved in the trial.

We have also agreed to fund a Magistrates' Association seminar on sentencing in relation to electronic monitoring and this will be held on 8–9 November.

Organophosphates: Chronic Toxicity

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, under their duty to disseminate public health information, they will publish a list of references from their database specifically concerning the chronic toxicity (as opposed to the acute toxicity) of organophosphates on the nervous and cardiovascular systems of higher mammals.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The references to the published data are widely available from commercial toxicology data bases. I will send the noble Countess a list of references.


Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are aware of any differences in the rates of hypothermia among old age pensioners between the United Kingdom and other countries of similar climate; and, if so, whether there is any evidence to suggest a relationship between the levels of pensions and the rates of hypothermia.

Baroness Cumberlege: Information is not held on incidence of hypothermia in other countries.

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Prostate Cancer: NHS Research Priorities

Lord Northfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, since cancer of the prostate is second only to lung cancer as the most common form of cancer in men, they will indicate how many urologists (and, if any, who they are) have been involved in the drawing up of priorities for the research and development programme in cancer of the National Health Service.

Baroness Cumberlege: The priorities for the National Health service research and development programme in cancer were drawn up by an advisory group whose findings and recommendations were published in R and D Priorities in Cancer, Report to the Central Research and Development Committee, 1994, copies of which are available in the Library. It gives details of the advisory group's membership, its sub-groups and the organisations consulted. While it is not possible to identify individual urologists who contributed to this exercise, urologists with an interest in cancer are represented by professional bodies that responded to the consultation.

US War Loan: Repayments

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United Kingdom is still paying "war debts" to the United States; if so whether they amount to the sum of 150 million dollars per year and if not, what sum they do amount to.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The principal currently outstanding under the United States Government's War Loan to the UK Government amounts to 1,124 million dollars. The UK pays interest of 2 per cent. per annum on the amount outstanding. Annual payments by the UK on the debt currently amount to 153 million dollars, comprising both interest and principal. The final repayment under the loan will take place in 2006.

Social Security Expenditure: Effects of Policy Change

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to paragraph 13 of the reply by the Government to the Third Report of the Select Committee on the review of expenditure on Social Security (cm 294B) and the Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish's Written Answer of 4 August (HL Deb 16 October, cols WA, 72–74) and his Answers of 16 October (HL Deb 16 October, cols 577–79) whether the Department of Social Security is able to implement the Treasury guideline which requires "that when any Government Department is considering policy change, it considers the resource implications for other Departments".

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Yes.

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"Budgeting for Food on Benefits"

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Department of Social Security has yet had an opportunity to study the National Consumer Council's report Budgeting for Food on Benefits and, if not, whether it will undertake to do so.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Yes, The Department of Social Security has studied the report.

Asylum Seekers: Welfare Benefits

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they propose to deny welfare benefits, (a) to asylum seekers appealing against initial decisions, and (b) to those whose asylum applications were made "in country" and not at the port of entry.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Under the proposals announcement by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State on 12 October, people who apply for asylum on arrival in the UK will be able to claim Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit until the point where they receive an initial negative decision on their asylum claim.

Those who claim asylum whilst already in the UK will not be eligible for benefits, unless they are nationals of a country which is recognised by the Home Secretary as having undergone a significant upheaval since their arrival in this country. Asylum seekers covered by this exception will be able to claim benefits on the same basis as those who apply on entry.

In no case will benefits be paid during the asylum appeals process.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider their proposals for reducing benefits payable to asylum seekers will lead to homelessness, destitution and inability to study and to prepare for life in Britain.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: People who come to this country as visitors or students do so on the understanding that they will be self-supporting. Lodging a claim for asylum should not automatically relieve them of this responsibility.

Those who claim asylum on arrival in the UK, or whose country is recognised as having undergone a significant upheaval, will retain entitlement to Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit until a negative decision is reached on their asylum application. Those who are found by the Home Office Secretary not to be refugees should not expect to receive the continuing support of the taxpayer.

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