HL Deb 21 October 2002 vol 639 cc78-9WA
Lord Lester of Herne Hill

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will take action to alleviate the position referred to by the Court of Appeal as "harsh" in its judgment of 29 May in Matthews v Ministry of Defence as regards the exercise of the power to revive Section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947, where "servicemen who are now discovering that they have sustained injury as a result of tortious conduct prior to 1987 should be treated so less favourably that servicemen who have sustained injury in similar circumstances, but as a result of more recent events." [HL5891]

Lord Bach

The case ofMatthews v Ministry of Defence, which tested the compatibility of Section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947 with the claimant's rights under Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights, was heard in the Court of Appeal on 22 and 23 April 2002. A unanimous judgment was handed down by Lord Phillips, Master of the Rolls, on 29 May. The Court of Appeal found in favour of the MoD but granted leave for the claimant to take the matter to the House of Lords. A date has not been set for the hearing.

When Parliament debated the repeal of Section 10, the question of retrospection was considered, and motions to allow all past and present members of HM Forces to pursue compensation claims for injury or death were moved. They were defeated or withdrawn. The view then, as it is now, was that there is no logical point at which to draw a line, short of trying to cover all types of injury going back to 1947, and this would create more examples of unfairness and injustice. The Government, therefore, have no plans to introduce legislation to allow ex-service personnel suffering illness or injury before May 1987 to be paid common-law compensation.

Compensation in the form of a war pension is, however, available to all former members of HM Forces suffering from service-attributable illness or injury. War pensions are paid by the Veterans Agency and are non-discretionary, not means-tested, and are made on a no-fault, tax free and retrospective basis. They are uprated annually.

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