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Lord Boyd-Carpenter: Would it help the noble Lord if I pointed out that two years ago I appealed against the assessment of my house? It has not yet been taken.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am grateful for confirmation from the noble Lord. He has reinforced my point that a crude number of steps is worse than a formula which does not provide for those differences at the margin.

There is no need for that, because a perfectly good method of calculation is available. The tables are published from time to time by the Government Actuary's Department. They refer to use in personal injury and fatal accident cases. There is no reason on earth that an additional amount of compensation which requires a calculation of future financial loss should not be made by reference to the official Government Actuary's table rather than in terms of Note 5 of the draft scheme.

This issue is not of profound importance to the scheme. It is not an issue on which I propose to divide the Committee. I shall not take kindly to the Minister telling me that it is another small change. We seek to be helpful and I cannot for the life of me see why the Government should not take the opportunity just for once to accept the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: Before the Minister replies, will she explain exactly what is intended? It seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has a point. Paragraph 22 states:

Does that mean that he has to take one of the five year periods as the multiplier? In other words, if someone has a future loss, and the period to the date of retirement is 13 years, is it intended that he must take the multiplier of 10, being the one below 13, or will he have the discretion to say that the period of loss is 13 years, therefore the multiplier falls between eight and 11 and is probably 10 or 9½? It is important to know what is meant by the reference that the claims officer shall select the multiplier by reference to the table. Does he have discretion to take figures within the table; or is he limited merely to the figures shown?

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: Perhaps I may take this opportunity to raise a point which may appear to be oblique but could be referred to by the Minister on this amendment.

In our debate yesterday in Committee, at col. 589 of the Official Report, she stated:

    "We want the scheme to be easy for victims to understand, without recourse to legal advice which could be expensive and slow down the process. As far as possible, therefore, we want to use every-day terms that are readily understood".

In saying that, the Minister had in mind the advantages of the scheme not including everything on the face of the Bill or within a statutory instrument. The noble

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Lord, Lord Carlisle, made it clear in respect of his own understanding, and it is clearly the case from what the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said on this and the last amendment, that a good deal of the scheme is incomprehensible even to Members of the Committee. It remains to be seen whether the language in the scheme could be rendered in some other way. That clearly would be the wish of the Committee. However, if the scheme is to be in this form, perhaps the Minister will indicate what further explanatory information would be available to the public for them to be able to understand what Members of the Committee do not now understand.

4.15 p.m.

Baroness Blatch: Perhaps I may attempt to answer my noble friend's question. It was incredibly technical. There is flexibility. These tables are used in common law damages, as I believe my noble friend knows. There is a degree of flexibility in taking any one of those fixed points. For example, if the figure falls somewhere between five and 10, or 10 and 15, these reference points are used as fixed points about which a calculation will be arrived at.

I am advised that in calculating a lump sum which fairly represents the present value of the stream of an applicant's future net loss of earnings, or the present cost of a stream of future expenses, the courts, and hence the board, have traditionally relied on multipliers which assume a net rate of return on investment of about 4.5 per cent. after the effects of tax and inflation have been taken into account.

These multipliers were developed over many years in the context of uncertainty about the economy and about the real rate of return on a basket of equities and gilts. It was assumed that this approach would deliver an income derived from dividends and sales of shares which would broadly match the lost income. Inflation would increase dividends and share prices enabling the holdings gradually to be realised over the years to which the loss related. At the end of that time the fund would be extinguished. This has resulted in the following conventional multipliers which are set out in the paragraph referred to by the noble Lord which have been incorporated into the enhanced tariff scheme. The flexibility that my noble friend seeks is indeed there.

Perhaps I may say this to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. We are conscious of the deficiencies in Note 5. We shall address that issue when we make the necessary changes and clarification when we offer the scheme to Parliament for approval. There will be a comprehensive guide in everyday language. I know that that was a point of concern to many Members of the Committee.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: That is a more helpful reply than we have had for a long time. I am grateful to the Minister. The noble Lord, Lord Carlisle, is entirely

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right. We have a table in Note 5 which appears to be completely rigid. We then have the provision in paragraph 22(d) which states:

    "The multiplier will be selected by the claims officer by reference to the table at Note 5"—
—that is, not in accordance with the table at Note 5—

    "taking account of any contingencies which appear relevant to the claims officer".

In other words, we are rigid. However, we do not mean to be rigid, and we shall not be rigid, but we are putting forward what appears to be rigid rules. I am satisfied for the moment with the indication from the Minister that there will be changes to this part of the scheme when the matter comes before Parliament. I hope that the clash between a rigid table and a flexible interpretation will be addressed and that there will be an attempt to express the legislation in more comprehensible language.

I still urge the Minister to consider the value of moving from such a table to actuarial evidence. I understand that the Law Commission has recommended that actuarial evidence should be admissible in courts and in particular, the Ogden tables which are the tables of the Government actuary. I commend a solution which avoids the necessity of appearing to be rigid and then tempering the wind to the shorn lamb. I propose something which is more comprehensible which can easily be referred to and which does not involve the kind of double talk which exists in the scheme at present. However, on the basis of what the Minister said, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 34.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 [Claims and awards]:

[Amendment No. 35 not moved.]

The Lord Advocate (Lord Rodger of Earlsferry) moved Amendment No. 36:

Page 2, leave out lines 44 and 45 and insert ("in specified circumstances").

The noble and learned Lord said: Clause 3(1)(c) enables provision to be included in the scheme about repayment of compensation for breach of conditions subject to which an award was made. However, the scheme also needs to include provision for repayment in other circumstances, such as where the applicant receives compensation from other sources in respect of the same criminal injury and where that other compensation was not taken into account when the award was made under the scheme. That would simply replicate the position under the present scheme. The amendment is intended to allow that to take place and so to prevent the applicant obtaining compensation twice over for the same injury.

As presently drafted, the provision in the Bill would not allow such recovery under the scheme and the provision accordingly needs to be amended to permit recovery in those wider circumstances. With that explanation, I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 37:

Page 3, line 3, leave out from ("made") to end of line 4 and insert ("either—
(i) three years of the date of the incident, or
(ii) three years of the eighteenth birthday of the applicant,
whichever is the later, save that the person determining the application may waive this requirement in exceptional cases.").

The noble Lord said: Again, the amendment seeks to put on the face of the Bill provisions in the scheme which at the moment are non-statutory or, as proposed, subject to subordinate legislation. There is a particularly strong reason why the time limits for applications after the date of injury should be on the face of the Bill rather than capable of alteration at relatively short notice.

The common law scheme which had existed since 1964 had a time limit of three years. In other words, a claim could be made at any time up to three years after the date of the injury. For a number of kinds of injury there was the possibility of late applications being considered and approved. The three-year time limit had survived for 30 years without alteration and without any noticeable difficulty, unless one could argue that the three-year time period was too short because a considerable number of late applications were received and authorised.

Then the 1994 illegal tariff was introduced which arbitrarily brought down the period to one year. What is now proposed is between the two: a two-year limitation period. The Government have resisted amendments to reinstate the three-year period on the grounds that some police forces destroy their records earlier than others. The fact is that over a period of 30 years, the three-year time limit has not caused any difficulties. So far as we know, it is extremely unusual for records to be destroyed within three years and it would not be a terrible hardship if the order went out to police forces that they should not destroy their records for three years, particularly for that purpose.

In the Criminal Injury Compensation Board report for 1993-94—the last year of the common law scheme—we find that there were 3,704 out-of-time applications and that 2,715 of them were allowed. In other words, even with a three-year time period, a considerable number of applications had to be considered after that period and had to be allowed. A relatively small proportion were found to be unreasonable.

One can imagine all kinds of cases in which three years is too short a time period. There is the example of a girl who was repeatedly sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend between 1976 and 1986. As a result, she gave birth. The offender was not jailed until 1993 and the victim's appeal against the time limit was, in my view, entirely properly allowed because it was only possible to establish that there had been a criminal offence at that time. In other words, that is seven years after the incident took place.

There is another example of an applicant now aged 22 who was sexually abused by his uncle between the ages of six and seven. The incidents were not reported to the police until three years ago; the director agreed to waive the time limit and an award was made.

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It is not just for sexual abuse and psychological injury, although those are the cases which usually take a long time to come out. Many physical injuries do not resolve themselves until after a three-year period and no one knows whether someone will end up paraplegic, blind or permanently incapacitated in a certain way. After all, three years is still the norm for other personal injury claims, it is the normal time limit for claims as a result of road accidents, medical negligence or workplace injury. It does not seem at all unreasonable that we should go back to the time limit which applied for 30 years without real difficulty, except for appeals against three years being too short. There seems no good reason why the Government should arbitrarily impose a shorter time limit of two years. That will clearly cause more appeals and a higher proportion of appeals succeeding. It would not cause more claims or more expense, but it would cause more people to put their appeals in at a time when it is possible to foresee more clearly what the permanent results of the injury are likely to be. I beg to move.

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