HC Deb 20 October 1994 vol 248 cc445-77

Lords amendment: No. 125, insert the following new clause—Criminal Injuries Compensation(". In section 171 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988

  1. (a) in subsection (2), for the words after "any provision" there shall be substituted the words "brought into force under subsection (1) above,"; and
  2. (b) after subsection (2), there shall be inserted the following subsection—
"(2A) Sections 108 to 117 above and Schedules 6 and 7 to this Act shall come into force at the end of the period of six months beginning with the date on which the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 is passed.".")

4.23 pm
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Michael Howard)

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Madam Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to take Lords amendment No. 175.

Mr. Howard

The aim of the amendment is to require the Government to drop the tariff scheme for criminal injuries compensation, introduced on 1 April this year, which provides a simpler, faster and more easily understandable service for victims. The amendment would reinstate the old system by bringing into force the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 which would make the old criminal injuries compensation scheme statutory. Hon. Members will recall that the House firmly rejected a similar amendment to the Bill on Report in March.

Let me remind the House briefly of the background to the scheme, and why we changed it in the way that we did. The criminal injuries compensation scheme was introduced in 1964, following public concern that something should be done for the innocent victims of violent crime. The scheme was a new and experimental venture and, after alternative options had been considered, it was decided that compensation should be assessed on the basis of common law damages, since that made use of existing legal expertise. The level of demand was unknown—although I suspect that it is fair to say that no one foresaw an operation on anything like the scale that we see today.

Madam Speaker

Order. It was remiss of me not to mention that this amendment involves privilege.

Mr. Howard

As the House knows, provision was made in the Criminal Justice Act 1988 for the old scheme to be made statutory, but those provisions were not brought into force. First, my right hon. and noble Friend, Lord Carlisle of Bucklow, who was and is the chairman of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, requested a postponement so that the board could concentrate its efforts on dealing with the large backlog of unresolved cases. Shortly afterwards, it became increasingly evident that the old scheme needed fundamental revision.

When the old scheme was introduced 30 years ago, the level of crime—not just in this country, of course—was much lower than it is today. In the first full year of the scheme, 1965-66, there were just 2,500 claims, 1,164 awards were made and a total of £400,000 was paid in compensation.

Since then, the increase in expenditure on compensation has been relentless. Twenty years ago, in 1973-74, the board received 12,000 claims, made 9,000 awards and paid out £4 million—still a modest amount by current standards. Ten years ago, in 1983-84, there were 32,000 new applications, 21,000 awards and a total of £33 million was paid out in compensation. By last year, however, there were 73,000 new applications, 41,000 awards and £165 million was paid in compensation.

That increase in expenditure was not merely a result of the increase in the number of claims. During the past 10 years, average awards have increased by 5 per cent. a year more than inflation, almost doubling in real terms since 1979.

If the old scheme had continued, by the turn of the century, the annual cost of compensation would have been in excess of £500 million. That rate of growth is simply not sustainable; nor do I think it appropriate for a state scheme funded by the taxpayer. Those rapidly escalating costs—

Mrs. Barbara Roche (Hornsey and Wood Green)

In the light of what the Home Secretary has just told the House, will he and the Government come absolutely clean with the public and admit what they have never admitted before— that the whole purpose of the changes to the scheme is to save money? The changes have absolutely nothing to do with offering a better service to the victims of crime.

Mr. Howard

The hon. Lady is wrong on at least two counts. First, it is not true that we denied that savings played an important part in the decision. They are not the only reason, because we have other important reasons, but savings are one reason and they are an important one, so the hon. Lady is wrong on that count. She is also wrong to suggest that savings are the only reason. Her protestations would carry a little more weight if those on the Opposition Front Bench had undertaken—when it was suggested to them on the last occasion that we discussed such matters on the Floor of the House—to reinstate the old scheme if they ever found themselves in government. They have consistently refused to give that undertaking, and without it the hon. Lady's protestations and those of her hon. Friends carry no weight.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Excuse me for intervening for the first time during the Bill. I have received representations on the question of criminal injuries from the Law Society of Scotland, where the law is a little different. I am not asking the Home Secretary to answer off the top of his head what are, frankly, complex representations. Because of the differences in Scottish law, all I ask is that the subject is dealt with. Can we tell the society that there will be reflections on its very real concerns?

Mr. Howard

I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has had the concerns of the Law Society of Scotland drawn to his attention, as I have had drawn to my attention the concerns of the Law Society for England and Wales. I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend will address those concerns in what he regards as the most appropriate way.

The rapidly escalating costs highlight the stark fact that the old scheme offered no mechanism for exercising any control over costs. That was not the fault of the board. It was simply charged with administering the scheme—a job it has managed with considerable credit. Also, of course, in earlier years, when costs were relatively small, the need for control was not so apparent, but the rapid growth in expenditure on the scheme in recent years makes change imperative so that costs can be brought under control.

4.30 pm

Let me stress here just how generous our scheme is. It is by far the most generous anywhere in the world. In the most recent year for, which comparative figures are available, Great Britain paid out £165 million in compensation; France paid out £27 million, and Germany just £7 million. In fact, we pay out far more compensation than all the other European countries added together. We even paid out more last year than the United States of America—not more per head, but more in total—despite the fact that the United States has, of course, a vastly greater population, a much higher gross national product, much more violent crime and a very active victim support lobby.

The tariff scheme will remain one of the most generous anywhere. Under the new scheme, 60 per cent. of beneficiaries will get as much as or more than they would have done under the old scheme.

Mr. Jonathan Evans (Brecon and Radnor)

Does my right hon. and learned Friend concede that one of the failures of the present scheme is the inordinate delay in making payments to the victims of crime? When I was in practice, a matter of two years' delay was in no sense an exception and, as a constituency Member of Parliament, a case was brought to my attention recently of a delay of seven years in making payments. Will not the move to a tariff system ensure that we produce sums of money for victims more quickly than now?

Mr. Howard

My hon. Friend raises an important point, to which I shall come in just a moment—indeed, even sooner than that.

Having pointed out that 60 per cent. or more of beneficiaries would get as much or more under the new scheme as under the old, I wish to add precisely the point made by hon. Friend; they will get their money more quickly. Of course it is true—I do not seek to hide the fact—that some people will get less. But most awards are comparatively small, and the vast majority are under £5,000.

Mr. David Sumberg (Bury, South)

I appreciate that, if 60 per cent. of beneficiaries will get the same, 40 per cent. will get less. That worries me, in the sense that they will be the headline cases. Will my right hon. and learned Friend address—either now or later in his speech—the proposal from the Law Society which would deal with smaller claims on a tariff basis, but which would perhaps avoid the dangers that I have mentioned with the big claims?

Mr. Howard

I shall deal with my hon. Friend's point now. If he will permit me to correct him, it is not true that 60 per cent. of claimants will get the same. Sixty per cent. of claimants will get the same or more, and many will indeed get more.

The scheme to which my hon. Friend refers and which was advanced by the Law Society is a hybrid one, which would provide a tariff for relatively small claims, and the same kind of scheme as we have at the moment for larger claims. It would involve endless difficulties at the demarcation line and endless challenges from those who felt that they were being hard done by because their claim was being dealt with under the tariff and not on the basis of compensation.

We have looked carefully at the possibility of such a hybrid scheme, but I must tell my hon. Friend that the practical difficulties which it would involve would be insurmountable.

Dr. Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

I always understood that it was Conservative policy that we should aspire to the very best and not reach for the lowest common denominator. Why does that principle not apply in this case?

Mr. Howard

It does not apply for the reasons that I have given. There is no question of going for the lowest common denominator, and I am afraid that the hon. Lady's question bears no relationship to the realities of the issues before us.

Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)

The report of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for the year ending 31 March 1992 referred to four cases in which people received payments in excess of £500,000—awards of £689,000, £645,000, £568,000 and £521,000. They obviously involved serious cases, and were perhaps exceptional.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend telling the House, however, that, with the introduction of the new tariff scheme, in that kind of case, where the individual has probably lost all opportunity ever to pursue his lawful occupation again, the person would have to rely on the tariff payment and the available state benefits to top up benefit received, rather than on the payments that he would have received under the old scheme? Can my right hon. and learned Friend clarify that point?

Mr. Howard

My hon. Friend has left out one important factor—there is, of course, the ceiling of £250,000 under the new scheme. In addition to that, a number of other payments and a number of other sources of help are available. For example, one of the elements that is taken into account when deciding compensation in serious cases is the provision of private health care for someone who suffered a serious injury, but the health care provided by the national health service is always available to that individual.

My hon. Friend also referred, quite correctly, to all the other state benefits that are available and which will continue to be available. It is also important to bear in mind occupational benefits, which now assume such an important significance and will, of course, continue to be available.

It is important to remember that, under the present scheme, an offset operates in relation to occupational benefits and the awards made. Some of the figures that are cited, which seem to demonstrate that large losses will be suffered as compared to the awards made under the old scheme, do not tell the whole story. All the factors I have listed must be taken into account.

It is also not entirely irrelevant to remember that some of the apparently worst cases would arise in respect of people who have high incomes, and therefore high loss of earnings claims. It is not unreasonable to suggest that someone with high earnings is in a position to make provision of his own for the kind of contingency that we are discussing. Additional help is available in a number of different ways, some of which were identified by my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby).

Mr. David Trimble (Upper Bann)

I should like to take up the right hon. and learned Gentleman's final point about the large sums of compensation that are often paid to people with high earnings. Such people often also have high liabilities. If a ceiling is put on the amount of compensation paid, does he accept that one will inevitably encounter cases where the amount of compensation paid will be much below the loss the person has suffered and possibly also below his commitments? Does he accept that that will cause grave financial hardship to that person? Such cases may be rare, but they will inevitably occur. If the Government stick to the tariff system, they are committing themselves to committing serious injustices to some people.

Mr. Howard

I simply do not accept that it will lead to injustice. In the rare cases of injury to people with high earnings, they will know that if they suffer some accident through no one's fault—so they are unable to establish a claim of negligence—and which is not the result of any criminal act, they could find themselves in a serious financial position. We could all have an accident at any time that stopped us from working for the rest of our lives. People with high earnings—the category that we are currently discussing—know that it is possible for them to make provision against such a contingency. Just as it is reasonable to expect them to make provision for such a contingency in respect of accidental injury, so it is reasonable also to expect them to make a provision in respect of an injury that results from a criminal attack, rather than expect the taxpayer to underwrite the consequences of that contingency.

That is what we are talking about. We are not talking about a situation in which everyone, whatever the source of their misfortune and whatever the source of the contingency that places him or her in that difficulty, is automatically entitled to compensation in every respect from the taxpayer. That is why, with all due respect to the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble), I do not accept that the change that we are making leads to injustice.

Mr. John Gunnell (Morley and Leeds, South)

The Home Secretary was saying that people on high incomes would have made provision, presumably through some sort of occupational scheme, for such a contingency. However, in this case we are discussing criminal injury, so the fact that someone could be injured through other mechanisms is not relevant in this case. Would not the age at which that injury occurs make a significant difference to the extent to which the provision is effective? Will not a significant number of people with serious problems be gravely affected and their resources gravely reduced by the changes which the Home Secretary is introducing?

Mr. Howard

In almost all cases, people in that position will have occupational benefits—usually substantial occupational benefits. Those are what they should look to in the first instance for compensation, and I believe that they will do so. If that factor is taken into account, the complaint about the provisions of the new scheme is seen, on examination, to have much less substance than seems to be the case at first sight.

I now turn to the other main reason for reform. Hon. Members may recall that the Home Affairs Committee, in its 1990 report on the administration of the board, was highly critical of delays in the processing of claims. Undoubtedly, one reason for that was the enormous increase in business, which swallowed up the considerable staff increases made at the board. Staff numbers had more than doubled between 1978-79 and 1988-89, to a total of 312. The figure has since increased to no less than 460, and that does not include the 44 members of the board.

Assuming that numbers of claims continue to grow, we could only expect further massive staff increases and corresponding increases in administrative costs to run the old scheme. The alternative would be ever-lengthening delays. I do not think that the House would regard either option as acceptable.

Mr. Peter Butler (Milton Keynes, North-East)

I echo the experience of my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Evans) concerning delays. When I was in practice, delays of two years were considered not to be delays but swiftly-dealt-with applications. Worse, the Opposition seem to think that the present scheme is not far short of perfection. It is not. It is exceedingly flawed, as my right hon. and learned Friend says.

One of the flaws is that the scheme was arbitrary in its application, so that someone with a previous conviction—I recall a case in which the person was convicted 15 years previously and had never reoffended—could still be ruled out of the scheme and receive nothing when, for 15 years, he or she had been a perfectly respectable member of the community. That effect needs to be remembered.

The scheme was not good and had to be changed, and I commend the changes.

Mr. Howard

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The point that he raises is right.

Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)

May I correct one inaccuracy in the intervention of the hon. Member for Milton Keynes (Mr. Butler), for the benefit of the Home Secretary? There is no suggestion from this side of the House that the present scheme cannot be improved. We have always argued for change, in respect both of speeding up judgments and of making them more consistent. Our argument is simply that the cut in the availability of compensation to victims of the most horrendous crimes does not have to come with that improvement in the scheme.

4.45 pm
Mr. Howard

The hon. Gentleman failed to give the undertaking to which I referred in answering a question from his hon. Friend earlier in our proceedings.

Notwithstanding what I have just said about how the board deals with claims, its efficiency has improved considerably with increasing use of information technology and streamlined management procedures. But the very terms of the old scheme—being based on common law damages—militated against more speedy resolution of cases. As a result of its complexities, a small industry has grown up around the scheme, in which ever more subtle calculations and fine judgments about medical prognoses are produced by applicants' lawyers or other representatives, engaging the board in equally time-consuming labour.

I do not believe that that was the vision of the scheme's originators, or that it works to the general benefit of those the scheme is meant to help—the victims of crime. What is needed is a simple, user-friendly service that gets the money to the beneficiaries as quickly as possible and enables them to put the incident behind them and get on with their lives. That is exactly what the tariff scheme aims to do.

Our White Paper, which was published last December, explained that there is no objectively "right" sum of money which can compensate an individual for the pain and hurt suffered as a result of criminal injury. Under the tariff scheme, therefore, we are not aiming to provide finely judged "compensation", in the sense of trying, in some way, to put the victim back in the position that he or she would have been in had the attack not taken place. Instead, we are providing a lump sum payment—and a generous one—in tangible recognition of society's concern for the blameless victim of a crime of violence.

Under the tariff scheme, therefore, victims with comparable injuries will be treated in the same way. They will have a good idea in advance of how much compensation they are likely to get. That was far from the case under the old scheme. It gives the tariff scheme the advantages of simplicity and transparency. It will be easier for victims to understand, and simpler and less expensive to administer. Nevertheless, as the tariff levels have been based on nearly 20,000 recent awards made by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, they reflect what actually happened in practice under the old common law damages scheme.

Mr. Neil Gerrard (Walthamstow)

The Home Secretary is explaining the simplicity of the scheme from his point of view. Will he explain how often and under what circumstances he expects the level of the tariffs to be uprated? Clearly, with inflation they will lose their value. What will be the basis for uprating the tariffs?

Mr. Howard

The hon. Gentleman asks a perfectly fair question, with which I shall deal towards the end of my remarks this afternoon. I accept that that matter has given rise to some concern.

We have left the basic rules for eligibility largely unchanged, so anyone who might have expected an award under the old scheme should be eligible under the new tariff scheme.

I must emphasise that we are not in the business of change for its own sake. We recognise what is valuable and do not lightly alter it. We have changed the scheme because it was essential to do so.

We are sure that our new tariff scheme is the right way forward, but, as we made clear on several occasions previously, we shall monitor its working very closely. Its terms are not immutable. We shall continue to listen to the views of responsible people and practitioners and, if the scheme can be refined or improved in the light of experience, we shall not hesitate to make the necessary changes.

I was just asked by the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard) what the arrangements are for reviewing the tariff bands. As I have said, we shall keep all aspects of the tariff scheme under review, but I can tell the House—this point has given rise to particular concern on the part of my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby)—that our intention is to review the tariff bands every three years.

I also assure the House that, once the new scheme has settled down and any necessary adjustments or refinements have been made, we shall aim to put it on a statutory basis as soon as a suitable legislative opportunity occurs. But we must of course first be satisfied that the scheme is working as effectively as possible.

Finally, I stress again that reversion to the old scheme, which is what this amendment seeks to achieve, is simply not a viable option. No responsible Government can allow a situation to continue in which costs grow so rapidly and in a way that cannot be checked.

For all those reasons, I invite the House to reject the amendment.

Mr. Michael

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Before responding to the Home Secretary, I want to refer to something that arose after he had begun his speech. I was amazed to hear the suggestion that we are dealing with a matter of privilege. Surely that cannot be. It involves no change to spending under the existing scheme and under existing legislation, so there cannot be any question of additional spending. The Government want to cut spending without the support and scrutiny of the House.

There is a question whether the Government's action is legal. Permission has been given for judicial review of the Home Secretary's actions. I appreciate that it would be convenient for the Government if the matter were to be dealt with under privilege, but there has been no previous suggestion of that during our many months of debate and in the long period during which there has been notice of the likelihood of the matter being referred back by the House of Lords.

Obviously, it is impossible to deal with the matter fully and to challenge the ruling on the hoof. I simply give notice of our belief that the ruling that it is a matter of privilege should be set aside. We want to put forward reasoned arguments on that point at the earliest possible opportunity.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris)

The advice that I have received is that the House authorities advise that Lords amendment No. 125 raises questions of common privilege because the legal position under the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which activates the statutory scheme by order, is proposed to be changed so that the scheme comes directly into force. An option to spend money is replaced by an obligation. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would like to reflect on that. I am happy to give him a copy of that ruling. I hope that he will now respond to the Home Secretary's opening speech.

Mr. Michael

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This is the first opportunity we have had to hear that explanation. I believe that the ruling is open to challenge and argument, and we shall seek to do that in the most appropriate way. We will seek guidance on how to do it outside the debate, so that we do not delay it further.

The motion illustrates better than anything else the deep hypocrisy at the heart of the Conservative party—a party led by a Prime Minister and a Home Secretary who are ready to pay lip service to the claims of victims and to cry crocodile tears, while being willing to conspire to slash the level of compensation available to the victims of the most vicious and disabling crimes of violence.

The Home Secretary claims that the Government are acting in the interests of victims. He says that the present system involves delay and that a tariff system will speed up the payment of cash to victims. That is a lame attempt to stave off criticism. It should not be beyond the wit of a half-competent Minister to devise a scheme that pays out quickly on simple cases but allows fair and generous settlements when the injury and loss are great. Ending delay gives no excuse for the cut.

Let us consider the scale of opposition from, and outrage felt by, those who have first-hand knowledge of the way in which the cut will damage those whose lives have already been devastated by violent crime, and then let us consider the impact on real people. The opposition to the cut includes the House of Lords, the Police Federation, the Royal College of Nursing, the Fire Brigades Union and the Law Society, not to mention Victim Support and the chairman of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.

Why will Ministers not listen to that mass of informed and authoritative opinion? Let us listen to the strength of that authoritative opinion. In the debate in the other place on 2 March, Lord Carlisle, the chairman of the CICB, said that, in the board's unanimous view, the proposed tariff scheme was fundamentally flawed, manifestly unfair and a retrograde step.

Victim Support described the changes as hasty and ill thought out. Its director said on 23 February: We are shocked at what Government is proposing. Many people will lose out significantly in future. I find it amazing that the Government can introduce such sweeping changes having taken no external advice. We are calling on the Government to suspend their plans and instigate a proper review of the way in which victims are compensated for violent crime. Did the Government listen? Did they institute a proper review? Did they open their proposals to objective scrutiny? No, they did not.

Let us consider the actual impact on real individuals. I ask hon. Members on both sides to remember that the pain of such incidents of violence—which often devastate a life for ever—is invisible and unreal until the victim is someone you know and love, or even yourself. The first case I shall cite is that of a London Underground booking clerk who was the victim of armed robbery twice in the space of seven days. In the first, a gun was pointed directly at him. In the second, five shotgun and pistol rounds were fired during the robbery. The man was unable to return to work and he lost his job. He is now in low-paid employment.

As a side issue, a complicating factor was that the man had been present at the King's Cross fire disaster, and was therefore already suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. However, it was the two armed robberies that caused his retirement. The claim was finalised a few weeks ago with an award of £73,000. Under the new tariff scheme, he would have been awarded £7,500—one tenth of the present award. Independent research shows that the changes proposed by the Government would involve many victims losing by many thousands of pounds.

I shall give two further examples. The first is a female psychiatric nursing sister aged 35 at the date of the hearing. She was assaulted by a patient and suffered extensive injury. She was assessed as 15 per cent. disabled for life and unfit for any work. The award, including an assessment for loss of future earnings and the future cost of home help, was £126,943. Under the Home Secretary's proposal, she would get just £5,000.

The second case is that of a male police officer aged 34 at the time of the award. He was assaulted and sustained serious back injuries. He was unable to sit, stand or walk for long periods, and he was unable to carry out heavy tasks involving lifting or carrying. He retired on a medical pension. He was awarded £121,000 to cover loss of future earnings. Under the Government's proposal, he would get just £7,500.

We are facing a treble whammy. We are hit by crime, which has doubled under this Government—

Mr. Howard


Mr. Michael

I shall just finish the point, as I think it is one to which the Home Secretary might well wish to respond. As I said, we are hit by crime, which has doubled under this Government; we now have to pay VAT on home and car insurances, which have shot up to cover the cost of crime; and now the Government want to steal compensation from the victims of some of the most violent and horrific crimes. I am happy to allow the Home Secretary to intervene to respond to that point.

Mr. Howard

The hon. Gentleman must not convey a misleading impression. It is quite wrong to suggest, for example, that the police officer in the case that he quoted would be limited to £7,500 compensation under the scheme—assuming that to be the right figure. He would be entitled to his average pensionable pay plus a gratuity of five times the amount of his annual pensionable pay. Therefore, he would have a gratuity of five times his annual pensionable pay and a pension of 85 per cent. of his annual pensionable pay. It would be quite wrong to give the impression that the police officer would be left with £7,500 alone.

Similar points can be made about the other examples the hon. Gentleman cited. Serious issues are at stake relating to this change, and it would be wrong to deal with them on the basis of a wholly misleading impression, which is what the hon. Gentleman is trying to convey.

Mr. Michael

The Home Secretary well knows that I am not conveying a misleading impression. I am comparing the figures that are available under the current system with what would apply if the Home Secretary has his way. I want to bring to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's attention the comments of a police officer who bravely agreed to join me to publicise the effect of the change on any of his colleagues who might share his experience—not because he wants to support us or to make a political point, but because he is concerned about his colleagues who will be damaged if they have experiences similar to his. He said that nothing could bring back his health or the job he loved or, indeed, the opportunity to participate in sport, which had been very important in his life; but he doubted whether he could have survived the last couple of years if he had not had the level of criminal injury compensation that was awarded to him under the present scheme. That is accurate, and it is the argument that we are advancing. I noticed that the Home Secretary did not seek to respond to my accusation that the Government had given us a treble whammy.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

My hon. Friend has spoken of the 40 per cent. of people who are likely to lose under the Government's scheme. That figure has not been challenged by the Home Secretary or anyone else. If anyone is dissatisfied with the tariff settlement that he or she is offered under the Government's scheme, is there any right of appeal to an independent organisation with a right to vary any tariff offer?

5 pm

Mr. Michael

That is the problem. As I said, it should not be beyond the wit of a half-competent Minister to come up with a system that includes the benefits of a tariff—preferably better calculated than the one offered—and also enables specific circumstances to be taken into account, either immediately or on appeal. My hon. Friend is right. The Home Secretary could hardly deny the extent to which people will lose. Within the 40 per cent. of people who would lose as a result of the Government's new scheme would be those victims of the most horrific attacks and those on whom the effect of the change would be the most devastating.

In view of the Home Secretary's intervention, I should say that, under the old scheme, in the case I mentioned, even after the victim's pension is deducted from his earnings loss, the total of past and future loss is more than ten times the award under the new scheme. That is the honest answer, and I hope that the Home Secretary will review his figures and the facts in the case.

The Lords amendment brings into force the criminal injuries compensation scheme contained in section 171 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. It ensures that the current scheme is made statutory, and it throws out the Government's proposed scheme.

The Government's proposal replaces a scheme based on individual assessment of the loss to the victim with one based on a crude tariff. Unlike the current system, the new scheme will make no allowance for the victim's loss of earnings, medical expenses or structural changes to his or her house necessitated by the injury—we should remember the horrendous nature of some of the injuries. But those elements are vital for a fair system of compensation.

Other examples abound. An attack left a victim with a brain injury requiring continuous care day and night. Under the present system, the compensation is £500,000; under the new proposals it would be just £40,000. The new scheme would remove the dependency award in fatal cases, which would result in greatly reduced compensation for some families who have suffered a bereavement. For example, the woman with two children who saw her husband dying on her doorstep after a stabbing received £137,000 in 1993; under the Government's proposals she would receive just £17,500, which is outrageous.

It is precisely those victims who suffer the worst injuries who will be most heavily penalised under the new proposals. The Government are letting down those victims and the public, and, in addition, they are letting down public servants such as police officers, nurses and firefighters, who risk so much in our service and who will be shoddily treated if the Government get their way.

The Home Secretary should recognise, even at this late stage, that the new scheme is misguided, and should withdraw his opposition to the Lords amendment. That would still allow him to bring forward changes, but would allow him to seek the approval of this House and the other place for changes, which might then constitute improvements rather than the undermining of an important element of the scheme.

Mr. Howard

I do not know how near the hon. Gentleman is to the end of his remarks, and I may have misjudged the timing of my intervention, but I hope that he will not sit down without saying whether or not his party is prepared to give an undertaking to restore the old scheme if it ever becomes the Government of this country.

Mr. Michael

The Home Secretary did not misjudge the timing of his intervention, but its nature, as well as the nature of the change that he is trying to introduce. The Home Secretary knows that it would be foolish for an Opposition Member to anticipate the state of legislation and the disastrous state of the economy that the Government will leave us. We look forward to that day with trepidation, but we shall also take on the challenge with pride when the Government finally leave office.

It comes as no surprise that the Government have proposed a scheme without consulting any agency that deals with victims, and that none of those agencies supports it. The Government did not even consult the chairman of the criminal injuries compensation scheme, Lord Carlisle, who stated in another place: I turn to my other criticism"— it was only one of his criticisms— that it is being brought in without any attempt at consultation. I find that extraordinary. The board which has been responsible for running the scheme for 30 years was not consulted in any way before the decision of principle to change the basis of compensation was taken. I was asked to go and see the then Home Secretary"— the current Chancellor— and was informed that he would be announcing his decision to Parliament the following day. It is a pity that the present Home Secretary did not allow his predecessor to take the proposal with him. Perhaps the reason for that is that his predecessor refuses to allow him enough money to run his Department—but that is a matter of misery within the Government, rather than a matter for us.

It is not surprising that, having omitted to consult anyone who works with victims, the Government have proposed a scheme that is so fundamentally misconceived. Their true reason for doing so is to save money. Of course we all want value for money, but it is not acceptable to save money at the expense of the most vulnerable victims of crime.

When we last discussed the matter, on 28 March, the Home Secretary quoted two figures. He said that, since 1987-88, there had been only a 50 per cent. increase in the number of applications, but a threefold increase in compensation. In a devastating analysis in another place, Lord Carlisle showed that, allowing for inflation, the average award in 1993-94 prices in 1988 was £3,486. In March this year, the average was £3,778—hardly a massive increase. Similarly revealing is Lord Carlisle's assessment of the Home Secretary's claim that, since 1965-66, applications under the scheme had risen by 27 per cent. but compensation had risen by 378 per cent.

Lord Carlisle said: If instead of comparing applications we compare the number of cases, and if we take into account the tenfold reduction in the value of money in that period, we find that on their calculation the average award in 1965 was £3,458 and it is £3,778 today, which is something less than a 10 per cent. increase in a period of 29 years. Not only is the proposed scheme misguided and mean-spirited: it is contrary to our international obligations. The Home Secretary made great play of international comparisons, but the European convention on compensation for victims of violent crime, to which Britain is a signatory, states: Compensation shall cover … loss of earnings, medical and hospitalisation expenses and funeral expenses, and as regard dependants, loss of maintenance".

There are, in addition, profound concerns about the manner in which the Government have sought to change the scheme. As I said in a point of order, that matter is before the courts. Suffice it to say that the Government decided not to implement section 171 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which would have put the present scheme on a statutory basis. Instead, they sought to introduce the changes by prerogative power, which led Lord Ackner to say in another place: Some may think that it bears the hallmark of elective dictatorship.

Lord Carlisle said: What is Parliament's purpose if one can commend one action to Parliament and then decide to do something totally different without going back to Parliament for approval?"—[Official Report, House of Lords, 16 June 1994; Vol. 555, c. 1836, 1834, 1829, 1835.]

Whatever the arguments about the way that the scheme was introduced, the Government's proposals to change the scheme will drastically affect those who are most seriously injured in criminal attacks. Surely that cannot be right. Neither the Government nor the Conservative party will ever again be able to claim concern for the victims of crime in future when they are treating them so callously today. No Conservative Members of Parliament will be able to claim an interest in victims in their speeches or election material if they vote to disagree with the Lords amendment today.

No Conservative Member of Parliament who speaks of the sad case of a constituent who has a miserable life as a result of an inadequate level of compensation will have any credibility in the House if he or she votes to disagree with the Lords amendment today. I warn Conservative Members to bear that in mind if compassion and common sense fail alone fail to persuade them to join us in voting against the disgraceful motion to disagree.

Mr. Shersby

I wish to declare an interest, in that I am a parliamentary adviser to the Police Federation of England and Wales and also president of Uxbridge Victim Support.

I have taken a close interest in criminal injuries compensation and raised the matter in an Adjournment debate on 18 March 1993 when I first became aware, as a result of discussions with Lord Carlisle of Bucklow, that changes were afoot. I shall read a short extract from the reply given by the then Minister of State, Home Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack). He said: It is important to take some time to explain the conceptual change in the nature of the new scheme"— the tariff scheme. He went on: Many people will accept that no amount of money can fully or properly compensate people for criminal injury, and that it is perhaps unrealistic to believe otherwise. There is no such thing as an 'absolute' or 'right' figure for the hurt suffered. Awards under common law damages are necessarily subjective, not objective. Even the courts are sometimes accused of inconsistency in the awards they make."—[Official Report, 18 March 1993; Vol. 221, c.506.] That was an interesting statement which revealed the Minister's thinking on this important issue.

My concern is not only for police officers who are members of the Police Federation but for many other people who suffer criminal injuries and are left severely disabled. One of my concerns about changing the system is whether the tariff scheme would take account of an individual's loss of earnings if he or she were not able to work again. In my discussions with the present Minister of State, Home Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean) and other Ministers at the Home Office, I have been given the impression that the tariff level established at the inception of the proposed new scheme took account of loss of earnings, but perhaps my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, or whoever winds up the debate, will confirm that. It is essential that any compensation scheme should take account of an individual's loss of earnings.

My second worry about the proposed change is that the level of payments under the tariff scheme would inevitably be whittled away by the effects of inflation, although inflation is very low at the moment, which is to be welcomed. I pressed my right hon. and learned Friend on this matter and was grateful that, in response to the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard), he announced today that the tariff bands would be reviewed every three years. That is at least a step in the right direction and it means that we shall not be saddled with a scheme under which the value of compensation is whittled away over time.

Any hon. Member reflecting on what the Home Secretary has said today and what he said on 28 March 1994 has to recognise the burden placed on the Exchequer by the costs of the present compensation scheme. My right hon. and learned Friend said: We estimate that, without reform, the annual cost of the present arrangements could be in the region of £500 million by the end of the decade. Under the new tariff scheme, the cost is likely to be about £250 million—still a very large sum by the standards of any other state scheme."—[Official Report, 28 March 1994; Vol. 240, c. 686.]

Like any responsible hon. Member, I have to consider the cost of any scheme instituted to pay criminal injuries compensation. I and many others realise that a scheme instituted 30 years ago, in circumstances very different to those prevailing today, cannot necessarily remain unchanged. Were it to do so, the costs would rise enormously. If we are to stay with the existing scheme and make it statutory, as the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) suggests, it is incumbent on us to state how it is to be financed in the future. The only way that it could continue to be financed is by a reordering of priorities in terms of total Government expenditure. Anyone who wishes a scheme to continue without regard to cost must be prepared to propose changes in priorities. [Interruption.] It is all very well for the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth to mutter, but that is the truth.

5.15 pm
Mr. Michael


Mr. Shersby

I shall give way a little later.

Mr. Michael


Mr. Shersby

I shall give way if the hon. Gentleman wishes to make an important point that he believes cannot wait.

Mr. Michael

The hon. Gentleman is trying to provoke a response. The Government have presided over massive increases in the levels of crime, just as they have presided over massive increases in unemployment which have had a great impact on Government expenditure. The hon. Gentleman should remember that he is a Tory Back Bencher and that it is his Government who have caused many of the problems.

Mr. Shersby

If I may say so, that was a rather poor intervention and not worthy of the hon. Gentleman. Crime—especially burglary—in the area that I represent has fallen substantially in the past year as a result of excellent policing of the area.

Mr. Michael

indicated dissent.

Mr. Shersby

Yes, it has. It has fallen significantly because of Operation Bumblebee. Unemployment across the country is also falling steadily every month. That is my response to the hon. Gentleman's rather stupid intervention, which was hardly worthy of a Front-Bench spokesman.

Mr. Michael Stephen (Shoreham)

My hon. Friend and I have been here since April 1992. In that time, has my hon. Friend heard anything from the Opposition parties spokesmen that would lead him to suppose that their policies would result in a reduction in crime or in unemployment?

Mr. Shersby

I can answer my hon. Friend easily—I have not.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Shersby

No, I shall not give way at the moment.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary referred to the ability of individuals, especially those with higher incomes, to insure against criminal injuries. It is an interesting point, but perhaps he will tell the House whether the average accident policy covers criminal injuries or whether it would be necessary for individuals to take out a special policy. I wonder whether the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) would have been covered had he suffered an even more serious injury than that which he unhappily experienced as a result of what happened outside the House last night. If my right hon. and learned Friend is to rely on private accident insurance, it must be clear beyond all doubt that such insurance is available at a price that people can readily afford.

My response to the proposals are twofold. First, I should like to record my warm appreciation of what the Home Secretary said today about the triennial review of the present scheme. He has taken account of one of my key concerns and I am, as always, grateful for his attention.

Secondly, I do not believe that it is right or proper for any of us to demand that a scheme that has been in operation for a long time should continue, irrespective of the cost burden that it places on the taxpayer. One has to review such schemes from time to time and, although I and many people would have liked the current level of compensation to continue over a long period, I recognise the cogent arguments made by the Home Secretary on 28 March 1994.

Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

The victims of crime rarely find that their sufferings and grief end with the direct effects of the crime itself, severe though those may be. Frequently, their suffering extends into a sense of frustration and anger at the way in which they have been treated by the system during and after the investigation and trial, a sense that continues when they feel that their problems have been forgotten and neglected afterwards. One of the few sources of relief from that frustration is the system of criminal injuries compensation. Maintaining that system and ensuring that it works effectively must be a priority for anybody in any party who wants to recognise and deal with the problems of victims of crime.

The Home Secretary cannot escape from the fact that the measures that he took to change the compensation scheme before the Bill came before the House involved saving money; that was what they were intended to do. Inevitably, they did so at the expense of victims of crime.

That was all done on the basis of figures that have been vigorously challenged by those who have the best claim to understand the situation, especially the chairman of the board, our former colleague, Lord Carlisle, who did not understand how the Government could have arrived at their projection of how rapidly the cost of the scheme would increase. He claimed, with some authority, that if the Government's assumptions were correct and there were a 19.5 per cent. increase in the year just ended, the body should already have spent an extra £180 million, whereas it had spent only an extra £165 million. Already, in the first year of the calculation, the assessment of how rapidly the cost of the scheme would increase is £15 million out. The basis of the Government's figures has been seriously challenged.

The victims charter—it is still remembered—encouraged the police to tell people to apply for compensation, but they would have been applying for it under a compensation scheme that has now been radically changed. The Home Secretary must realise that there are serious disadvantages to put alongside the supposed advantages of a tariff system. Perhaps the most compelling instance of the disadvantage of a tariff system is the fact that it takes no account of the consequences of the injury for the livelihood of individuals, and their ability to earn their living and to maintain anything like their previous standard of living. Such considerations relate to the age of the people concerned and the extent to which the injury affects their livelihood.

Inevitably, those who will suffer most from the changes include some of those whose injuries are the worst and have the most disastrous effect on their future mobility. Some of those who suffer most will be the youngest people, who will suffer the consequences of crime over so many more years, and whose ability to earn their own living will have been destroyed or severely damaged by the crime.

Among those people will be injured police officers, often young men and women—both men and women have suffered criminal injury through service in the police force. That category will also include prison officers and people in civilian life who have to confront violence and criminality more often than many of us, because of the nature of their work. Examples are local authority staff, security guards and self-employed contractors, who, because of the nature of their work and where it takes place, come into contact with crime. Those people may be in a much less favourable position to make their own provision for insurance against crime than people on high earnings. I am talking about people running small one-man and one-woman businesses, who may be exposed to the danger of crime.

The figures quoted in the debate and the references to people on higher earnings have sometimes ignored the limitations already in the system. As I understand it, the scheme does not take into account earnings of more than one and a half times the national average, so there is no question of the old scheme doling out large sums of money to people simply because they had a huge earning capacity. Quite a modest limit on the level of earnings that can be taken into account is clearly built in.

The problems that will be faced under the new scheme have been vividly bought to light by Lord Carlisle, Lord Ackner and Martin Thomas QC, who, after serving on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for eight years, resigned in December 1993, with great regret, to protest against the changes and the serious consequences that he felt that they would have. The Home Secretary should not treat lightly the views of such people, or those of other organisations with considerable experience in dealing with victims of crime, who can see the reasoning behind the awards made, and who are deeply concerned about the consequences.

There is also a constitutional point underlying the amendment. The Government never implemented the statutory basis for criminal injuries compensation that this House and the other place intended should exist. The format of the amendment is designed to implement that statutory basis. We all realise that if the Government agreed to do that they would do it with modifications to the scheme. No doubt, for the reasons that they have advanced, they would seek to apply further financial restraints.

The framework of the Bill offered the Government an opportunity to put the new scheme on a statutory basis, and at the same time to listen to the concerns and objections of the people who understand how the old scheme has worked and the terrible suffering that it deals with, and who believe, as many of us do, that victims of serious crime will be severely damaged by the changes.

In making his projections for the possible cost of not changing the scheme, the Home Secretary seems to have little confidence in what he has said about reducing crime. He has stood before two Conservative conferences and told them that he would cut crime, but he does not show much confidence in the 27 measures that he announced last year if he thinks that there will still be spiralling costs because of increasing crime. The most effective way to reduce the future cost of the criminal injuries compensation scheme would be to reduce crime, and to introduce the measures involving policing in the community and changing attitudes in the community that many of us believe will bring that about.

The victims of crime must command sufficient attention from the Government to prevent them from being as seriously disadvantaged as I believe that many of them will be by the new scheme. Their lordships were right to seek, through the Bill, to bring the Government back to that issue. The Government made changes without any statutory authority or parliamentary basis. Here is an opportunity for us to put things back on a statutory basis and to have a modified scheme properly determined by statute. For that reason, I encourage my hon. Friends to vote for the Lords amendment.

Sir Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

I shall first deal with some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), the Opposition spokesman. The logic of his criticism would be to go back to the old system and spend even more than the £570 million that we should have expected to spend, if the system had been left in place, in order to reduce delays.

Will the hon. Gentleman give a commitment to that much more public spending if the Labour party ever takes power in this country? Of course he will not; nor was it to have been expected. What he says is just words. The Opposition always use the phrase "weasel words", but if people want weasel words and unconvincing words, there they are, without any commitment.

The hon. Gentleman cites bodies that want more money to be spent. Of course they do. Every spending body wants more money to be spent, especially if it can be raised from the taxpayer. If the Government gave way to every claim to spend more, the deficit would be not £40 billion but £400 billion, and the British economy, instead of being one of the safest in Europe, would be one of the sickest. It would be the laughing stock of Europe, as it was when the Labour Government were in power.

The hon. Gentleman said that it was not beyond the wit of a half-competent Home Secretary to come up with another scheme that combined the old and the new. But what about a half-competent Opposition spokesman? Where is his alternative scheme? He has all these groups and all these bodies closest to the question of criminal injuries compensation which support him. They have been thinking about the matter, agonising about the matter and worrying about the matter. Have they come up with the alternative scheme which would be an improvement on the scheme that my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has introduced? 5.30 pm

Finally, the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth attacks the Government's record on victims. At least this Government have a record of achievement for victims. The previous Labour Government had none at all. They spent less money on victims; they did not have a victims charter; they did not give victim support and victim counselling in the courts. If victim support is so poor, why are so many victims coming forward to complain, especially women who are the subject of rape and sexual offences? They never came forward in the days when we had a Labour Government and there was no concern about victims.

These criticisms are, again, just pathetic. They are just words and they have no content. It is the new-look Labour party, made for television, made for the sound bite and made for public consumption, which is actually meaningless and contentless.

We must support the Government in their stand on the criminal injuries compensation scheme because the Lords amendments would clearly wreck the scheme and because it is necessary to take action as the Government propose.

Mr. Bennett

If the hon. and learned Gentleman is so keen to criticise the Opposition, can he tell us the extent to which he expects the bill to be reduced over the next two or three years as a result of the Home Secretary getting tough on crime? Does he expect that policy to work? Does he expect the amount that has to be spent on victims to be reduced, or not?

Sir Ivan Lawrence

We know that there has been an increase in crime every year since the end of the war. We also know that the increase in crime in this country is consistent with increases in crime in all other countries in the western world except those that have far more repressive forms of punishment. We also know that there has been a reduction in crime in the past year. We have had little praise from the Labour party for having done what it has suggested that the Government should do—that is, to reduce crime. We are reducing crime at a rate of between 5 and 10 per cent. a year. If that means so little to the Labour party, perhaps Labour Members should get up on television more often and say, "We ought to have more crime, not less crime as the Government are achieving through their policies with the support of the police and the courts."

Mr. Michael

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman acknowledge that even if the fall in crime were at the level of 5 or 6 per cent., as he suggests—and that is not the case in terms of genuine crime or of crimes of violence—it would take 15 years to get back to the level under the previous Labour Government, at which time crime was actually going down?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We need to get back to the criminal injuries compensation scheme rather than discussing the wider scene.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

As you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should be happy to pursue the matter. No doubt we shall do so on other occasions. I should be more than happy to defend the Government's record.

I come back to the present criminal injuries compensation scheme, which I have said is necessary and which the Lords amendments would wreck. The reason why it is necessary is quite simply that the previous scheme was getting out of hand. The scheme before 1 April was getting too expensive. It was becoming too inefficient and too unfair. I do not say that as a criticism of the work of Lord Carlisle, who must be complimented on the great deal of effort that he, his team and his predecessors have put into the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board over so many years, with so many awards and such substantial increases. Therein, of course, lies part of the problem.

The scheme was getting too expensive because the cost was rising from an equivalent of £4 million in 1965 to £570 million in six years' time. That is totally unacceptable. If the figures are inaccurate—I am the first to concede that Government figures are often inaccurate, because the Treasury is famous for its inaccurate assessments, whether to the good or to the bad—to the extent of £16 million in one year, as the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) said, that would amount to an inaccuracy of about £100 million in six years' time. That is still an increase from the equivalent of £4 million when the scheme was set up to £470 million in six years' time, which is an enormous sum. It is an exponential increase which must be addressed by any responsible Government.

The scheme was getting too inefficient because of the delays, which were getting longer and longer. There were sometimes delays of years. We heard from my hon. Friends the Members for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Evans) and for Milton Keynes, North-East (Mr. Butler). Every hon. Member must have written to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board over the past year or two on behalf of constituents who complained that after a year, two years or even longer, they had still not received their money. I would much rather receive £1,000 next month than £1,500 in two or three years' time. Everywhere, we see that delays in payment are expensive and hurtful to those who will rely on the payments to achieve a certain standard of living after serious injury as a result of crime. The figures speak for themselves. We have gone from 2,500 claims 30 years ago to 73,000 claims now, with 41,000 awards.

The system was also getting unfair because there were too many examples of similar injuries attracting different amounts of compensation. Unfairness has arisen, which can be corrected to some extent by a tariff system.

As a result of those unfairnesses and inefficiencies and because of the exponential cost, the Government have proposed a new scheme which contains the cost, reduces the inefficiencies and the delay and is a bit fairer. It is not perfect. How could it be? In a perfect world, costs would be unlimited, delays would not exist, each case would be perfectly tailored and there would be no feelings of injustice caused by one person getting a different surn because his or her income was greater. Unfortunately, it is not a perfect world.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has outlined and reminded us of the scheme. It is there in the Bill for all of us to see. It is an attempt to provide, as broadly as we can, the current levels of award, based on an assessment of 20,000 cases, which does not sound to me an unreasonable cross-section. The question is not whether it is perfect, but whether it does more harm than good.

The scheme does do some harm; we have to accept that some people will suffer. We have to listen and we have to accept the fact that some of the hard cases that have been outlined by hon. Members in this debate may well be true. My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary said that 40 per cent. of cases might not be as well paid out as they are at present, but that 60 per cent. of cases will be as well, if not better, paid out.

I am concerned, as Opposition Members are, about police officers and prison officers. I have listened to what my right hon. and learned Friend has said about taking into consideration all the benefits that would accrue in the form of awards of one kind or another to police officers. We must ensure that police officers, through occupational pensions, receive benefits that are, perhaps, greater in future than they have been in the past.

When one looks at the alternative suggested by the Law Society and others, one must realise that if it will undermine the virtues of the new proposals, it must be unacceptable. The harm is not as great as some people are suggesting. We would still have the most generous scheme in the world. It is seven times more generous than the French, 20 times more generous than the Germans, and perhaps five or six times more generous than in the United States—where, as my right hon. and learned Friend said, there is an active victim lobby. Certainly, it is the most generous in the world if one includes Northern Ireland, which we always try to do in our proceedings in this place.

The new scheme is a tariff system, but one cannot complain about a tariff system. Even now, the criminal injuries compensation scheme, or the scheme that existed before 1 April, was a form of tariff system. All the judges apply a tariff system. So it is merely an extension and a variation of the tariff system.

Yes, loss of earnings will not be taken into consideration as a special damage. But that caused most of the delay. Fifty per cent. of the time spent on awards which, at the end, produced only about £100, was taken up by trying to assess with employers, sometimes with great difficulty, or with social security offices, when there was sometimes even greater difficulty, what the precise level of earnings loss had been. It is, in any event, somewhat doubtful whether a significant increase in payment ought to be due simply because one victim is earning more than the other, even though the injury is the same.

Mr. Stephen

Does my hon. and learned Friend accept that under the old criminal injuries compensation scheme, the assessment of damages for loss of earnings amounted very often to no more than crystal gazing? It was a notoriously inexact science and was often no more than an educated guess.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

And often, it produced only something like £100, for which there had been a delay of perhaps a year or two in trying to assess the sum. Also, the system is not so harmful because it will be cheaper. If it brings down the increase in costs from £166 million this year to £243 million in six years' time—a saving of £327 million or, if the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed is right, a saving of only £227 million—that money can be better spent elsewhere. It can be spent on a wider form of victim support. It can be spent on more health or more legal aid, or even in a reduction of taxation. Those are important benefits, even if it is no longer necessary because of the way in which the economy is improving, further to reduce the deficit.

It is a fact that the scheme is estimated to provide an improved situation or a no-worse situation for 60 per cent. of cases and it is a fact that social welfare, private insurance and occupational benefit schemes can be added to the benefits that will accrue from criminal injuries compensation. It will be more efficient because it will no longer be necessary to have a highly staffed board. There will be fewer appeals; there will be speedier settlements. As I have said, most people would rather have a sum of money in their pocket quickly, for the purposes of helping themselves immediately back to health, than a slightly larger sum of money a long time later.

We have to strike a balance. There is no way in which we can try to be perfect. The scheme does not apply to people who are victims of other kinds of injury other than criminal injury. We do not make any pretence with special schemes to try to help those who are not falling foul of criminal injury, so there is an injustice in the existing system.

5.45 pm

On balance, there seems to be far more for the Government's scheme than against it. If we apply the Bentham rule of the greatest happiness of the greatest number, the scheme should qualify. Furthermore, it is consistent with the view that the House has already expressed on an important occasion in March when we voted for the Government scheme. Now that the Home Secretary has given an undertaking that his mind is not closed to improvements in the scheme if it should be seen to be lacking, it is obvious that, on balance, there is more sense in supporting the Government's proposal and less sense in opposing it, for there is no alternative that could be seen to be workable. Therefore, in those circumstances, we should reject the Lords amendment.

Mr. John Morris (Aberavon)

The Lords amendment gives us an opportunity to consider real anxieties about the conduct of the Government in relation to Parliament and also the unfairness of the tariff proposal. I find the attitude of the Government, on the face of it, to the future of the much-valued CICB incomprehensible and indefensible. It is, in fact, an affront to Parliament. Parliament gave of its time to consider the Government's proposals in 1988 and 10 clauses of the Criminal Justice Act in 1988 dealt with the statutory scheme. It was high time then that there was a statutory scheme, after a very long—far too long—trial period and it was being put in order as it should have been.

The Bill ignores the 1988 Act. There was no mention of it until the Opposition tabled amendments. It is not even repealed. It will lie idle on the statute book. Instead, we have a non-statutory scheme and the Government have played ducks and drakes with Parliament and the time that Parliament gave to passing the 1988 Act. Therefore, I am grateful for the opportunity that the Lords have given us.

The Home Secretary said today that the proposed scheme is generous. There is always a case for examining a scheme, especially a scheme that has been going for a long time. But if one changes a scheme that has brought benefit to hundreds of thousands of people, we should examine whether the change proposed is a fair change: whether there is fairness in what is now proposed. The scheme before us has no friends anywhere other than on the Conservative Benches. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) quoted a large number of important and knowledgeable organisations that oppose and have opposed what is proposed. Their lordships' House opposed it. The ink is hardly dry on the victims charter before the rug is pulled from under the very victims who the Government put themselves up as being their protectors. Those victims, the 40 per cent. who are the losers, will know that this Government do not care about them. The new scheme is Treasury led, it is a means of saving money and saving money in an unfair way. The argument is about the proposed unfair tariff system.

We are replacing a carefully considered scheme, which had been working well—too well, the Government say—over the years, trying to put the principles of the common law into practice, by trying to put the injured back so far as was possible, financially at least, to the way they were before the accident or the injury. The common law has developed sensitively over the centuries and taken account paymentsof varying circumstances and a range of considerations. Instead of retaining the sensitive scheme, which had been run by the CICB, the Government have imposed a flat tariff and we have heard the admission that 40 per cent. of people will be losers.

We have to go back to ancient Greece to find a parallel. Procrustes sought to harmonise his victims by putting them on one of his two beds. If they were too short for one bed, he extended the victims' legs by pulling on them and if they were too long for the other bed, he cut the legs off. That was bad government then and this new tariff is bad government now.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth referred to several examples and I want to refer to one or two. The hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) was concerned about the loss of earnings. As the Home Secretary has told us, there may well be an element of loss of earnings in the tariff, but it will be a fixed amount and will not take into account the variable circumstances. That is the essence of a flat tariff.

A young skilled steeplejack who fractures his leg obviously has a greater financial loss than a retired pensioner in his seventies. The common law has always recognised that. Anyone in physical employment has the potential of greater financial loss. A high earner's loss is bound to be higher than a low earner's loss. We should be very interested to discover how wide accident policies are, as indicated by the Home Secretary, to cover that kind of contingency. We should like to know how many people are covered by such policies.

The scarred face of a girl model cannot be compared to a similar scar on a middle-aged man. That is what the common law has always been about, that is what our courts have emulated and that is what the board was trying to do its best to achieve.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

Will the right hon. and learned Member give way?

Mr. Morris

No, I do not have time. I am trying to close my comments.

All that I have described will be thrown out the window and in its place there will be a flat tariff which is fundamentally flawed in that it takes no account of age, sex or occupation.

I agree that the tariff figures are generally comparable to what is awarded at common law for pain and suffering. However, there is no proper means of effectively and fairly compensating for loss of wages or earning capacity. One cannot have that. I shall be fascinated by the Home Secretary's explanation of a flat tariff.

Lord Carlisle of Bucklow, an esteemed, distinguished and respected Member of our House over many years said: In cases such as sexual abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder or scarring, the effects vary so enormously in different people that to use any form of tariff is meaningless. The scheme will do a grave injustice to a large number of people. Never again will Conservative Members be able to say that they care for the victims of crime. If they do say that—and I am sure that they will—that will be sheer hypocrisy, because, plainly, they do not care. I wish that some Conservative Members who will troop into the Lobby in support of the Government had read carefully the knowledgeable and learned speeches made in the other House. Plainly, the plan has no friends and is patently unfair.

Mrs. Roche

In The Independent yesterday the Home Secretary said: The Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill has a common thread running through it: it protects the public and fights crime. A crucial element is the effect crime has on victims. We should all pay greater heed to victims' plight. Given that statement, I was absolutely amazed when the Home Secretary sought to overturn the Lords amendment.

The Home Office has already indicated that about 6,600 victims a year will receive payments that are less than half of what might have been expected under the present scheme. Written replies from Home Office Ministers earlier this year confirmed that 11 per cent. of recipients under the new scheme would receive awards which were 50 per cent. less than at present. A further 8 per cent. would receive compensation payments which were between half and two thirds of current awards. As the Police Federation put it,

The changes mark a significant and indefensible retreat from the Government's own commitment to give the highest priority to the victims of crime.

From time to time in our surgeries, we all have the tragic experience of seeing constituents who have been the victims of crime, and sometimes the victims of very violent crime. Yet the Home Secretary and the Government are attacking a scheme that is doing its best under the present system—and any system to aid the victims of crime should of course be improved.

Many examples already cited here and in another place show how the Government's proposals would adversely affect the victims of serious crime. The driving force behind the new tariff scheme is clearly Treasury driven and it attempts to make the victims of crime pay for the Government's failure significantly to reduce the level of crime, despite Ministers' spurious claims that the system will be improved.

What is even worse is that those hit hardest by the proposals will be the families of victims of murder and manslaughter. They are the people in society who often face the most difficult task. The proposals will also hurt those with the most serious injuries and those whose injuries result in significant impairment of earning capacity and loss of employment.

Lord Carlisle said that his major concern throughout had been that he considered that the new scheme was unfair in that all the savings would be made at the cost of those with the worst injuries. I do not believe for a moment that Lord Carlisle reached that conclusion lightly or hastily. He obviously felt quite rightly that the new proposals and the new scheme were wrong morally and in principle.

In cases of injury of maximum severity, the tariff system is wholly inappropriate. By removing the subjective element of the assessment", as the White Paper put it, no account would be taken of the widely differing consequences of such serious injury. That point was made so well and briefly by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris).

Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth)

Does my hon. Friend agree that we must look at the issue in a wider context? What does my hon. Friend think about a situation relating to a case—about which I wrote to the Minister, but did not receive a satisfactory reply—involving police officers in my constituency who were severely assaulted by a criminal who was on licence from prison? I will not go into the details, but the assault was sickening. Those officers saw that man being granted bail when he was taken to court. Not for the first time in his criminal career, that man did not respond to bail when the case came before the court. The officers then found that the injuries that the man had inflicted on them were likely to attract less compensation than they would under the present system.

Mrs. Roche

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing that case to the attention of the House. There are many tragic cases like that and that explains why the Police Federation reached the conclusion that it reached.

The proposals have changed the scheme from being a finely tuned and flexible instrument designed to meet the individual needs of people who have suffered appalling injuries—many of whom are police officers, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) said—and have lumped those people together with people who have suffered other injuries without taking into consideration individual circumstances, age, future prospects or dependants.

Another aspect of the proposal is the way in which it has been introduced. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberavon has explained that the Lords amendment, and the Labour amendment supporting it, seek to put the current compensation scheme on a statutory basis, fulfilling the obligation made in the Criminal Justice Act 1988. Perhaps the Home Secretary can tell the House whether he thinks, as Earl Ferrers appeared to think in another place, that when Parliament enacted the 1988 Act and provided that the Secretary of State should bring that legislation into force on a day or days of his choosing, Parliament intended that he be allowed to ignore it altogether and introduce a completely different scheme without reference to Parliament. Clearly, the 1998 Act intended to ensure that the Executive were accountable to the House in this matter. That is a very important point of principle and I should be grateful if the Home Secretary would address it.

Reference has already been made to Mr. Martin Thomas QC, who was a member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for nine years. Perhaps it would be salutary to note Mr. Thomas's article of 18 January, which states: Conservative MPs, if no longer moved by justice and fairness, ought to be thinking about their skins. The voters will be out for Tory blood when they rumble what lies behind these alleged reforms. Perhaps it is time for Tories to plot a little political mugging of their Home Secretary. The board would sympathetically consider giving him an award.

6 pm

Mr. Mike O'Brien (Warwickshire, North)

I remind the House that I am a parliamentary adviser to the Police Federation of England and Wales. In that regard, I raise with the Home Secretary concern about his remark that an officer who is injured during the course of his service will receive his pension, plus a gratuity of five times his annual salary. That is incorrect. That occurs only when there is a violent death in service, as the Home Secretary should know. [Interruption.] The Home Secretary appears to ask from a sedentary position exactly what I said, so I repeat it: a violent death in service. Other than that, if he has, for example, 20 years' service entitlement, that officer will receive 27 60ths of his pensionable pay. The only gratuity will come from commuting up to a maximum of a quarter of the pension to which he is entitled. There is no gratuity of five times the annual salary in the case of Stonier, for example, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) referred. I hope that the Home Secretary will be good enough to correct that matter in due course.

I also remind the House that one in 12 applications to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board arise from assaults on officers. The Police Federation therefore strongly opposes the Government's attack on victims in the form of cutting compensation. Yesterday, the police protected parliamentary debate and risked assault in doing so. Is it not a rich irony that some Conservative MPs, who today praised officers of the Metropolitan police for risking assault in protecting Parliament, will vote to cut the compensation that would have been payable to officers who were the victims of such criminal assaults?

The Government's new criminal injuries compensation scheme is a betrayal of all victims of crime—the very victims for whom the Government have been trumpeting their support for months. The Government complain that the criminal injuries compensation scheme is becoming too expensive and that its costs have grown greatly during the past 15 years. Its costs have increased because the number of victims has increased during the Government's tenure. The Government's complaint is that the victims of crime—the victims of the failure of Tory law and order policies—are now becoming too expensive.

How can the Government justify saying to a victim of crime that, whereas for the past 15 years their policy was to pay, as in the Stonier case, £126,000 for a certain injury, now, because the scheme is becoming too expensive for the Government, the amount is only £7,500? What Tory message is that to the victims of crime? The scheme robs those who have suffered the worst and most serious injury of the relatively fair compensation that was payable under the old scheme, as part of a criminal justice system which otherwise does little or nothing for the victims of crime. Although it is fair to say that improving the speed of delivery of compensation is important, it should not be bought at the price of unfairness and injustice in the quality of what is delivered. Speeding up the process can be done without the Government's proposed system of arbitrary tariffs. The Government promise is that the new system will be much quicker. That is their main argument for it. I have my doubts. From long experience of such cases, I know that the main cause of delay has been and will remain awaiting medical and witness reports.

Perhaps there will be some small savings in time, but they will not be enough to justify the increased unfairness that the new system will create. Fairness in dealing with the widely differing circumstances of victims is important if the victims are not also to regard themselves as victims of the unfairness of the criminal injuries compensation system.

Each case is different; it has its own factors and consequences. Being blinded in a criminal attack does not have the same financial consequences for everyone. The consequences for a 24-year-old builder's labourer with a wife and two children are different from those for an 80-year-old who lives in an old folks' home. The law recognised that difference under the old scheme and it sought a certain level of fairness, despite some inadequacies. How can it be fair that the victim of a hit-and-run driver who breaks a leg will receive full compensation from the motor insurance bureau under common law principles and that the victim of a criminal attack with an iron bar will not receive such compensation under the Government's new scheme? That difference cannot be justified.

The Government's proposals are all about saving the Treasury money at the expense of the victims of crime. Compensation without compassion for victims is the Government's message. If the Government deny that, let the facts speak for themselves, especially when it comes to victims of the most serious crimes. Let us consider a few cases. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth has already referred to the Stonier case, on which I have had to correct the Home Secretary. My hon. Friend referred also to the Holton case, in which compensation was reduced from £126,000 to £5,000.

In the Slater case, a woman aged 38 who witnessed her husband being stabbed to death would have received £137,000 under the old scheme but would receive £17,500 under the new one. In the case of Burrows, a 46-year-old social worker who was attacked at work would have received £55,000 under the old scheme but would receive £3,000 under the new one. Lady Tebbit, who was injured in the Brighton bombing, received £750,000 under the old scheme. She would receive a third of that amount under the new scheme. Quddus Ali, a 17-year-old who received serious head injuries when he was attacked, would have received £65,000 under the old scheme but would receive £40,000 under the new scheme. Colin Hickman, a Coventry solicitor specialising in civil litigation who was stabbed more than 10 times, would have received £100,000 under the old scheme. Under the new scheme because the offence resulted in a fatality, he would receive £10,000.

Those examples speak for themselves. In effect, the Home Secretary is mugging the victims of crime. The victims of crime are now becoming the victims of Government cuts.

Mr. Howard

With permission, I will try and deal briefly with some points that have been raised.

We are accustomed to hot air from the Opposition parties, but in this debate they have exceeded their normal performance by a large margin. It is simply no use at all protesting about the Government's proposals unless one is prepared to make a commitment that one will stick to the old scheme were one ever to form a Government. That would give some small credibility to the Opposition's points. In the absence of that commitment, what Opposition Members say signifies absolutely nothing.

Questions were raised about the extent to which the new scheme compensates people for loss of earnings. It is the case that the tariff reflects loss of earnings. The tariff award is based on awards made previously by the board. It includes an element for loss of earnings and the other heads of damage payable under the old scheme. However, it is true that these elements are no longer separately quantifiable. There is a difference, but the tariff reflects loss of earnings in that way. That is the answer to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby).

Mr. John Morris

Will the Home Secretary give way?

Mr. Howard

I want to make speedy progress. The tariff is not a flat rate; it represents an average of loss of earnings.

My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge also raised a question about insurance policies. As far as we are aware, most insurance policies which cover such loss do not exclude injuries caused by crimes of violence, so that route is open.

Many of the examples that were cited by Labour Members, including the Front-Bench spokesman, leave out completely the extent to which people benefit from occupational schemes. There is one important respect in which the new arrangements are advantageous, compared to the old scheme. Under the old scheme, occupational and Department of Social Security benefits are taken into account by the board when making an assessment. Under the new scheme, such benefits will be disregarded. That is an important difference which is an advantage of the new scheme. It might well also be an advantage—I do not know whether it will be an advantage because that depends on the particular circumstances—in some of the examples cited by Labour Members.

My information about the entitlement of police officers who have been injured is not the same as that given to the House by the hon. Member for Warwickshire, North (Mr. O'Brien). Perhaps that is something which we can pursue in correspondence.

Mr. Mike O'Brien

I am concerned that some of the Home Secretary's information about the sorts of levels is wrong; he may be relying on wrong information. I suggest that what I said was right. My source of information is well known both to him and to me and is well respected by us both—it is the general secretary of the Police Federation, whom I telephoned to check the facts.

Mr. Howard

I do not think that we will be able to resolve the matter across the Floor of the House this evening, but I am certainly prepared to pursue it with the hon. Gentleman.

The truth is that the new scheme has advantages of speed and bringing costs under control. It will remain one of the most generous schemes in the world. I commend the scheme to the House. On that basis, I invite the House to disagree with the amendment made in another place.

Mr. Michael

The Home Secretary has totally failed to answer the debate. Indeed, he changed his question. He asked whether Labour would stick to the old scheme—the answer is yes. He is the one who seeks to change the old scheme.

It is clear from the debate that Tory Members are no longer interested in justice or fairness. The Home Secretary is no longer interested in the victims of the most violent and horrific of injuries. If Tory Members vote to disagree with the Lords in the amendment, they will stand condemned by their own actions.

Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 291, Noes 264.

Division No. 310] [6.12 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Carlisle, John (Luton North)
Aitken, Rt Hon Jonathan Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Lincoln)
Alexander, Richard Carrington, Matthew
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Carttiss, Michael
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Cash, William
Amess, David Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Ancram, Michael Churchill, Mr
Arbuthnot, James Clappison, James
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Ashby, David Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ru'clif)
Aspinwall, Jack Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Atkins, Robert Coe, Sebastian
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Colvin, Michael
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Congdon, David
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Conway, Derek
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Bates, Michael Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Batiste, Spencer Couchman, James
Bellingham, Henry Cran, James
Bendall, Vivian Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Beresford, Sir Paul Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Davis, David (Boothferry)
Booth, Hartley Day, Stephen
Boswell, Tim Deva, Nirj Joseph
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Devlin, Tim
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Dicks, Terry
Bowden, Sir Andrew Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Bowis, John Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Dover, Den
Brandreth, Gyles Duncan, Alan
Brazier, Julian Duncan-Smith, Iain
Bright, Sir Graham Dunn, Bob
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Durant, Sir Anthony
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Dykes, Hugh
Browning, Mrs. Angela Eggar, Tim
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Elleton, Harold
Burns, Simon Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Butcher, John Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Butler, Peter Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Butterfill, John Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Leigh, Edward
Evennett, David Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark
Faber, David Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lidington, David
Fishburn, Dudley Lilley, Rt Hon peter
Forman, Nigel Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lord, Michael
Forth, Eric Luff, Peter
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger MacKay, Andrew
French, Douglas Maclean, David
Fry, Sir Peter Madel, Sir David
Gale, Roger Major, Rt Hon John
Gallie, Phil Malone, Gerald
Gardiner, Sir George Mans, Keith
Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan Marland, Paul
Garnier, Edward Marlow, Tony
Gill, Christopher Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Gillan, Cheryl Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Mates, Michael
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Grant, Sir A. (Cambs SW) McLoughlin, Patrick
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Greenway, John Mellor, Rt Hon David
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Merchant, Piers
Grylls, Sir Michael Mills, Iain
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hague, William Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)
Hampson, Dr Keith Moate, Sir Roger
Hannam, Sir John Monro, Sir Hector
Harris, David Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Haselhurst, Alan Moss, Malcolm
Hawkins, Nick Nelson, Anthony
Hayes, Jerry Neubert, Sir Michael
Heald, Oliver Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward Nicholls, Patrick
Heathcoat-Amory, David Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hendry, Charles Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hicks, Robert Norris, Steve
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Oppenheim, Phillip
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham) Ottaway, Richard
Horam, John Page, Richard
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Paice, James
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Patnick, Sir Irvine
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Pawsey, James
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W) Pickles, Eric
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Hunter, Andrew Redwood, Rt Hon John
Jack, Michael Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Richards, Rod
Jenkin, Bernard Riddick, Graham
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Robathan, Andrew
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr) Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Key, Robert Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Kilfedder, Sir James Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
King, Rt Hon Tom Sackville, Tom
Kirkhope, Timothy Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Knapman, Roger Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Shaw, David (Dover)
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Knox, Sir David Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Shersby, Michael
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Sims, Roger
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Legg, Barry Soames, Nicholas
Speed, Sir Keith Trotter, Neville
Spencer, Sir Derek Twinn, Dr Ian
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset) Viggers, Peter
Spring, Richard Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Sproat, Iain Walden, George
Squire, Robin (Hornchurch) Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Waller, Gary
Steen, Anthony Ward, John
Stephen, Michael Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Stern, Michael Waterson, Nigel
Stewart, Allan Watts, John
Streeter, Gary Wells, Bowen
Sumberg, David Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Sweeney, Walter Whitney, Ray
Sykes, John Whittingdale, John
Tapsell, Sir Peter Widdecombe, Ann
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Taylor, John M. (Solihull) Willetts, David
Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E) Wilshire, David
Temple-Morris, Peter Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Thomason, Roy Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Wolfson, Mark
Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V) Wood, Timothy
Thurnham, Peter Yeo, Tim
Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th) Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Tracey, Richard Tellers for the Ayes:
Tredinnick, David Mr. Sydney Chapman and
Trend, Michael Dr. Liam Fox
Abbott, Ms Diane Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Adams, Mrs Irene Clelland, David
Ainger, Nick Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Coffey, Ann
Allen, Graham Cohen, Harry
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Connarty, Michael
Anderson, Ms Janet Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
(Ros'dale) Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Armstrong, Hilary Corbett, Robin
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Corbyn, Jeremy
Ashton, Joe Corston, Jean
Barnes, Harry Cousins, Jim
Barron, Kevin Cunliffe, Lawrence
Battle, John Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Bayley, Hugh Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Dafis, Cynog
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Dalyell, Tam
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Darling, Alistair
Bennett, Andrew F. Davidson, Ian
Benton, Joe Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Bermingham, Gerald Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Berry, Roger Denham, John
Betts, Clive Dewar, Donald
Blair, Tony Dixon, Don
Boateng, Paul Dobson, Frank
Bradley, Keith Donohoe, Brian H.
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dowd, Jim
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Dunnachie, Jimmy
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Eagle, Ms Angela
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Eastham, Ken
Burden, Richard Enright, Derek
Byers, Stephen Etherington, Bill
Caborn, Richard Evans, John (St Helens N)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Fatchett, Derek
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Fisher, Mark
Canavan, Dennis Flynn, Paul
Cann, Jamie Foster, Don (Bath)
Chidgey, David Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Chisholm, Malcolm Foulkes, George
Church, Judith Fraser, John
Clapham, Michael Fyfe, Maria
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike McMaster, Gordon
Garrett, John McNamara, Kevin
George, Bruce McWilliam, John
Gerrard, Neil Meacher, Michael
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Meale, Alan
Godman, Dr Norman A. Michael, Alun
Godsiff, Roger Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Golding, Mrs Llin Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Graham, Thomas Milburn, Alan
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Miller, Andrew
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Grocott, Bruce Moonie, Dr Lewis
Gunnell, John Morgan, Rhodri
Hain, Peter Morley, Elliot
Hall, Mike Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Hanson, David Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Hardy, Peter Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Harman, Ms Harriet Mowlam, Marjorie
Harvey, Nick Mudie, George
Henderson, Doug Mullin, Chris
Heppell, John Murphy, Paul
Hill, Keith (Streatham) O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Hinchliffe, David O'Neill, Martin
Hodge, Margaret Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Hoey, Kate Olner, William
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Home Robertson, John Parry, Robert
Hood, Jimmy Patchett, Terry
Hoon, Geoffrey Pendry, Tom
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Pickthall, Colin
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Pike, Peter L.
Hoyle, Doug Pope, Greg
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Prentice, Bridget (Lew'm E)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Primarolo, Dawn
Hutton, John Purchase, Ken
Illsley, Eric Quin, Ms Joyce
Ingram, Adam Radice, Giles
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead) Handall, Stuart
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H) Raynsford, Nick
Janner, Greville Reid, Dr John
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side) Rendel, David
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW) Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Jowell, Tessa Rogers, Allan
Keen, Alan Rooker, Jeff
Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S) Rooney, Terry
Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Khabra, Piara S. Rowlands, Ted
Kilfoyle, Peter Ruddock, Joan
Kirkwood, Archy Salmond, Alex
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Sedgemore, Brian
Lewis, Terry Sheerman, Barry
Liddell, Mrs Helen Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Litherland, Robert Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Livingstone, Ken Short, Clare
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Simpson, Alan
Llwyd, Elfyn Skinner, Dennis
Loyden, Eddie Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Lynne, Ms Liz Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Macdonald, Calum Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
MacShane, Denis Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Madden, Max Snape, Peter
Mahon, Alice Soley, Clive
Mandelson, Peter Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Marek, Dr John Stevenson, George
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Stott, Roger
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Strang, Dr. Gavin
Martlew, Eric Straw, Jack
McAllion, John Sutcliffe, Gerry
McAvoy, Thomas Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
McCartney, Ian Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
McFall, John Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
McKelvey, William Timms, Stephen
McLeish, Henry Tipping, Paddy
Trimble, David Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Turner, Dennis Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Tyler, Paul Wilson, Brian
Vaz, Keith Winnick, David
Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold Wise, Audrey
Wallace, James Worthington, Tony
Wardell, Gareth (Gower) Wray, Jimmy
Wareing, Robert N Wright, Dr Tony
Watson, Mike
Welsh, Andrew Tellers for the Noes:
Wicks, Malcolm Mr. John Cummings and
Wigley, Dafydd Mr. Jon Owen-Jones

Question accordingly agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendments agreed to.