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The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I shall try to be extremely brief. It gives me great pleasure to move the draft Regulatory Reform (Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979) Order 2002 which was laid before the House on 29th April and to ask your Lordships to approve it.
Approval of this order will mark the final stages of the improvements to the vaccine damage payments scheme announced at the end of the review of the scheme. We have increased the payment for new cases to £100,000 and we have made around 900 top-up payments of between £58,000 to £68,000 to past recipients at a cost of over £60 million.
If the order is approved, it will amend the Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979 in two ways. It will extend the time limit for claiming a vaccine damage payment and reduce the degree of disability required to qualify for a payment so that more people will be eligible for it. It also makes arrangements for transitional claims.
I could extend my description of what these proposals do if your Lordships wish, but that may be enough. It is an entirely benign matter. As I say, it extends the time limit and it reduces the degree of disability down from 80 per cent to 60 per cent and makes appropriate transitional arrangements. If your Lordships are content with that information, I am happy to ask the House to approve the regulatory reform order.
Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I welcome the order. I wish to make a few points. It is interesting to note that two years have passed since we debated the contents of the order. Indeed, I believe that the Secretary of State made the original announcement on 27th June 2000. That announcement concerned the outcome of the review of the vaccine damage payments scheme which reported three years after the general election which brought in this Government. Therefore, five years after this Government came into power, these changes are finally being made. That does not diminish the importance of these amendments but it shows the time-scale involved which, I believe, is a regrettable one.
However, that said, I very much welcome the content of the order. I should like to ask the Minister about the retrospective nature of the order. Can those who fell outside the previous levels of disability now apply retrospectively? Will she explain the somewhat difficult terms in which the Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Committee of another place talked about applying the measure retrospectively in terms of whether or not people were 21 at the time of the original claim on the basis that that was outside the six-year time limit? I am sure that the Minister will be able to elucidate that point. Obviously, it is of great importance that people are able to claim retrospectively as far as possible. As I say, I welcome the order.
Lord Higgins: My Lords, the order before us has been studied by the Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Committee. I understand that that committee recommended various amendments to the drafting. Those amendments have been made. Therefore, from a technical point of view, I understand that the order is in good shape.
The order effectively does two things. It alters the time limit for claiming a vaccine damage payment and it reduces the degree of disability that is required. For those people who are unfortunate enough to be in a situation where they may need to claim, both those relaxations are clearly to be very much welcomed. We certainly welcome them.
I understand that the order allows for transitional claims to be considered from persons who had previously claimed unsuccessfully or who, in various specified circumstances, did not claim. It will put past claimants, or persons who might have claimed but were told that they would not succeed, in the same position as those who claim after the coming into force of the amendments to the Act made by the order. It seems to me that this is an entirely wise and benevolent measure. We on this side of the House certainly support it.
As regards dates and ages, the Act will provide that a claim must be made before whichever is the later of, first, the date on which the disabled person attains the age of 21, or, where he or she has died, the date on which he would have attained the age of 21, or, secondly, the end of the period of six years beginning with the date of the vaccination to which the claim relates. That is a more generous provision than the six-year period that currently exists.
The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, the regulations before us today are needed in order to make minor amendments to the European Union Extradition Regulations 2002. Those earlier regulations gave effect to the 1995 Convention on Simplified Extradition procedures between member states of the European Union and the 1996 Convention relating to Extradition between Member States of the European Union. Both conventions were designed to speed up and simplify extradition between EU partners and required amendments to the Extradition Act 1989 for full implementation.
The original regulations received parliamentary approval on 19th December 2001 and came into force on 20th March this year. They were made under the provisions of Section 111 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act and, therefore, these amendment regulations must be made under that same power.
The amendment regulations that I move today make two small changes to the original regulations. They are needed because there were two errors in the earlier regulations. The first of the two errors occurred in Schedule 9, paragraph 5 of the regulations, which introduced a new Section 14A to the 1989 Act. In new Section 14A(5), reference was made to,
Inadvertently the change that was made to a section of the 1989 Act was the one that affected incoming requests. The relevant subsections were both the subject of similar, complex amendments and similar in appearance even to experts, so this slipped by the busy proof-readers. Fortunately, no cases have been affected by this oversight but it is only right that the correction should be made to ensure that the extradition position process is as fast, fair and accurate as we can make it. Regulation 2(3) of this statutory instrument therefore omits the provision which was inserted in error, and Regulation 2(4) adds it to the correct provision, affecting outgoing requests.
Lord Goodhart: My Lords, of course I do not intend to object in any way to the correction of mistakes, but I should draw the attention of the House to a concern of mine about what has happened here. These mistakes are in fact mistakes in primary legislation because the regulations that are being amended were regulations that exercised a Henry VIII power to amend primary legislation.
Obviously, everybody must be well aware that the standard of drafting in secondary legislation is not always as high as it is in the case of primary legislation, but it does seem to me that particular care is needed in the case of the exercise of a Henry VIII power. I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord the Minister can tell me whether it is the normal practice, when a Henry VIII power is being exercised, to ask parliamentary counsel, who are after all the guardians of primary legislation, to look at amendments before they go into formal regulations and, if not, whether it would not be a good idea for that to be done in the future.
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