HL Deb 22 July 1988 vol 499 cc1688-9

322 Schedule 7, page 122, leave out line 11 and insert 'for which no person wholly or partly pays except'.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I beg to move that this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 322 and I should like to speak to Amendment No. 323 at the same time.

Under the present scheme, insurance benefits and pension rights may be disregarded by the board in assessing compensation but only where they accrue solely as the result of payments by the victim or a dependant. Amendments Nos. 322 and 323 are designed to make it clear that benefits from private insurance or pension arrangements which have been wholly paid for jointly by the applicant and spouse will not be deductible from awards made by the board.

Moved, That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 322.—(Earl Ferrers.)

Lord Irvine of Lairg

My Lords, I must confess that I was sorely disappointed when I read these amendments. My first impression was that they would do something to correct one of the more undesirable and mean-minded aspects of this part of the Bill. But on the contrary, when one reads them carefully, what one sees is that they make it even clearer that there will be set off against the compensation payable by the Board any insurance or pension payment which results, even to a small extent, from the payment of premiums or contributions by an employer.

If the victim has paid all the premiums himself, he gets his full compensation. But if his employer has paid even a small contribution, the whole of the benefit is deducted from the board's award. In Committee, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cameron of Lochbroom, undertook to consider further what is an obvious injustice. I submit that the amendments are deeply unsatisfactory as they underscore this injustice rather than remove it.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, the noble Lord is perfectly correct that where compensation can be paid as a result of insurance it is considered that that in itself is not reason enough to get additional compensation from the board. In other words, if companies have taken out insurance policies for their employees to cover exactly this type of thing, that insurance cover should cover the employees and there should not be a call on public funds as well, except in the case where a person has taken out his own insurance or where the spouse has taken out an insurance on behalf of the other partner.