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Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: I have heard what has been said and, if I may put it in the vernacular, I know when I am beaten. However, I wish to make one or two brief remarks with reference to the comments that have been made. Perhaps I may say, first, to the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay of Bragar, that of course if there is a maximum figure someone may ask, "Why haven't I got the maximum?", and there may be appeals from people who believe that they should have been awarded the maximum amount. However, I believe that many people will appeal saying, "You may say that my scarring is significant but I say that it is serious". I do not believe that one is avoiding appeals by taking bands rather than categories, which I believe will encourage people always to argue that they are in the highest category. That is particularly the case when they see that the amount is not £500 but £4,000 or more depending on the use of a word.

I have looked at the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. I differ from him as regards the best way to achieve flexibility. With great respect, he is going a lot further outside the tariff system than I

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was attempting to do. I was attempting to provide a degree of flexibility within the tariff system. Of course, the noble Lord would take out of the system entirely all the sexual, shock and multiple injury offences. He prefers the hybrid system. I had rather accepted that the argument for that had been lost at an earlier stage.

The noble Lord's proposal for a percentage within which the tariff could be moved means that every type of accident and injury to any individual would have to be assessed individually, whether it was within the 10 per cent., 20 per cent. or 50 per cent. band. I notice also that the bands proposed by the noble Lord all go upwards rather than downwards. The Government will not find that acceptable for that reason. That is why I proposed an alternative method to provide flexibility in those three closely defined areas. But as I say, I know when the feeling of the Committee is against me. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 6.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 7 not moved.]

Lord Bethell moved Amendment No. 8:


Page 2, line 7, at end insert ("and loss of pension rights").

The noble Lord said: At the outset I should declare my interest in that I am one of the advisers to the Police Federation of England and Wales. I should inform the Committee that I have spoken to the federation before deciding to table the amendment.

Of course, this Bill is not aimed specifically at the police and helping the police but one should bear in mind the fact that 16,000 police officers are assaulted every year; that many of them are injured seriously; and that in 1994 over 3,000 claims were submitted on behalf of police officers to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Therefore, the police service is particularly concerned about the issue of compensation for criminal injuries and the amendment which I have put before the Committee.

Police officers tend to retire earlier than people in other walks of life. It is their duty to remain physically very fit and therefore it is normal for a police officer, unless he reaches senior ranks, to retire at the age of 55 or after 30 years. Therefore, any injury to the body and mind of a police officer is likely to hasten retirement or make more likely forcible retirement.

I wish to draw to the attention of the Committee to Clause 2 of the Bill which states:


    "The amount of compensation payable under an award shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of the Scheme...Provision shall be made for...an additional amount of compensation calculated with respect to loss of earnings".

This amendment proposes that the words:


    "and loss of pension rights"

should be added. I believe that loss of pension rights is as important to the award of compensation to a victim of criminal injury as is loss of earnings. Bearing in mind the fact that pension receipts will be set off against loss of earnings, it seems unfair that a victim will not also be able to claim compensation for the loss of those pension rights. Any claim put to the board should take into account the fact that an injured officer's pension as well as his earnings has been reduced sharply because he was forced to leave the service early.

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This amendment takes into account the fact that the earlier any such calamity occurs, when a victim is so badly injured that he must retire, the greater is the loss of pension rights, simply because he accrues those rights by length of service.

I believe that wounded police officers and other victims should be enabled to receive the full benefit of the pension that they would have earned had they continued to serve until normal retirement age. There are signs that the Government accept that principle. My honourable friend Mr. David Maclean, in a letter dated 27th September, informed the Police Federation of England and Wales that his view was that a police officer should have his loss of pension taken into account when the claim is assessed.

At the moment it seems that the question of pension rights is not addressed by the Bill or the draft scheme. I wonder whether my noble friend will assure me either that she will accept the amendment or that it will be included in the scheme. If it is to be in the scheme, are we to take it that the scheme thus changed—thus improved, I would suggest—will be put before your Lordships and another place as envisaged by Amendment No. 61? In other words, can we take it that if the spirit of the amendment is to be included in the scheme it will eventually become not just a guideline but also part of the law of the land? I await with interest my noble friend's reply.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Ackner: I support the amendment on the very simple basis that pensions are deferred pay. One's remuneration package consists of one's instant, immediate pay and the pension, which is merely pay deferred until retirement. Accordingly, if compensation is to include loss of earnings, it should include both loss of one's immediate, weekly pay and one's deferred pay, which is one's pension.

Lord Ewing of Kirkford: This amendment opens up a very wide field indeed. If the Committee is to discuss the whole question of loss of pension rights because of criminal injuries, the principle must extend way beyond the police forces. In your Lordship's House there is no greater supporter than I of the police, but once we begin to create special categories in legislation we lay all sorts of minefields for ourselves.

Even in the police force itself it must be remembered that when a police officer retires he receives his pension the day after he retires, at whatever age he may be. That is not true of all other people who are entitled to occupational pensions. There are many instances in which people retire early because of ill health or for some other reason but they do not receive their pension until they reach pensionable age. That is not true in the case of police officers.

Nor is it true or accurate to say that police officers retiring early retire only because of criminal injuries. There is a whole host of reasons for that. Perhaps I may take the example of the Hillsborough disaster. That was a regrettable incident at Hillsborough football park in Sheffield where police officers were subsequently retired, not because they were injured in that disaster but

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because psychologically they could no longer handle the situations which they faced. Where do they fit in with the amendment?

I want to make it clear that I am in favour of pension rights being taken into account in the settlement of such injuries and of the consideration that is given to the victims of crimes. However, I am in favour of that principle for all people and not just one category because that begins to divide society. That is the last thing that we should be doing especially in relation to criminal injuries.

Lord Ackner: With the leave of the Committee, I should like to make it clear that my support for the amendment was based upon its general application because it does not seek to point out or emphasise the police. Indeed, as I understood it, the noble Lord, Lord Bethel, was merely using the police as an example. My comment that pension is deferred pay is of general application and my support for the amendment was based upon the proposition that it is illogical to limit the compensation to the immediate loss of pay and to remove from it deferred pay.

Baroness Blatch: Perhaps I may speak now in order to assist Members of the Committee. My noble friend has given good reasons for such a provision relating to a particular category of victim, while other speakers have mentioned the general point. I am happy to be able to tell the Committee that we do consider that the loss of pension rights are included within the scope of the term "loss of earnings". The draft scheme will be amended before presentation to Parliament to make that clear. Therefore, it will be generally applied. In the light of that assurance, I hope that I have allayed all the anxieties on the matter.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: If I may say so, that is all very well; indeed, I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Bethel, will be pleased with the Minister's answer. However, there are two kinds of effects on pensions of an injury caused by crime. One is that the person concerned receives a pension early because he or she can no longer work. The other is that, at the end of a normal working life, someone who has been injured is able to work but is no longer able to achieve promotion or undertake a certain kind of job. The pension is, therefore, diminished as a result of the injury.

We considered whether to put the pension elements of the scheme on the face of the Bill in the form of an amendment, but paragraph 35 of the scheme is so dense that it is virtually impossible to understand what it means. There is still an anomaly in paragraph 35 of the scheme. It says that an award will be offset—that is, the amount will be reduced—by the amount of any pension arising from the injury. In other words, if someone takes early retirement and has a pension, that will be offset and then there is special provision as to whether or not the payment is taxable.

However, if a pension is contributed to entirely by an individual—that is, by the applicant—it is not offset. That distinction does not seem to be fair. I say that because an occupational pension is usually a combination of payments by the individual and by the

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employer. I am not suggesting for one moment that the Minister should attempt to answer the issue now because it is not referred to in the noble Lord's amendment; but perhaps the noble Baroness would give consideration to the point about the fairness between self-employed or self-contributory pension schemes and jointly contributed occupational pension schemes.


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