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Criminal Injuries Compensation

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): We have today introduced the Criminal Injuries Compensation Bill.

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The Bill provides a power to establish a new criminal injuries compensation scheme. It also repeals the provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which, if implemented, would have put the old, common law damages scheme on to a statutory footing.

Following the judgment of the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords, which was delivered on 5 April, we have been giving very careful thought to the arrangements which should be made for compensating those who have the misfortune to be injured as a result of a crime of violence.

The judgment related to the method of introduction of the tariff scheme, not its merits. The effect of the judgment was to require the 1990 common law damages scheme to be reinstated in place of the tariff-based approach which had been introduced on 1 April 1994. The costs of the common law damages scheme have risen very substantially since the scheme was first introduced in 1964 and more than doubled in real terms between 1987–88 and 1993–94. Although improvements have been made in administration of the scheme, we believe that a tariff-based approach offers greater scope for further improvement and the speedier settlement of cases. We remain of the view, therefore, that steps need to be taken to constrain future expenditure and to ensure that a quicker service is provided. This cannot be achieved within the framework of a system based entirely upon common law principles. We therefore remain of the view that the 1990 common law damages scheme should be replaced by a new tariff-based approach.

We have, however, considered very carefully the concerns which have been expressed about the effect which such an approach may have on those who are most seriously injured. We all have immense sympathy for such victims and the Government are anxious to do all that they can to safeguard their position. We have therefore come to the view that the tariff-based approach should be enhanced to provide payment for loss of earnings and special care for those who are incapacitated for more than 28 weeks (the period during which statutory sick pay is payable). We also propose that there should be provision for loss of dependency/support in fatal cases. In addition we propose that structured settlements should be available: these will greatly help those receiving the higher awards by providing a guaranteed, index linked, tax free income for life, thus considerably increasing the net benefit of the award for many victims.

We believe that a scheme of this sort will be fair while at the same time providing a mechanism for controlling future expenditure. Further details of the proposed scheme are set out in a paper entitled Criminal Injuries Compensation: proposals for a Tariff Based Scheme which has been placed in the Library.

Ours is the most generous compensation scheme in the world. We pay out more compensation than all other European countries added together. That will remain the case under our new proposals.

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Animal Procedures Committee

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What appointments they have made recently to the Animal Procedures Committee.

Baroness Blatch: We have appointed the following persons to be members of the Animal Procedures Committee for four years with effect from 1 May: (i) Miss Cindy Millburn, Special Projects Director, World Society for the Protection of Animals. (ii) Dr. Jacqueline Southee, Manager, In-vitro Toxicology, Microbiological Associates Ltd. (iii) Mr. Les Ward, Director, Advocates for Animals.

Child Support Bill: Keeling Schedule

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish a Keeling Schedule to show how the Child Support Bill, at present before Parliament, amends the Child Support Act 1991.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): Yes, we will publish an informal version of a Keeling Schedule. We will make available a copy of the full Child Support Act 1991 to show how it is amended by the Child Support Bill (as reprinted on entering the House of Lords). Copies will be made available to all Front Bench spokesmen and others will be placed in the Library and Printed Paper Office.

Every effort will be made to ensure that the draft is accurate, but since it will be made available by the Department of Social Security and not the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, it should not be taken as an authoritative statement of the legislation.

Climate Change Programme: Promotion of Energy Efficiency

Lord Wade of Chorlton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they will take to enhance the climate change programme following the recent announcement concerning the fossil fuel levy.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): My right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade has announced that he proposes to privatise parts of Nuclear Electric during 1996, and at the same time to end payments from the fossil fuel levy to the company ahead of the original schedule. Our climate change programme and recently published forecasts assumed the original schedule for the termination of these payments.

Early termination will mean that electricity prices will fall sooner than anticipated, which may result in some corresponding increase in the output of carbon dioxide in the short term. We are determined to ensure that we

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sustain momentum for increased energy efficiency, and continue to give the strong lead we have established internationally on climate change, most recently at the first conference of parties to the Climate Change Convention in Berlin. We are therefore pleased to announce that we shall make available to the Energy Saving Trust an additional £25 million a year to promote energy efficiency measures, from 1996 until the gas and electricity markets are fully liberalised.

Following an earlier announcement of support for its running costs, the Energy Saving Trust is currently drawing up new plans. We intend to invite the trust to

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use the coming year to prepare a number of cost effective proposals for our consideration. We will make money available for the best ones within the £25 million ceiling.

We shall be looking for innovative pump-priming schemes involving all fuels, which require funding to get started and which are designed to take advantage of and enhance the effectiveness of the developing competitive markets for energy and energy services. We shall be looking for a positive emphasis on demand-side management measures and on the development of energy services companies.



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