HC Deb 09 February 1995 vol 254 cc441-2
3. Mrs. Jane Kennedy

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the number of awards for criminal injuries compensation which will be reassessed if the tariff scheme is withdrawn.

Mr. Howard

If the tariff scheme has to be withdrawn, all applications lodged since 1 April 1994 will have to be reassessed. Up to the end of January, some 51,400 applications had been lodged.

Mrs. Kennedy

Will those 51,000 victims of violent crime be further disadvantaged by having to wait another period before receiving payment in compensation? Exactly how much public money will be spent on the reassessment of those cases if the tariff scheme is withdrawn? That money could have been spent on the victims of violent crime.

Mr. Howard

I think that the hon. Lady is under a misapprehension. The whole purpose of taking action under the tariff scheme was to ensure that people did not have to wait for payment of compensation and that they had those payments before the ultimate judgment of the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords in this matter. The whole purpose of making payments under the tariff scheme during the interim judgment while we await the ultimate judgment is to ensure that people do not have to wait longer than necessary for their money.

Mr. Michael

Will the Home Secretary explain why there has been a slowdown in the flow of paperwork from the Home Office on claims under the criminal injury compensation scheme? Leaving aside the dubious legality of how he sought to change the scheme, which still hangs in the balance, will he now admit the obvious: that victims of the most serious crimes of violence will not gain under his scheme and that compensation for those who suffer the most horrendous attacks and therefore need that compensation most, including police and fire officers injured in the course of duty, will be slashed?

Mr. Howard

Time after time, it has been made clear that 60 per cent. of the victims of crime will gain by way of compensation under the tariff scheme at least as much as, if not more than, under the old scheme. Time after time, the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues on the Opposition Front Bench have failed to give an undertaking that they would restore the old scheme. Unless and until they give such an undertaking, all questions of the kind which the hon. Gentleman asked are the hottest of hot air.