HC Deb 24 November 1994 vol 250 cc713-5
4. Ms Jowell

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to amend the tariff scheme for criminal injuries compensation following the appeal court's recent judgment.

Mr. Howard

The divisional court found that the introduction of the tariff scheme was not unlawful. By a majority, the Court of Appeal took a contrary view. The court granted leave to appeal to the House of Lords, and I intend to appeal. It would not be appropriate for me to comment further while the matter is before the courts.

Ms Jowell

May I press the Home Secretary on this matter? As the Court of Appeal has found the tariff scheme to be unlawful, will he listen to Lord Carlisle of Bucklow, who said in another place that the scheme would discriminate most unfairly against those with the worst injuries? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman reconsider the scheme and withdraw it immediately?

Mr. Howard

No, though it always pains me to disagree with the noble Lord. Our scheme is by far the most generous in the world. More than 40 per cent. of compensation for criminal injures paid across the world is paid in Britain. We pay more than the rest of Europe put together, more than the United States and, after the changes, our scheme will continue to be the most generous in the world.

Mr. Trimble

I appreciate the Home Secretary's reluctance to anticipate the House of Lords' decision. Will he, therefore, give an undertaking that, irrespective of that decision, he will introduce legislation to put the criminal injuries scheme on a statutory footing so that the House can scrutinise the details of the scheme and victims in England and Wales can have legal, enforceable rights?

Mr. Howard

That is my ultimate aspiration, but it would be sensible to see how the tariff scheme works in practice before introducing legislation of the kind to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

Mr. Straw

Will not the whole House applaud the unexpectedly perceptive insight of the Secretary of State when he said in September, Victims have had a raw deal"? Is it not time for the Secretary of State to recognise that the victims of crime have had the rawest deal of all from the Government? When will the right hon. and learned Gentleman admit that he is now making victims pay the price of his own inability to control the relentless rise in violent crime, and that by these shabby , changes, for which he has had no mandate at all, he has betrayed both the voters and the victims of crime?

Mr. Howard

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that everything he says on the subject is so much hot air. He resolutely refuses to say whether any future Labour Government—should there be one—would restore the criminal injuries compensation scheme. As to the relationship between the payment of compensation and violent crime, as I told the hon. Gentleman when we last discussed these matters, the facts are that since the introduction of the scheme in 1965 violent crime has increased by 500 per cent., the number of Criminal Injuries Compensation Board applications has increased by 3,000 per cent. and the average award has increased by 40,000 per cent., so there simply is not the correlation that lay behind the hon. Gentleman's question.

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