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The rollout strategy was published on 6 March and launched by the Home Secretary. It includes all the details in order of rollout. I will not go through all the details, but it starts with students in November 2008 and goes up to 2014 when about 90 per cent of people will be covered by the information.
The noble Baroness asked what will happen if people avoid the process and delay an application. We will be monitoring that to check for displacement. One of the points of the pilot is to see what impact that will have and how we might account for it in the future. That is a very good point. In the course of this, we hope that we will resolve how the problem affects us.
The noble Lord, Lord Roberts, asked about the problem of excluding students who come to this country. I can assure him that the Government see that as a very important issue. The numbers of people coming here are of great value to the global economy, as they are for our country. This is not to try to squeeze that and stop it; it is to ensure that we have only those people who are eligible to attendthose people whom we really want herethat people are not making multiple claims for benefits and that people are not trying to get other people in. The process would clarify those things; it is absolutely not to try to reduce the number of people who come here to our very good training and education institutions to do their various courses. We certainly are not trying to do that.
I am not aware of the number of personal interviews for passports. The noble Lord mentioned the figure of 73,000. Perhaps I may come back to him in writing on that as I am not clear on the exact figure. I would argue that the reason none has been refused is that, if you are a dodgy applicant, you would be wary of going along to an interview because you would be put through a process of being interviewed. It would be a stupid thing to do because you would be bowled out and you would be in a difficult position. That has been the impact. I would say that the process cuts out what I would call the dodgy applicants.
I have already touched on the offices and technology. This is the start of building up an office network. The applicants have to attend in person. Special arrangements can, if necessary, be made on a case-by-case basis to get people somewhere that might be more suitable to them. I do not have to hand the number of offices that there will be. Again, perhaps I can come back on that, but various centres around the UK will have all this technology. We are trying it at Croydon because the technology is currently there, we have people who are experts in it and we will be able to check this through on the pilot study. That will then transfer to the other places in November when we start issuing the documentation.
Lord Roberts of Llandudno: My Lords, I ask one question. The Isle of Skye, the Isle of Anglesey, which I know much better than the Isle of Skye, and north Pembrokeshire, for example, are remote areas. People there will not initially be called on to give their fingerprints. They will be able to take their photographs with a good video connection. Does that mean that the people of the rural areas will not be under such an obligation as people in, say, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen or even Llandudnothe people in the places where they have these offices? Will there be two tiers of people? The noble Lord will get my point, I am sureI am talking about people in the remote areas where this is a remote facility and those in the cities where it is a face-to-face facility.
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, I can be precise and say that that will not be the case. One rule will govern everyone. That is why I mentioned doing this case by case and getting people to a place where they will have their fingerprinting done. The aim is to have a single type of procedure that applies over the whole country to ensure that we have these biometric data.
The Box has corrected me on an issue that I got slightly wrong. Everyone will have to come in to check their fingerprints again, even if we have seen them before, as we need to reverify. I said that, if we had their fingerprints, we would be able to work on that, but they will have to come in and have them rechecked and reverified to ensure that identities have not been swapped, as was mentioned earlier.
The last assessment on the cost of the scheme was in November 2007 when, at 2007-08 prices, it was assessed to be £182 million from October 2007 to October 2017. This is being updated in the next ID card cost report, which I think comes out in June. The new figures will say what the cost is. I do not know whether there has been much change in that, but that is the rough figure. People involved in the pilot scheme will not have to pay anything. However, the total costs overall were estimated to be about £182 million for that 10-year period. As I said, the updated cost will come out in June this year.
As regards the safeguards to protect personal informationthis has been raised a number of times in the Housethere is no doubt that there have been some terrible slips. However, people are clear about how they should look after data. There are strict guidelines. We have to make absolutely certain that those guidelines are enforced and that people are more aware of them. I am afraid that in this modern day and age there is a need for keeping large amounts of data and centralising them. That enables things to work better and more efficiently and it helps to save costs. One sees it in big firms and corporations, but we all have to get much better at looking after those data, whether they are our own personal data or data on the grand scale.
There is no doubt that there are problems. Some of the personal information will be encrypted to make sure that it cannot be got at. There will be legal safeguards regarding how personal information is stored within the UKBA. There are instructions on how to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and there are issues to do with the Human Rights Act. We have looked very closely at this. Staff are already subject to security vetting. Access to the IT databases, including the UKBA database, is set so that staff have it only when they are required to do so to undertake their work.
We are making sure that all the right mechanisms are in place. I do not want to underestimate how important this is. One has to keep working at it to get it right because it is absolutely crucial. As I say, I am afraid that in this modern world of ours we need to have these data that enable us to bowl out crime and to pick up people who should not be here and criminals. It is interesting to note that the pilot scheme that we ran for the borders measure enabled
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In summary, I hope that I have answered most of the questions. If not, I shall come back to noble Lords. This is an integral part of enabling a successful rollout of identity cards for foreign nationals. The pilot scheme is extremely important because we do not want things happening such as occurred at Terminal 5. It is absolutely essential that we do run-throughs and make sure that we get these things right. It is part of our effort to improve the security of our borders and part of our wider national identity scheme. The pilot will help us to improve the technology and the processes involved when requiring foreign nationals to attend biometric registration. It will speed all that up and will assist with the main rollout from November 2008 when we start, as I say, to issue identity cards as the biometric immigration document issued under the UK Borders Act. We are determined to secure the UK borders. Identity cards for foreign nationals are a crucial step in fighting illegal immigration, in enabling those who are here legally to prove their identity, which helps them, and in preventing those who are here illegally from benefiting from all the privileges that they get from living in this wonderful country of ours. As such, I commend these regulations to the House.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, the purpose of my amendments is to highlight the Governments proposals for limiting compensation to those who have suffered a miscarriage of justice. When the provision in the Bill for Clause 61 was first announced, it was suggested that this would bring it in line with the compensation for the victims of crimes of violence. I declare a remote interest as a former member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board under the original scheme. The ethos of the compensation for the victims of criminal injuries is that the person who causes the injuries generally is in no position to pay any damages.
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As originally envisaged, that scheme was based on common law damages and a person who was the subject of an assault or more serious injury was entitled to recover damages assessed in the ordinary way. In 1992, a decision was taken to take that provision away and to have a statutory scheme which had a tariff attached to it: so much for a finger, so much for a leg, so much for this, that or the other. At that point I resigned from the board because I thought that that was an unfair scheme and a derogation of principle to depart from awarding a person ordinary common law damages. Notwithstanding my resignation, that scheme has continued since that time and over the years it has become subject to a limitation, the upper limit being £500,000.
The victims of miscarriages of justice are in a totally different position. The potential defendant in such a case is not a criminal who has caused injury so the state steps in, as a matter of social welfare, to assist the victim and the state has to carry the responsibility for the miscarriage of justice. In my experience, those miscarriages of justice can come from a variety of situations. They can arise because of perjured evidence by witnesses of fact but more often they are discovered as a result of failings in the forensic service or a failure by the prosecution to disclose things. A variety of issues can arise on appeal which results in a person being acquitted and becoming a recognised victim of a miscarriage of justice. The only body that could carry responsibility for that is the body that has imprisoned him, the body that has been responsible for a system of criminal justice which has broken down. Hence, where there is a compensation scheme for a victim of a miscarriage of justice, the victim recovers from the only body that can be held responsible for his imprisonment.
The Government are now introducing a cap on damageson compensationoriginally to make it equivalent to the compensation for victims of crimes of violence. That simply confuses two separate reasons for the state granting compensation. In some ways, the victim of a miscarriage of justice is in a worse position than someone who has received a physical injury, short of death, because when the person who has been locked up is eventually released by the Court of Appeal, what do they go back to? Generally, he or she is homeless and has lost his or her family; generally, the job has gone. In addition to all of that, during that period of imprisonment they may have suffered enormous psychological damage and, in many cases, psychiatric illness arising out of it.
It is not possible that there should be a limit where one could say, It has to be under £500,000 when,
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Our third objective is to remove from the Bill the limitation on loss of earnings. Under the Bill, a person who has been imprisoned for many years is entitled only to one-and-a-half times the average national wage by way of compensation for loss of earnings. It does not matter how high-flying he may have been in his profession or occupation, or what sort of opportunities for promotion he has missed, and so on; the claim is to be limited in that way. We submit that that is grossly unfair. We believe that with the scheme for compensating people, as originally envisaged and administered by the noble Lord, Lord Brennan, who, with all of his skilled expertise in personal injury cases has done a great deal for people who have been the victims of miscarriages of justice, there should be a maintenance of the present position.
Another matter causing concern about compensation is that your Lordships House decided that the scheme is such that someone must have the cost of board and lodging over their period of imprisonment deducted from their compensation by the state. It is, I respectfully suggest, an insult to have to pay for the period of imprisonment under what is to be recognised as a miscarriage of justice. That is a mean provision. It cannot come from principle, but only from a desire to save money. It comes directly from the Treasury; we oppose it absolutely wholeheartedly, and I hope that your Lordships will agree with what I have said.
Lord Bach: My Lords, before I turn to the government amendments in this group, I hope that it will assist the House if I attempt to respond to Amendment No. 86B, moved with great expertise by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. By that, I mean that he has great expertise in this field, which goes back many years, and I pay tribute to it.
Amendment No. 86B would remove the proposed £500,000 maximum compensation payment. The proposal in the Bill as it stands is to cap compensation at £500,000 following a miscarriage of justice. This would mean that maximum compensation paid by the state was the same as that paid to victims of crime under the criminal injuries compensation scheme. Of course we accept that the circumstances of victims of miscarriages of justice and victims of crime are different. That is also true of one victim of crime from another victim of crime or one victim of a miscarriage of justice from another victim of a miscarriage of justice. They are broadly analogous in that the impact on victims lives in terms of the damage and hardship suffered, whether physical, mental or both, can be devastating.
At the moment the difference in the compensation awarded can be stark. A victim of violent crime can
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Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, if the noble Lord is going to use that statistic, does he agree that claims on the compensation board amount to hundreds of thousands a year and that claims of victims who have suffered a miscarriage of justice amount to a handful of peopleperhaps 30 a year?
Lord Bach: My Lord, there is certainly a difference and of course I accept that. I understand that the average compensation paid goes a little way towards making the point I tried to make, but as it is an average it does not speak about every case.
It has been arguedit was hinted at tonightthat miscarriages of justice are always the fault of the state. It is for the state to compensate but it is not always the fault of the state, although it is at fault on occasion. Sometimes a complainant makes false allegations and is believed by both the prosecution and the jury. We all know of that having happened. Sometimes new techniquesDNA is the best exampleare developed that provide better and clearer evidence. There are cases where no blame at all can be attached to the prosecuting authorities for a conviction that is rightly quashed. In reality, in all cases whether or not the state is to blame, it has to pay the compensation. The same reality means that the state is responsible for compensating victims of crime as the people who commit offences are often what used to be described as men of straw in that they have no financial backing.
Such responsibility is right in a civilised country. There is nothing to stop someone seeking redress through the civil courts following a miscarriage of justice for, say, malicious prosecution, in the same way that a victim of crime can bring civil proceedings against the person who harmed him. I recognise that such a course, particularly an accusation of malicious prosecution, has many difficulties if one is to prove it. That is why we attempted to explain in Committee that the requirements for making an application for compensation under the miscarriage scheme operated by my right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor are much less onerous than making a civil claim through the courts, and rightly so.
For those reasons it is appropriate that compensation should be capped, but we acknowledge that some refinement of the £500,000 limit provided for in the Bill would be sensible. Government Amendment No. 86C in this group would increase the maximum payable from the current £500,000 in all circumstances to the same amount where the applicant has spent less than 10 years in relevant detention, and up to £1 million where the applicant
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I accept that the amendment would mean that there is no longer a straight read-across to compensation paid to victims of crime, where the limit is £500,000. It would none the less keep a link for most cases, while recognising that where, as a result of a miscarriage of justice, an applicant has spent as long as 10 years or more in prison, more compensation could be paid. Government Amendment No. 86E would enable both the £500,000 and £1 million limits to be altered by affirmative resolution of both Houses. Government Amendment No. 86F sets out in some detail the types and periods of detention that would be counted when calculating which caps should apply. Government Amendment No. 86G would ensure that the provision inserted by Amendment No. 86F extends to Northern Ireland. Finally, Amendments Nos. 115C, 115D and 115E make similar provision for compensation for miscarriages of justice in the Armed Forces.
I turn to Amendment No. 86D in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. This seeks to remove the cap on how much can be paid for lost earnings in any one year when the assessor is making an assessment. The pecuniary loss element of miscarriages of justice compensation awards is intended to compensate for such things as loss of earnings, loss of future earning capacity, loss of opportunity and loss of pension contributions. Its purpose until now has been, as far as it has been possible, to put the applicant back into the financial position that they would have been in but for the miscarriage of justice. Increasingly, applicants have submitted hugely complex and speculative claims. The assessor is left with the difficult task of determining the financial position an applicant would have been in had the miscarriage of justice not occurred, as against the position they thought, or even hoped they might have been in. Consequently, claims can, not unusually, take yearsnot monthsto sort out. On average, it takes three and a half years and, in several cases, over 10 years. Of course, they also cost a very large amount of money. I have evidence of a forensic accountants bill for £400,000. I am not saying that it related to a question of compensation for loss of earnings, but it is an example of how large these bills can be and what a long time they take to work out.
It is in everyones interest for these cases to be finalised as quickly as possible. This will be facilitated by a cap on the amount of compensation that can be awarded for any years lost earnings because it is likely that less evidence of loss will be required and will be easier to provide. Indeed, swifter resolutions will, perhaps, help some applicants to draw a line under what, in every case, is an unfortunate experience, to put it mildly, if they have been the victims of a miscarriage of justice, and to move on with their lives. The proposed limit is one and a half times the median gross annual earnings as published by the Office for National Statistics. Again, this is in line with what applies under the Criminal Injuries Compensation
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