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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: With the best will in the world, I call that a defence of despair. The Minister has done nothing to defend the tariff that is before us except to say that it is transparent. If the only justification for the tariff is transparency, it may be that it is transparent because there is nothing there.

In these amendments we do not propose a fundamental departure from the tariff for physical injury. We may have to do that for certain kinds of injury, and my noble and learned friend Lord Archer will refer to that later. But, so far as concerns physical injury, we accept that the tariff is a gallant attempt to categorise the enormous complexity of different types of injury which may occur as a result of crime.

The Minister is right to say that there is no difference between "left" and "right". She is also right in saying that, if one were to be logical about the matter, we say that we are being too generous. If I were to lose my right hand, it is less serious than if the Minister were to lose her right hand and I should be paid less. The actual amount will depend on the budget for the scheme, inflation and all sorts of things. But the Minister has never sought to deny that there is a real difference between the dominant upper limb and—whatever the alternative is—the "recessive" in genetic terms upper limb. I believe that she has not answered that question.

In these amendments we are not departing from the principle of the tariff. We accept that there has to be some form of an enhanced tariff. We accept that in certain circumstances the loss of earnings payment will compensate for particular difficulties and extra expenses. But, once we have accepted that there has to be a tariff, surely it is right that the tariff should be as

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close as possible to reality. What we propose is not a departure from the tariff but an extra dimension for certain elements of the tariff.

When introducing his amendments earlier, the noble Lord, Lord Carlisle, said that he was suspicious of our amendments because they would open too much of the tariff to additional payments. I do not believe that, if one looks at the wording, that is the case. It would be evidence that a very large number of injuries in the tariff are not susceptible to change by age, sex, occupation or dominance. It is only those to which that really does apply, particularly in the case of dominance for upper limbs, that it is a serious issue.

I said at the beginning that I was not wedded to the percentages. Therefore I shall not be caught in the Treasury's trap of being told that I am proposing an additional expenditure of 70 per cent. of £460 million and that that is the Labour Party's policy for the next general election. In case anybody starts adding that to the list, let them forget it, because it will not work.

The Minister has not adequately defended the tariff. It could be made better than it is. It could reflect reality better than it does. The Government are in a better position to try to do that than I am. If they are not willing to do so, I shall try again. Subject to that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 17 not moved.]

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 18:

Page 2, line 26, after ("State") insert ("after consulting such persons or bodies as he considers appropriate").

The noble Lord said: It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I speak also at this time to Amendment No. 67. They both raise the same issue; namely, that there should be proper consultation between the persons or bodies affected by the introduction of the new scheme before the tariff scheme is laid before this Chamber. The noble Baroness the Minister has already spoken in relation to this matter. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: I am not clear why these amendments should be thought to be necessary. If the intention is to require the Secretary of State to consult before changing the tariff, the amendment to Clause 10 would achieve it, making the amendment to Clause 2 unnecessary and superfluous. Accordingly, I shall confine my remarks largely to the Clause 10 amendment.

Clause 10 requires the Secretary of State to lay before Parliament the draft of certain provisions or amendments to the scheme. The Clause 10 amendment would first require him to consult such organisations as appear to him to be representative of interests substantially affected by the proposals and such other persons or organisations as he considers appropriate. I suspect that we can all see the benefits of appropriate and timely consultation. Any well organised administration would want to use its discretion to seek the views of informed individuals and organisations on a particular issue when that was appropriate. But this

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amendment goes further than that and is too prescriptive. It requires consultation before any change to the tariff whether or not such consultation is likely to be helpful either to the Secretary of State or the bodies or persons consulted. I believe that that is a recipe for unnecessary bureaucracy, delay and frustration.

There may well be occasions when a very minor change might need to be made to the tariff, for example, to make a very small technical change to an injury description or to make a minor change to the accompanying notes, which may even emanate from the authority itself. In such circumstances I have no doubt that we would want to consult with the authority and the appeals panel. But I cannot see that any wider consultation is likely to be helpful, if one has to consult simply for the sake of consulting.

In short, I can assure the Committee that we would always want to consult as necessary and appropriate before recommending to Parliament any changes to the tariff. Let us not forget in this connection that under the enhanced tariff scheme the Government are not free to change the tariff administratively. They have first to secure parliamentary approval by the affirmative resolution procedure. With such a safeguard I see no need to put such an unnecessary and overly prescriptive amendment on the face of the Bill. However, I do not want anything I have said in response to the amendment to indicate that we do not regard consultation as an important part of the process.

8.30 p.m.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that comprehensive and informative answer to Amendments Nos. 18 and 67. We appear to be getting into some difficulty as to the difference between the Bill we are considering and the scheme. The scheme is not before the Committee at the moment, as I read it, though I may be wrong. It will come before the Chamber at a later stage. In this debate we appear to be cross-referencing the scheme and the Bill, and we are dealing purely with the Bill.

Can the noble Baroness tell the Committee whether a final consultation date was given in relation to the Bill before us, and if so what that final date was? I am sure that many Members of the Committee have been inundated with information from various organisations—I shall not name them because that would not be fair—concerned with the introduction of the new scheme. Was there a consultation period for the purposes of the Bill? If so, when was the end of that consultation period? What response was received in relation to it and from whom?

Baroness Blatch: At some point during the afternoon I explained that the Bill is largely an enabling Bill to allow a scheme to be established. The Committee accepted that that scheme shall not be on the face of the Bill but will nevertheless be subject to parliamentary approval. The whole of the scheme will initially be subject to parliamentary approval under the affirmative resolution procedure.

Consultation was substantially in regard to the scheme; for instance, the setting up of the scheme and everything to do with it which will affect those who will

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run it and those who will benefit from it. That is what was consulted upon. The amendments to Clause 10, which is the Bill, are to do with making sure that we allow the scheme in its entirety to be presented to Parliament through the affirmative resolution procedure.

That consultation ended at the end of August. We have not closed the door on receiving comments. We are still receiving comments into the department and no one is setting their face against them. Indeed, this debate will be used to reflect on the details of the scheme and already this evening I have had words with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer of Sandwell, on the fringe of the debate in relation to one of the amendments discussed this evening. While the principle of the response to the amendment does not change, nevertheless we shall look again at the clarity of the words in the scheme to reflect what I have said across the Dispatch Box. In that sense there is a continuing dialogue in regard to the scheme until it is presented to Parliament for its approval.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: Again I am grateful for that explanation. I received certain indications that the end of the consultation period was set out as the end of October, which we have not yet reached. I was obviously ill-informed and apologise to the noble Baroness for raising the point.

In connection with the general principle encapsulated in the two amendments, we must be careful on all sides of your Lordships' Chamber that an enabling Bill does not become a disabling Bill. With that observation—I do not know whether or not it is pertinent—I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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