Select Committee on Regulatory Reform Eleventh Report


The Regulatory Reform Committee[1] has agreed to the following Report:



  1. On 29th April 2002 the Government laid before Parliament the draft Regulatory Reform (Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979) Order 2002, together with an explanatory memorandum by the Department for Work and Pensions.[2] We have already reported on the Government's proposal for this draft Order, which would extend the circumstances in which a claim under the Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979 ("the 1979 Act") can be made.[3]

"First-stage" scrutiny and changes made to the draft Order

  2. We concluded that the proposal should be amended before a draft Order was laid before the House. The amendments which we proposed were, however, of a minor drafting nature only.[4] We are pleased to note that those amendments have been incorporated into the draft Order which is now before the House. A further minor drafting amendment, designed to clarify the intention of article 5 of the draft Order, has also been made;[5] we are content with that change.

Other representations received by the Department

  3. The Department reports that it received representations from the Association of Parents of Vaccine Damaged Children, Lord Ashley of Stoke and Ian Stewart MP during the period for Parliamentary consideration.[6] These representations concerned those who failed to claim within the six-year period allowed for by the Act and who will not be enabled to claim under the revised legislation following passage of this Order. Similar representations were made to us during our consideration of the proposal for this Order.[7]

4.   Noting that claims from cases vaccinated back to 1948 were accepted within 6 years of the scheme's introduction, the Department argued in response that overlaying new provisions on those original provisions would go far beyond putting past and future claimants in an equal position. Achieving such an equal position was the intention behind the transitional claim provisions, it states; removing the "age 21 at the time of the original claim or advice" qualification from transitional claimants would place that group in an advantageous position over future claimants. The Department does not therefore believe that the transitional claims provisions should be extended to cover all cases where the original claim was outside the 6 year time limit, regardless of the then age of the vaccinated person.

5.   We ourselves did not examine the merits of the arguments put forward by the Association of Parents of Vaccine Damaged Children, since they concerned matters of policy unconnected with the regulatory reform criteria. Whilst we appreciated, and to some degree sympathised with, consultees' desire for the Government to go further in relaxing the conditions for payment under the Act, our role under the Standing Order was confined to ensuring that the Government had responded appropriately to the points made. We were satisfied that it had done so.[8]

6.   Nevertheless, bearing in mind that it was only proper that honourable Members should have the opportunity to consider matters such as these should they wish to do so, we drew attention to the procedures available for debate on regulatory reform proposals and draft orders. Those procedures included the provision in Standing Orders for this Committee to invite Members of the House who are not Members of the Committee to attend meetings at which witnesses are being examined; and for such Members, at the discretion of the Chairman, to ask questions of those witnesses.[9] We reported that should any Member, now or in the future, wish to make representations to us that the procedure should be used in any particular case, we would of course consider those representations, and if appropriate make arrangements for a hearing before the Committee. One such representation was made to us in connection with this draft Order; but it was later withdrawn.


  7. The Department notes that it intends to take a number of steps to publicise the new arrangements. We welcome those steps, and we hope that as many as possible of those eligible will take the opportunity to make claims under the revised legislation.

Report under Standing Order No. 141

  8. We recommend unanimously that the draft Order be approved.

1   Previously the Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Committee. Back

2   Copies are available to Members from the Vote Office and to members of the public from the Department for Work and Pensions. It is also available on the Cabinet Office website http://www.cabinet­ proposals.htm. Back

3   Ninth Report from the Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Committee, Session 2001-02 (HC 708). Back

4   ibid, paras 15, 41, 42. Back

5   Explanatory statement, para 17. Back

6   ibid.  Back

7   Ninth Report, op cit, para 26. Back

8   ibid, para 27. Back

9   Standing Order No. 141(13); see Ninth Report, op cit, para 28. Back

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