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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Of course, the amendment does not say anything about loss of earnings payments. We recognise that loss of earnings payments will go up in line with inflation. The amendment concerns the standard amounts provided for in the tariff.

It is an extraordinary argument put forward by the Government that they have already over-provided in the existing scheme because they have included loss of earnings once and then provided for them separately a second time. In any normal business one would say that anybody who over-provides in that way and then claims, as a result of that over provision, that they do not need to think about it again for three years should go back and re-write their budget.

I was brought up working for the General Electric Company. We had a standard rule that factory prices had to go down by 10 per cent. every year: in other words, there was a constant struggle to reduce costs. I sometimes wonder what Mr. Waldegrave is doing if he is not paying attention to proceedings on the Floor of the Chamber in Parliament and the Government claim that they have been extravagant now in order to avoid uprating the payments in future years.

The Government cannot get away from that dilemma by resisting the amendment. The only honourable way for the Government to deal with the matter is to reduce the amounts to a figure which does not account for loss of earnings and then make adequate provision for uprating in the future. Perhaps Mr. Waldegrave would approve of that rather more.

I shall be interested to see whether, in the light of our discussions, there will be any changes in the revised tariff when it is put before Parliament. It is too tempting. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 [ Repeal of the 1988 Act scheme and transitional provisions]:

[Amendment No. 69 not moved.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 70:

Page 7, line 16, at end insert ("or until 1st April 1996").

The noble Lord said: This is a rotten amendment. It is badly worded because I meant to say that the date on which the scheme comes into force should be not later than 1st April 1996 rather than saying,

Because it is a rotten amendment, I shall not press it.

However, it provides an opportunity for me to express my gratitude to the Minister for making the scheme available and for the fact that the scheme says, in paragraph 1,

    "Applications received on or after 1st April 1996 for the payment of compensation...will be considered under the following provisions of this Scheme".

It would have been nice if that commencement date, like most commencement dates, had been included on the face of the Bill rather than in a scheme. But if the Minister confirms that it is the Government's inalienable intention that the scheme shall start not later than 1st April 1996, that will be helpful. I beg to move.

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Baroness Blatch: I absolutely confirm that our intention is to have the scheme up and running by 1st April 1996. Our difficulty with the amendment is that it would provide an absolute deadline in legislation. If, in its wisdom, Parliament decided not to accept the scheme and sent it away for redetermination, there would be a delay and following 1966 we would be without a scheme. It would then be impossible for an applicant to make an application because there would not be a scheme. It is a safeguard against the possibility of missing the deadline to make sure that there is a scheme in place in order for applicants to make applications.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am grateful. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 71:

Page 7, line 17, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 71 seeks to delete Clause 11 (3), which reads,

    "At any time before the commencement date, the Secretary of State may make such alterations to the current arrangements as he considers appropriate".
"Current arrangements" are defined in Clause 11 (2). I listened to what the noble Baroness said in relation to Clause 10 and am wondering whether a drafting problem exists in this regard, too. Also, should the power given to the Secretary of State in Clause 11(3) be made subject to the provisions of Clause 10? Otherwise, the Secretary of State has a free hand to do whatever he likes with the present arrangements—the common law scheme—without any parliamentary scrutiny whatever. He can walk into the House tomorrow and make an announcement that awards have been reduced to whatever level he wishes and there would be no parliamentary scrutiny of any alterations and no provision for consultation.

The amendment is a probing amendment. It could be more happily worded in the light of the commencement date of the new scheme. The provision seems to give the Secretary of State complete power to do what he likes without parliamentary scrutiny. As has been said more than once in the course of debates today and yesterday, that is a dangerous innovation. I beg to move

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I shall be fascinated to hear the Minister's reply to my noble friend's amendment. It occurs to me, looking at Clause 11, that subsection (2) provides that, for the first time in 31 years, the current scheme should have a statutory basis rather than being on the basis of royal prerogative. I think that should be celebrated.

Baroness Blatch: I had intended to refer to the past 30 years and say that the records of the various Home Secretaries have been rather good ones and it is a short time to go for the demise of the scheme.

The aim of subsections (2) and (3) of Clause 11 is to make it clear beyond doubt that there is a power both to run the 1990 scheme and to make alterations to it in the period between Royal Assent and the coming into force of the enhanced tariff scheme in 1996. If we are to continue to operate the 1990 scheme in that period—of

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course it is essential for victims that we should be able to do so—then clearly we must also have a power to make any changes that may prove necessary. In the nature of things I cannot specify now precisely how that essential contingency power might be used because it is just that; a contingency power. But I can perhaps give two examples.

In discussion on Clause 8 earlier in Committee, I pointed out that if we were to be able to make structured settlements available to claimants under the 1990 scheme we would have to change the 1990 scheme itself to make that possible. If we had not been far-sighted enough to realise this before the Bill was passed and make the necessary change it would have been open to question—if the amendment had been accepted—whether we would then have been able to change the scheme and thus give practical effect to the amendment made to the clause. In such circumstances the victims thereby disbarred from benefiting from structured settlements would no doubt have been quick to inform the noble Lord of their feelings when they learnt that he had been the sponsor of the amendment that had the effect of excluding them.

Another example might be where it was necessary to make a minor change to the scheme in response to external factors over which we had no control. An amendment to the Channel Tunnel Order making a minor change to territorial limits is a case in point. Unless we retained a power to amend the 1990 scheme we might be unable to make the change necessary to ensure that someone criminally injured in a part of the tunnel or control zones not previously regarded as part of Great Britain was able to qualify under the scheme. That is why the amendment is not acceptable. It must be clear beyond doubt that we have a power to change the 1990 scheme when needs dictate and I accordingly ask for the noble Lord's indulgence not to press the amendment and to see reason in my argument.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: The noble Baroness can have my indulgence any time she wishes. I am grateful for her response. However, I find it self-contradictory. Clause 11 (2) says,

    "The arrangements for compensation for criminal injuries in operation immediately before the passing of this Act ('the current arrangements') shall continue in force until the date on which the Scheme comes into force ('the commencement date')"—

namely, the projected date of 1st April, 1996. Having put that on the face of the Bill, a free hand is given to the Secretary of State in Clause 11(3) which says,

    "At any time before the commencement date, the Secretary of State may make such alterations to the current arrangements as he considers appropriate".

I wonder whether Clause 11(3) is necessary. It is no doubt a matter for legal debate but for the life of me I cannot see how Clause 10 and Clause 11 can be reconciled. I shall read with interest what the noble Baroness said and no doubt we can return to the matter at the Report stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Lord Windlesham had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 72:

Page 7, line 17, after ("date") insert ("or before the date one month after the passing of this Act, whichever is the earlier.")

The noble Lord said: This amendment was debated yesterday so there is no need to speak to it again. But I give notice that I shall have some concluding remarks on Clause 12 stand part.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 [Short title and extent]:

On Question, Whether Clause 12 shall stand part of the Bill?

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