HL Deb 25 March 1999 vol 598 cc181-2WA
Lord Acton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have to amend the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. [HL1759]

Lord Williams of Mostyn

We looked afresh at the scheme as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review. The review recommended no changes to the basic structure of the scheme. In the financial settlement following the review more money was made available for the scheme, with the aim of ensuring that the number of cases settled equalled or exceeded the number of new applications received so that the number of cases outstanding remained broadly constant or fell. We want to see the resources now available used as effectively as possible for the benefit of victims and taxpayers alike.

We are accordingly undertaking a public consultation exercise inviting views on whether and, if so, how the scheme might be refined or improved within the parameters of the present tariff-based arrangements and the financial provision set for the next three years.

A consultation document entitled Compensation for Victims of Violent Crime—Possible changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is accordingly being sent to a wide range of practitioners, interested organisations and the media. The document will be made available to other enquirers on request. Copies have been placed in the Library.

The consultation document sets out the background to, and rationale for, the scheme. It summarises historical details for applications received and awards paid, and sets out performance plans for the coming three-year financial cycle. It offers suggestions on how the tariff of injuries might be changed to improve internal consistency and to make it more comprehensive, and summarises a number of other suggestions put forward at various times on what other changes might be made. It also identifies ways in which scheme resources could be released to pay for changes considered desirable if the cost of those changes exceeded the provision available.

The consultation document invites comment by mid-June. After that we will analyse carefully the responses received and consider how best to take matters forward.

In the interim, I have today laid before parliament a draft of alterations to the scheme, seeking to add additional injury descriptions to the tariff of awards. This is without prejudice to the consultation exercise. The purpose is the limited one of enabling the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority to settle outstanding claims from applicants whose injuries are not currently listed in the tariff but which are considered sufficiently serious to qualify for at least the minimum award of £1, 000. The proposed changes require approval by the affirmative resolution procedure before they can take effect.