HC Deb 24 June 1964 vol 697 cc89-94W
Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a further statement about the scheme for compensating victims of crimes of violence.

Mr. Brooke

Yes. The Secretary of State for Scotland and I have considered very carefully all the points raised in the debates in this House and in another place on the White Paper (Cmnd. 2323) on Compensation for Victims of Crimes of Violence. We have decided to make a number of amendments to the compensation scheme outlined in the White Paper. The amended scheme is set out below. The principal changes to which I should call attention are:

(1) The Board will be know as the "Criminal Injuries Compensation Board" (paragraph 1).

(2) Provision is made for the Board to publish such information about the scheme and their decisions in individual cases as may assist intending applicants for compensation (paragraph 4).

(3) The scope of the scheme is more precisely defined; the circumstances in which applications not arising directly from criminal offences may be entertained are somewhat extended (paragraph 5(a)); and the exclusion of offences against members of the offender's household is to be limited to those committed against a member of the offender's family living with him at the time (paragraph 7).

(4) The paragraphs dealing with the basis of compensation have been rearranged to distinguish more clearly between applications from living victims (paragraph 10) and those from spouses and dependants of deceased victims (paragraph 11); and in respect of living victims awards for loss of expectation of happiness are not excluded.

His Honour Kelly Carter, Q.C., the Senior Official Referee, has agreed to serve as Chairman of the Board. I hope to be in a position to announce the other members shortly. The Board will entertain applications in respect of injuries incurred on or after 1st August, 1964; naturally it may not be able to deal with the earliest applications as expeditiously as when it has gained greater experience.

The amended scheme is as follows:




1. The compensation scheme will be administered by a body to be known as the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board which will be appointed by the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland, after consultation with the Lord Chancellor. The Chairman will be a person of wide legal experience, and the other members, of whom there will initially be five, will also be legally qualified. The Board will be assisted by appropriate staff, who will sift applications for compensation, make preliminary enquiries and deal with correspondence (see paragraphs 15 and 16 below). They will be able to obtain medical advice as necessary.

2. The Board will be provided with money through a Grant-in-Aid out of which payments will be made to applicants for compensation where the Board are satisfied, in accordance with the principles set out below, that compensation is justified. Their net expenditure will fall on the Votes of the Home Office and the Scottish Home and Health Department.

3. The Board will be based on London but may establish offices outside London if the need arises. They will hold hearings in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and elsewhere as necessary.

4. The Board will be entirely responsible for deciding what compensation should be paid in individual cases and their decisions will not be subject to appeal or to Ministerial review. The general working of the scheme will, however, be kept under review by the Government, and the Board will submit annually to the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland a full report on the operation of the scheme, together with their accounts. The report and accounts will be open to debate in Parliament. In addition the Board may at any time publish such information about the scheme and their decisions in individual cases as may assist intending applicants for compensation.

Scope of Scheme

5. The Board will entertain applications for ex gratia payment of compensation in those cases where:—

  1. (a) the applicant, or, in the case of an application by a spouse or dependant (see paragraph 11 below), the deceased, suffered personal injury directly attributable either to a criminal offence or to an arrest or attempted arrest of an offender or suspected offender or to the prevention or attempted prevention of an offence or to the giving of help to any constable who is engaged in arresting or attempting to arrest an offender or suspected offender or preventing or attempting to prevent an offence, where such injury occurs in Great Britain or on a British vessel or aircraft.
  2. (b) the injury was incurred after the commencement of the scheme; and
  3. (c) the injury gave rise to at least three weeks' loss of earnings or is an injury for which compensation of not less than £50 would be awarded; and
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  5. (d) the circumstances of the injury have been reported to the police without delay or have been the subject of criminal proceedings in the courts; and
  6. (e) the applicant is prepared to submit to such medical examination as the Board may require.

6. The Board will scrutinise with particular care all applications in respect of sexual offences or other offences arising out of a sexual relationship, in order to determine whether there was any responsibility, either because of provocation or otherwise, on the part of the victim (see paragraph 12 below), and they will especially have regard to any delay that has occurred in submitting the application. Provided, however, that the circumstances have been immediately reported to the police, the Board will consider applications for compensation arising out of rape and sexual assaults, both in respect of pain, suffering and shock and in respect of loss of earnings due to pregnancy resulting from rape and, where the victim is ineligible for a maternity grant under the National Insurance Scheme, in respect of the expenses of childbirth. Compensation will not be payable for the maintenance of any child born as a result of a sexual offence.

7. Offences committed against a member of the offender's family living with him at the time will be excluded altogether.

8. Motoring offences will also be excluded from the scheme, except where the motor vehicle has been used as a weapon—i.e. in a deliberate attempt to run the victim down.

Basis of Compensation

9. Subject to what is said in the following two paragraphs, compensation will be assessed on the basis of common law damages and will take the form of a lump sum payment, rather than a periodical pension. More than one payment may, however, sometimes be made —for example, where only a provisional medical assessment can be given in the first instance.

10. Where the victim is alive the amount of compensation will be limited as follows:—

  1. (a) the rate of loss of earnings (and, where appropriate, of earning 93 capacity) to be taken into account will not exceed twice the average of industrial earnings * at the time that the injury was sustained;
  2. (b) there will be no element comparable to exemplary or punitive damages.

11. Where the victim has died, no compensation will be payable for the benefit of his estate, but the Board will be able to entertain claims from his spouse and dependants. For this purpose, compensation will be payable to any person entitled to claim under the Fatal Accidents Acts 1846 to 1959 or, in Scotland, under the corresponding Scottish law. The amount of compensation will be governed by the same principles as under those provisions; the total income of the deceased, earned and unearned, to be taken into account being subject to the limit specified in paragraph 10(a) above. Where the victim's funeral expenses are paid by a person who is ineligible for a death grant under the National Insurance Scheme, the Board may award that person a sum in compensation equivalent to the appropriate death grant.

12. The Board will consider whether, because of provocation or otherwise, the victim of the crime bears any share of responsibility for it, and in accordance with its assessment of the degree of responsibility, will reduce the amount of compensation or reject the claim altogether.

13. Where applicable, the compensation will also be reduced by the amount of any payments from public funds accruing, as a result of the injury or death, to the benefit of the person to whom the award is made.

14. The Board will have discretion to make special arrangements for the administration of any sum payable to an infant.

Procedure for determining applications

15. Every application will be made in writing, as soon as possible after the event, to the Board (who will draw up a suitable form for the convenience of applicants).

* Average Weekly Earnings for Men (21 years and over) as published in the Ministry of Labour Gazette.

16. Applications will be sifted initially by the Board's staff who will, where necessary, seek further information as to the relevant circumstances.

17. The initial decision whether the application should be allowed (and, if so, what amount of compensation should be offered), or should be rejected (for example, because preliminary investigation suggests that the injury is not serious or is not within the scope of the scheme, or that the applicant was to blame or that the application is fraudulent), will be taken by one member of the Board, who will communicate his conclusions to the applicant. If the applicant is not satisfied with that decision, whether because no compensation is offered or because he considers the amount offered to be inadequate, he will be entitled to a hearing before three members of the Board, excluding the one who made the initial decision.

18. At the hearing, it will be for the applicant to make out his case; he and a member of the Board's staff will be able to call, examine and cross-examine witnesses. The Board will reach their decision solely in the light of the evidence brought out at the hearing, and all the information before them will be available to the applicant. While it will be open to the applicant to bring a friend or legal adviser to assist him in putting his case, the Board will not pay the costs of legal representation. They will, however, have discretion to pay the expenses of witnesses whose attendance is considered to be necessary.

19. Procedure at a hearing will be as informal as is consistent with a proper determination of the application, and the hearing will be in private.

Recovery from the Offender

20. It is not intended that if a person pursues a claim at common law for damages for personal injury he should obtain compensation from the Board in addition to obtaining satisfaction from that claim. Accordingly a person who has been compensated by the Board will be required to undertake to repay them from any damages or settlement he may obtain as a result of a common law claim.