HC Deb 22 June 1967 vol 748 cc1934-5
21. Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will instruct the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to disregard the payment of pensions when assessing compensation pending the results of his present inquiry into the scheme.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

It would not be appropriate to make a change of this kind while the matter is the subject of an appeal pending in the courts.

Mr. Ashley

If my right hon. Friend is not prepared to give that undertaking now, would he give the House an assurance that when his inquiries are conducted and completed there will be retrospective assessment of the cases already decided?

Mr. Jenkins

I cannot give my hon. Friend such an assurance. There would be considerable difficulties in retrospective assessment here, as there are in many other respects.

Mr. Dobson

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board is discriminating very badly against public servants, most of whom are in the front line of attack? Would he not agree that this would be a matter not of serious Parliamentary time but merely him changing his mind and placing an Order before the House?

Mr. Jenkins

There are certain difficulties. I am not unsympathetic to the difficulties which arise, but I think there is a possible anomaly between those who draw a public service pension and those who draw pensions from other sources. When the scheme was introduced it was made clear by the hon. Lady the Member for Malton (Miss Pike) that it was intended to deal with hardship and there should not be two payments from public sources. I am willing to look at the matter, although, as I have indicated, it is to some extent tied up with the report which I hope to have from a sub-committee of the Advisory Council on the Penal System on the whole subject of restitution.

Mr. Turton

Will the Home Secretary agree to reconsider his decision about current cases to see that he does not discriminate against widows and others who are at present suffering an injustice and who, unless he allows their cases to be considered, will continue to have unequal treatment?

Mr. Jenkins

I think the right hon. Gentleman will be aware on reflection that I was not making any announcement on this. I was merely not giving a firm undertaking.