HC Deb 23 July 1979 vol 971 cc17-8W
Mr. Lawrence

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are his intentions with regard to the future of the criminal injuries compensation scheme; whether he has any plans for addditional help for the victims of crime; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Whitelaw

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have decided to publish a revised scheme based on the recommendations of the interdepartmental working party whose review of the criminal injuries compensation scheme was published last year. The revised scheme, which will come into effect on 1 October 1979, is set out below. The principal change to which I should call attention is the extension of the scheme to the victims of family violence. This will be on an experimental basis only in the first instance and the safeguards included to guard against the possibility of collusion or abuse will be reviewed in the light of experience. Other changes are mainly of a procedural nature and do not substantially alter the amount of compensation payable except that the limit on earnings which may be taken into account in assessing compensation has been raised.

The Government accept the recommendation of the Royal Commission on civil liability and compensation for personal injury that the scheme should be made statutory but do not intend to introduce the relevant legislation until there has been sufficient experience of the revised scheme to enable any problems to be identified and solved. The Government also accept the Royal Commission's recommendation that compensation under the scheme should continue to be based on tort damages and will consider applying to the scheme any changes in tort damages which may be made as a result of the Royal Commission's other recommendations.

The Government are determined to see that the victims of crime are not over- looked. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services and I have jointly agreed to give grant aid towards the administrative costs of the National Association of Victims' support schemes, which will set standards for and offer help and advice to the many local victims' support schemes at present being set up throughout the country. In addition, I am about to issue revised guidance to magistrates' courts in England and Wales on lines recommended by the Magistrates' Association replacing previous Home Office advice which was to the effect that in order to give the offender a fresh start, compensation orders outstanding against young offenders sentenced to borstal training or to detention in a detention centre should not normally be enforced. The revised guidance will place the emphasis on continued effort to secure the enforcement of the order in the interests of the victim.