§ 2.57 p.m.
§ The Earl of LONGFORD
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. I rise to move the Second Reading of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Bill fortified by the attendance of so many noble Lords and, in particular, by the presence of so many right reverend Prelates; that is very encouraging. This must not be regarded as a solo effort on my part. It is the outcome of the work of a fairly small, but widely representative, committee that laid its findings before the House last year. We all worked hard, but we owed special inspiration to the work of Mr. Michael Whittaker, whose own daughter was foully murdered a good many years ago. We owed much to the assistance given during the research by the Dulverton Trust and the Matthew Trust. We had the advantage of the services of a 229 former Government draftsman. I am told that his draft is a beautiful piece of work. If anyone questions that, he has only to look at the second page of the Bill and see whether he can make head or tail of the definition of " violence " that is given there. That is the essence of drafting—that one has everybody working it out, with some difficulty. At any rate it is a very professional job, though of course we must not hold him responsible for the final outcome.
The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, whom I welcome to office with even more than usual cordiality, will no doubt later be explaining the attitude of the Government. However, I take the liberty of quoting an extract from a letter written to me by the Home Secretary, Mr. Whitelaw, in reply to a letter of mine enclosing a copy of the Bill. The Home Secretary wrote:Your Bill will undoubtedly influence our consideration of the subject. But all I can say at present is that I fully share your sympathy with the victims of crime and particularly those who suffer injury through criminal violence ".I am sure that that sympathy with victims of criminal violence is echoed in every quarter of the House, and indeed throughout the country.
My Lords, I go further. I submit that all of us, or almost all of us, would agree that, of the many categories of people who need assistance from the State, the victims of crime are the most neglected. There is something of a paradox here. Everyone says that we ought to do much more for victims. They say it particularly to so-called penal reformers, like myself, but they say it all over the place—" We ought to do much more for victims ". But in practice nothing, or hardly anything, is done. I pointed out last year, when I initiated the debate on the report of our working party on victims, that the last systematic debate here—also, incidentally, initiated by myself—took place 16 years earlier. That was in 1962—shortly before the present provisions for compensation were introduced. In the years between, the years 1962 to 1978, there was a steady and massive increase in crime, particularly violent crime. During those years the House discussed every topic under the sun, including all the main social issues, repeatedly. But, alas!, in regard to victims there was a deafening silence. It is worth thinking about that for a 230 moment and then deciding that that silence should be terminated.
In one translation of the Gospels—I do not know which one is preferred by most of the right reverend Prelates with us today—a distinction is drawn between respectable people and outcasts; and, obviously, we ought to do what we can to be of assistance to both. The extraordinary thing about victims is that they are innocent people, respectable by definition, and yet we treat them, and force them to see themselves, as outcasts. Certainly that is how they do see themselves at the present time. None of us can be happy with that situation. We are often told in connection with, for example, penal reform that public opinion would not allow a Government to show much sympathy for criminals. No one will tell me that in regard to victims. No one will get up today and say, " I am afraid the public are rather anti-victim; I am sorry, you have chosen the wrong cause ". We cannot be told that this afternoon. I am sure that no other social improvement would arouse more general approval than fair play for victims.
I said in our debate last year that our report did not provide a complete charter for victims. To do so, as I pointed out then, would involve far-reaching improvements in our arrangements for law and order, for the prevention and treatment of crime. I repeat those observations today. But for reasons that will be readily understood, the scope of the Bill before the House this afternoon is not even as wide as the scope of that report. Nor, in the nature of things, does it contain various additional suggestions made in the debate last year by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and other speakers. Nor does it try to settle numerous points of detail which are properly dealt with by administrative action. Of course, it is open to your Lordships, if this Bill gets a Second Reading, to put in various recommendations which would apply the principles laid down in this Bill rather more closely; but on the face of' it this Bill could be accepted as it stands and then the details could he worked out by administrative action.
A few more words must be said about what the Bill does not do; in other words, about its limitations. In the first place, compensation is still confined to victims 231 of violence. Secondly, the Bill does not attempt to extend the whole principle, to which many of us are dedicated, of reparation to the State and to the victim in our sentencing policy. We discussed that at some length last year. But the question of a new sentencing policy, or an adaptation of our existing sentencing policy, is not dealt with here. Thirdly, this Bill does not set out to provide support for the invaluable work being done by the growing number of victim support schemes. I will not set out to defend those exclusions. I think, however, that most noble Lords will agree that the present Bill puts enough on our plate for the moment. But if this Bill does not in itself provide an adequate charter for victims, it is the second major step taken in that direction. The first major step was the establishment of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board in 1964, with power to make ex-gratia payments to victims of violence.
I have mentioned some of the things that the Bill does not do: let me mention some of the things that the Bill does do. In the first place, it puts the present scheme on a statutory basis. I will come back to that in a moment, if I may. In the second place, it makes the provisions which now exist on paper far more accessible in practice; much more likely to be used, and used effectively. For this purpose, Clause 2 is the most significant. At present, a claim made by a victim is considered on paper in the first place. If the victim appeals against the finding, he has a right of personal appearance before a tribunal of three persons; but I should emphasise that legal aid is not available, as I know from first-hand experience lately, for the purpose of this appeal.
I will not take the House through the Bill in detail, but I will quote a few sentences from Clause 2. Clause 2(2) runs like this:On receipt of such application—232 and at all these stages. Then:
- (a) the tribunal shall refer such claim to a local board for hearing before which the applicant will have the right of personal appearance or representation.
- (b) The applicant shall have a right of appeal to the main tribunal from such local board, and thence to the Court of Appeal as set out in Schedule …
- (c) Legal aid shall be available to applicants for all these purposes "(d) It shall be the duty of the local Board as far as possible to call the attention of victims in their area to the existence of the machinery for obtaining criminal compensation ".When I say, therefore, that compensation will be far more accessible in practice, I have in mind particularly, first, much greater publicity; secondly, personal access to local tribunals instead of correspondence with some remote head office in London; and, thirdly—and this is, of course, of the first importance—legal aid at all stases.
Moreover, my Lords—and this is the third main benefit—the Bill provides certain new rights. One is solatium: the right of a relative to compensation for loss of society, as in Scotland. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, will approve this attempt to bring us into parity with Scotland. At any rate, in Clause 13 of our Bill there is a list of relatives, which is almost entirely taken from the list which is used in Scotland, who might qualify under this head. The House must not jump to the conclusion that all these relatives—and there seem to be rather a lot of them if you look at Clause 13—would normally qualify. Whether they did or did not qualify for this solatium, this compensation, when some relative had been killed, would be for the tribunal to decide. In Scotland at the present time a parent who lost a dearly-loved child on whose earnings he was in no way dependent would qualify for compensation; that is, in Scotland at the present time, but not in England. In our Bill we seek to introduce the Scottish principle.
Secondly, at the present time victims of family violence are excluded. There seems to be general agreement in principle that they should now be included in the scheme, although an inter-departmental committee which looked into this and reported in that sense felt it necessary to make various qualifications. At any rate, in our Bill victims of family violence will qualify for the first time in this country. Then, thirdly, victims of violence will be able to secure compensation by instalments instead of, or in addition to, the present lump sum, if the tribunal orders it. Fourthly, victims with a criminal past will not be automatically excluded, 233 as is more or less the case now. We shall exclude them in future only if the conduct of the victim contributed to the violent assault.
I think I am right in saying that when the leader of one IRA gang received a large sum in compensation because some other rival gang had given him severe maltreatment, there was a protest at the payment of that sum to someone living outside the law. Our rule would be that you would be excluded in this way not on the strength of your criminal past or just because you were, say, a prostitute—your way of life might be thought unsatisfactory—but because you had yourself contributed to the violent assault.
The Bill points the way to a new therapeutic treatment for victims. Much sympathy was aroused last year, not only in this House but outside, by the proposal in our report for therapeutic centres for victims. As I understand it, it would not be appropriate to set up these centres under the present Bill, but the Bill paves the way for their establishment. Ultimately, here and generally, the treatment of victims, including the levels of compensation, will depend on the concern of society as reflected in public and private action. This is true, mutatis mutandis, of all social services. The level provided rises as time goes on. But we see our Bill as a vital move if victims are not going to be left behind hopelessly as they are today.
I must return now to the fact that the Bill puts criminal injuries compensation on a statutory footing. It has always been assumed in my understanding that this would be done as soon as reasonable experience had been gained of the so-called ex-gratia arrangements. Fifteen years have passed since the ex-gratia arrangements were introduced. It would be difficult to claim that insufficient time for judgment has elapsed. The Welfare State as we know it today has been built up within a statutory framework and deserving persons of all kinds have been enabled in this way to receive State assistance.
Why should victims be treated differently? Why should they be discriminated against and allowed only an ex-gratia scheme? Why should they be treated for this purpose as second-class 234 citizens? Is it because we do not take their plight quite seriously; that we think they are border-line cases who are not quite worthy of a full statutory scheme? I cannot believe that we would wish this to be said of us. If not, then the time has come to suit the action to the words and to put victims on the same footing as all the others who benefit, rightly, from our social services.
The interdepartmental working party which reported last year was working on the assumption (to quote its words) that:the scheme would be placed on a statutory footing ".It was set up on that assumption. It came to the conclusion that most of the changes which it recommended—and I must say that they were very limited changes and certainly could not be said to cover the whole field—could be made within the framework of continuing the non-statutory scheme, the present ex-gratia scheme. But it clearly left it to others, its political masters, to decide whether legislation should or should not be introduced at an early date to place the scheme on a statutory footing.
The Pearson Royal Commission on Civil Liability and Compensation for Personal Injury, of which the noble Lord, Lord Allen of Abbeydale, was a distinguished member—and I am glad to see that he is to speak today—
§ The Earl of LONGFORD
Yes, my Lords. I was referring to the noble Lord, Lord Allen of Abbeydale, and to his taking part in the debate. I hope that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, will himself feel drawn to take part.
What I was saying was that the Pearson Royal Commission on Civil Liability and Compensation for Personal Injury, which reported at about the same time as the Interdepartmental Committee last year, recommended in unequivocal language that the scheme should be made statutory. They say in their report that that is usually the situation in other countries. Their findings cannot, surely, be lightly put aside—and, certainly, not by me, with the noble and learned Lord, 235 Lord Pearson, sitting within a yard or so of me.
The most obvious advantage of a statutory scheme would be that in the last resort there would be an appeal to the courts and much of the mystery that inevitably attaches to a bureaucratic scheme of the kind that we have today would be dissipated. Today there is much that we cannot discover, including, of course, the reason why claims are turned down. I went as a claimant's friend (the claimant was not allowed legal aid) before an appeal tribunal not long ago. The claim had already been turned down once after it had been examined on paper without the applicant being seen by anyone. This time a high official of the board (who must be deemed to have had a good deal to do with turning down the original claim) appeared in person against my friend. The result seemed like a foregone conclusion, and certainly the verdict went against us. No reasons were given. There was no appeal to the courts. Under a statutory scheme it would be more likely that justice would be done, and far more likely that it would be seen to be done.
In wider terms, the establishment of a statutory system would command much more confidence among victims, and certainly could be used to promote much more effective publicity. As time went on a statutory board would no doubt be better placed to exercise influence on behalf of more generous treatment for victims. I hope that I do not seem to disparage the devoted work of the officials of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board from whom I have always received complete courtesy. They would be invaluable whatever form was taken by the new arrangements.
I shall naturally be asked how much this is going to cost. The change from an ex-gratia to a statutory basis would, as such, cost little. The main difference is the introduction of an appeal to the courts. Our own recommendations of local tribunals and legal aid at all levels would cost a little more, but the sum involved would still be minor. Our intention, however, that considerably more victims will receive compensation than do so at the present time would admittedly involve rather more expense. There is no use my saying that more people would get 236 compensation and then saying that it would not cost any more. But how much more that would come to in money terms, nobody can say.
The board themselves, in reply to questions, feel unable to make any estimate of the proportion of those who could not claim and do not do so; and still less are they able to make an estimate of the people who might succeed if they were given legal aid and so on. We, the promoters of this Bill, cannot say how many people we are talking about when we refer to new claimants and to claimants who now fail to make good their claim and who, under our scheme, would succeed. But let me give some idea of the order of magnitude. According to the last published report of the board, £10 million was paid out in claims. Whatever percentage increase would take place under our Bill, the figures involved—the percentage increase on £10 million—ar[...] relatively small compared with the total amount spent—and I am not saying for a moment that it is too much—on law and order, not to mention the other social services. Even in these times of stringency, we are surely not going to say that no expansion of any kind whatever in the social services, however urgent, can be permitted; that this great—and, may I say, wealthy—country cannot afford these few million pounds for people with their crying need.
It may well be that my commonplace words have not been able to bring home to everyone the widespread and often lifelong suffering that exists today among the many innocent victims of criminal violence. They are indeed a forgotten army. Moreover, they feel collectively that they are a humiliated army on whom society has deliberately turned its back through shame or embarrassment. The last thing I would claim for the present Bill is that it is in any way complete or perfect. If I were told that it is too modest I might be inclined to agree; but if that is the case, then the argument becomes all the more irresistible for doing at least this belated measure of justice.
Of course one will welcome suggestions from the House and, it may well be, additions and amendments to this Bill. I come before the House in no kind of dogmatic spirit but I beg the House to rise once again to a great opportunity. 237 It would not be the first time—whatever our critics might think or say—that we should have given a lead to the heart and mind of the nation. I implore this House, respectfully but firmly, to give this Bill a Second Reading this afternoon. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be read now 2a.—(The Earl of Longford.)
§ 3.22 p.m.
§ Lord BOSTON of FAVERSHAM
My Lords, it gives me great pleasure to commend my noble friend Lord Longford most warmly for giving us the chance to debate this topic and for moving the Second Reading of his Criminal Injuries (Compensation) Bill. By doing so, he has underlined the importance of not forgetting the victims of crime, and especially those who suffer personal injury at the hands of the criminal. My noble friend has long been widely known as a fighter for the rights of prisoners, for penal reform and for safeguards for the accused. What is perhaps not widely known—particularly outside your Lordships' House—is that for quite some time he has also been working behind the scenes supporting the cause of victims of crime.
Before coming to my noble friend's proposal, I want to mention briefly the background. Your Lordships will know that there are already several measures providing for compensation for victims of crime. There is the provision for compensation orders under Section 35 of the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973, as amended by the Criminal Law Act 1977, Section 60, under which magistrates' courts may award up to £1,000 and the Crown Court an unlimited amount. There is the power under Section 28 of the Theft Act 1968 to make restitution orders for property. There is Section 7 of the Criminal Justice Act 1972 relating to bankruptcy orders in criminal cases. There is the criminal injuries compensation scheme itself to which my noble friend has already referred, a non-statutory scheme providing a system for ex-gratia payments, as he has said; and there are of course civil remedies.
During the period of the last Government, my noble and learned friend the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Elwyn- 238 Jones, was most anxious that the powers, particularly of the magistrates' courts, to order compensation to be paid by the defendants on conviction should be used to the full, and in fact he went round the country urging justices to do just that. Not only is it important from the victim's point of view that he should be compensated, but we are also strongly of the opinion—and my noble and learned friend was at pains to point this out previously—that the offender should be made to face up to his victim and face up to his responsibilities towards his victim. I believe that the more effectively these powers are used, and the more that the criminal comes to know that he will have to pay for his crimes in that way, the more chance there is that this will itself help to act as a deterrent.
I feel that at this early stage I should say that I will not go along with my noble friend in what he has suggested about nothing having been done for the victim. He has himself already referred to the existing non-statutory scheme, and he has quoted a set of figures about the amount paid out in compensation in the past year of the criminal injuries compensation board's work. We see from the 14th Report up to 31st March 1978 that in the years 1975 to 1976 there was a total of 16,690 claimants. In the following year, 1976 to 1977, it was 20,400; and in the year after that, 1977 to 1978, 20,826. Of course, the scheme covers both England, Scotland and Wales. The board said in that report that they were budgeting for 22,100 applications in the year 1978 to 1979.
Since the scheme began on 1st August 1964, as the report points out, over £502 million has been paid out. In the past three reported complete years-1975–76, 1976–77 and 1977–78—the amounts were £6,476,000-odd; £9,677,000-odd; and in the year which my noble friend quoted, £10,106,513. So not only have sizeable sums been paid out, not only have sizeable numbers of unfortunate victims been compensated and cared for by the board in what I venture to submit is a very humane way, but these numbers and the amount paid out have been going up all the time as well. We are now talking in terms of a scheme which costs in excess of £14 million. Of course we can expect its work to increase as time goes on, whether or not it is turned into a 239 statutory body. I go along with my noble friend completely in this matter: there is room and need for improvement in the scheme for compensation. For that reason, among others, I should have liked to be able to give a warm and unqualified welcome to my noble friend's Bill. While I applaud many of his objectives and wholeheartedly support his concern for the victims of violence, as I am sure all of your Lordships do, I much regret not being able to support this particular means of securing improvements.
I shall come in a moment to ways of improving the scheme. First, I should like to deal with some specific points about the Bill. My noble friend has already explained the purpose of his Bill, to make statutory provision for the payment of compensation for injury directly attributable to an act of violence by someone else. There would be a criminal injuries compensation tribunal together with local boards to work out and make the payments. Under the present scheme we have the criminal injuries compensation board, set up in 1964, which makes the ex-gratia payments that we have heard about to those who suffer injuries arising from another's crime. The scheme itself and the detailed basis on which awards are made are clearly set out by the board. On the whole, the system has worked very well indeed. In fact, as a recent report indicated, there has been no major criticism of the way that the work has been carried out. So far as my noble friend's Bill is concerned—and he has made the point himself—this does not appear to alter substantially the circumstances in which compensation would be paid, for those eligible to receive it, nor the amounts to be paid, with perhaps some exceptions.
There is a further point I should like to make about the circumstances in which a claim for compensation might be entertained. In the actual definition of those circumstances there is in fact no mention in the Bill of " crime " or " criminal " but only of " an act of violence ". A reference is made to " a malefactor ". Under the existing scheme—and here I draw on Paragraph 5, D.3 of the statement of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board's own interpretation of the scheme, and I quote— 240A claim must be founded on a crime of violence and no matter how careless are the acts of the person who inflicts the injury, no award will be made unless they constitute a crime ".I am not sure whether the absence of any reference in this context in the body of the Bill to " crime " or " criminal " is inadvertent or not, and of course it is true that the Long and Short Titles of the Bill do themselves contain the word "criminal "; so I assume that that is what is intended.
I should also mention that my noble friend's Bill does not include any reference to the need to report an incident involving violence. At present, the circumstances of the injury should have been the subject of criminal proceedings or have been reported to the police or, exceptionally, in some other way clearly defined, such as to an employer, without delay, although the board may at its discretion waive that reporting requirement.
The main changes the Bill would make would be in the administrative machinery, and I think my noble friend has made that clear. This would undoubtedly cost substantially more than at present, although we do not have any figures to go on. I must confess that I am very doubtful whether the Bill would confer material additional advantages upon the victim of violent crime. Costs would also go up considerably as a result of the provision in the Bill for legal aid. Of course, I can see that this has been included from the best of motives and I must also confess to being somewhat torn about this provision.
Here I had better declare an interest: I practise at the Bar and the prospect of more work for my profession is, to say the least, not an unattractive one. Far be it from me to want to deny my learned friends a feast—indeed, I do not know quite what is going to happen to me after this when I get back to my own chambers! But, in all seriousness, I wonder whether, in this particular sphere, legal representation is really necessary generally, and whether the cost of it can really be justified. There is already provision for a friend or representative to go along, as my noble friend has already pointed out. One of the great advantages of the present scheme is its comparatively informal procedure, and I think it works efficiently as well as reasonably economically. Under the Bill, legal representation would be bound to 241 become normal practice, but I doubt whether this would be justified.
Again, on the administrative side, there are a number of features missing from the Bill which would seem to be essential for a statutory scheme. For example, the Bill does not lay down the constitution nor the functions of the local boards which would consider the initial applications; nor does it define their procedures or include powers to make rules laying down those procedures. It gives no indication of the basis on which compensation should he assessed and there is no clear rationale for including in the Bill some aspects of the tribunal's work while leaving other aspects to rules to be made by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor.
A great deal of work has obviously gone into the drafting of this Bill, and that is highly commendable; but one is bound to conclude that the Bill, as drafted, contains substantial defects and, although it is always possible to carry out a tidying-up operation in Committee, I fear I am very doubtful whether it would be possible to remedy these in that way.
There is one other matter which should be considered before deciding whether the time has come to put the scheme on a statutory footing. That is that certain quite significant changes were announced recently in the present non-statutory scheme, following a thorough review of the scheme. On 19th March this year, my right honourable friend the then Home Secretary, Mr. Merlyn Rees, announced in another place that the then Government intended to extend the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme to victims of violence within the family—they had been ineligible before—and several other improvements were proposed too. That followed the last Government's consideration of the report of an interdepartmental body, which I think was referred to by my noble friend. It was set up in 1973 by the then Home Secretary, now the noble Lord, Lord Carr of Hadley. That report, Review of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme: Report of an Interdepartmental Working Party, was published in March last year. I believe it was a model of clarity and presentation. The investigation itself was systematic and the findings were set out in a way which made for ease of reference.
242 In his announcement, my right honourable friend the then Home Secretary said:…in view of the considerable public concern over ' battered ' women and cnildren, the Government have decided to extend the scheme to victims of violence within the family, subject to the safeguards recommended by the working party and on an experimental basis in the first instance.The proposed safeguards are that applications should normally be considered by the board in cases of family violence only where the offender has been prosecuted for the relevant assault, that the injuries should be sufficiently serious to justify compensation of at least £500, and that the board should he satisfied that the offender would not benefit from the award.A revised scheme will be brought into effect as soon as the necessary administrative arrangements have been made. The scheme will remain non-statutory until there has been sufficient experience both of the revised provisions and of the operation of the extension to victims of family violence, to enable a statutory scheme to be drafted without any risk of a need for early amendment. Legislation to put the criminal injuries compensation scheme on a statutory basis will then be introduced when a suitable opportunity occurs ".My right honourable friend also announced the Government's acceptance, subject to minor modifications, of the Working Party's other recommendations, most of which related to administrative improvements in the scheme; and he said the Government accepted those recommendations of the Royal Commission on Civil Liability and Compensation for Personal Injury, chaired by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson—that is the Pearson Commission--relating to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme itself.
§ The Earl of LONGFORD
My Lords, may I intervene? He did in fact make some very ambiguous remarks about the report in that statement quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Boston, about the findings of the Pearson Commission. The fact is that the Pearson Commission unequivocally said that the scheme ought to be made statutory. The Home Secretary said that he accepted the Pearson Commission. I am afraid I found a complete contradiction between those points of views.
§ Lord BOSTON of FAVERSHAM
My Lords, as has happened on previous occasions, my noble friend has, with his customary expertise, anticipated passages in my speech. Also this afternoon we may be privileged to hear—if he will forgive the expression—from the horse's 243 mouth something about these recommendations themselves. My right honourable friend indicated that he accepted those recommendations relating to the scheme, including—this was the point I was about to make before my noble friend's intervention—the suggestion that it be made statutory. That was made clear not only in another place on 19th March but also in a Press statement which was released by the Home Office jointly for my right honourable friends the then Home Secretary and the then Secretary of State for Scotland. The working party made 52 recommendations and your Lordships will be relieved to know that I shall not go through them all. Some were far more far-reaching than others. For example, No. 7 said that there should be a formal avenue of appeal to the courts from decisions of the board on points of law, and No. 9 said that the administrative aspects of the work of the board and its staff should be subject to the supervision of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration: quite a significant recommendation.
I have just one question to put to the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, who will be replying to this debate, about those recommendations and the announcement of my right honourable friend. I wonder whether he can say whether the Government intend to go ahead with the changes announced in March. I realise that there might not yet have been time to decide finally, but I hope he may be able to give some indication of how things stand tonight.
It is important to press ahead with improvements to the scheme, and my noble friend Lord Longford is to be complimented most warmly for seeking further reforms. That, too, was the precise and practical purpose of the last Government's recent decision, which included changes, some on an experimental basis, and the need to see how those worked out, before putting the whole scheme into legislative form. That decision prepared the ground for the period ahead for very valuable and, indeed, significant advances to continue and to increase the care provided for victims of crime. So our advice would be, as it was in March, to speed ahead with the reforms proposed and then see how those work out before embarking on legislation.