HC Deb 24 November 1960 vol 630 cc1284-5
8. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that injustice results from the absence of effective compensation for victims of crimes of violence; and if he will take steps to provide such compensation out of a State fund which would be reimbursed by either lump sums or instalments to be paid as a statutory duty by the wrongdoer who causes the loss.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I expect shortly to receive the Report of the Working Party which has been considering the practical problems involved in any scheme for compensating the victims of crimes of violence. In the meantime, I am not in a position to make any further statement.

Mr. Hughes

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this represents a very long-standing problem awaiting attention? If there are specific objections to dealing with it immediately, will he specify them? Does he realise that the present crime wave makes this problem particularly urgent, as there are many pathetic cases awaiting attention?

Mr. Butler

If this were an easy matter we could proceed with it with more dispatch, but it raises very big problems which might impose a burden on a large section of the population.

Mrs. Castle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he told me last July that he was expecting to receive this report during the Recess, and that the delay is rather worrying? Will he give an assurance that when he receives the report he will not take so long to make up his mind about its provisions as the Committee has been in introducing them?

Mr. Butler

I sympathise with the comment about the delay. The reason for the delay is that the subject has become much more complicated than we had expected. I will try to acquaint the House of the progress we are making when I get the opportunity.

Mr. Ede

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. C. Johnson) is introducing a Private Member's Bill to deal with this topic? May we assume that we shall have co-operation from the right hon. Gentleman on this Bill?

Mr. Butler

I am in the process of examining the Bill, which I think is very interesting.