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Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the explanation of the draft order. We on this side of the House fully support it. It is timely that the new fund should come into operation and we hope that the department will succeed in achieving that very quickly.
It might be useful at this stage, though not directly material to the point that the Minister made tonight--I gave him notice of this point and we agreed that it was perhaps a useful thing to do--to ask the Minister, in relation to the existing International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund, what is happening in relation to the damage that was caused by the "Sea Empress" incident recently. I know that the fund's executive committee, which met shortly after the "Sea Empress" incident, decided that the fund should make no compensation payments until the situation was clarified regarding the total amount of the claims. Then, I understand, the Government intervened and were able to broker an arrangement whereby compensation amounting to something like nearly £¼ million overall was paid. That certainly is a step that we believe it was proper for the Government to take.
On 16th April there was a decision made by the committee that the fund could start paying compensation to claimants after all, but that was restricted to 75 per cent. of the damage suffered on the part of any claimant; and, of course, what was material was the advice of the experts of the fund at the time that a payment was made. I believe that there was another intervention on the part of the Government which enabled a rather better arrangement to be made in the interim and a meeting was held at Milford Haven on 25th April, which was designed to take the matter further.
Lord Chesham: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving me notice of his question. As he stated, it is slightly outside the remit of the order. I do not have details of what happened after 25th April. However, I shall make him aware of whatever I may do at another time, if I may do so. I commend the order to the House.
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