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Lord Chesham: My Lords, that is not true. There cannot be any absolute guarantee of funding three years ahead. The World Service would be the only public body that had that benefit and we cannot guarantee a three-year agreement.
Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, in those circumstances is it not peculiar that the Government give a yearly guarantee by way of its vote in the Council of Ministers to millions being spent by the European Commission on propaganda throughout Europe, most of which does not rest on any discernible factual basis? That is at great cost to the taxpayer who receives literally nothing at all.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, is the Minister aware that in introducing the private finance initiative government Ministers on all occasions have said that it would not be a substitution for investment from the public sector? Is the Minister further aware that there is grave concern at the World Service? Can we read anything into the noble Lord's words that substantially the same programmes would be able to go out? That implied a cut.
Lord Chesham: My Lords, I believe I have already said that it is up to the World Service, in discussion with the Foreign Office, to decide what programmes go out. We do not believe that there will be any substantial reductions in the programmes broadcast by the BBC World Service.
Lord Donoughue: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, in relation to what he said about there being no cuts in services, is he aware that the chairman of the BBC has stated that this will result in cuts in services? Is the noble Lord saying that the chairman of the BBC is not telling the truth?
Lord Chesham: My Lords, I do not believe that is exactly what the chairman of the BBC said. What he said on 29th November was that he accepted that the BBC World Service could not be seen in isolation from the totality of the budget.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): My Lords, the Metropolitan Police inform me that they are currently investigating 11 Second World War crimes. Seven of these allegations were received from the Home Office on 28th May 1991 on the
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, perhaps I may thank my noble friend the Minister for what she was able to give us by way of reply and ask respectfully whether it is now accepted that the prospects of a fair trial in every one of these cases will be called in question on the application to stay proceedings for abuse of process of the court. In those circumstances, is it now accepted by the Government that, for the reasons advanced by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bridge of Harwich, on more than one occasion on the Floor of your Lordships' House, some appellate process should now be introduced?
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the question of a fair trial will loom very large in the minds of the Crown Prosecution Service and of the judge at a trial. But whether or not to apply for a stay of proceedings on the ground that the delay renders a fair trial impossible is a matter for the defendant and his legal representative in each case to consider. However, it would not be surprising if such applications were contemplated in these cases. As to my noble friend's other point as to whether there should be an appellate process against decisions to refuse such applications, we believe it is essential to minimise the scope for further delays in criminal trials, especially where delays have already occurred. A right of appeal against abuse of process decisions would create additional delays and is unnecessary. The defence already has a right of appeal at the end of the trial if the defendant is convicted.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I cannot give the breakdown but I can say that from the beginning of this process to the present day £5.5 million has been the total cost to the Metropolitan Police of pursuing these cases. The Crown Prosecution Service costs stand at £1.5 million.
Lord Beloff: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the question of whether there would be a fair trial has been raised almost exclusively by a small knot of people who, for reasons which remain obscure, desire to see these appalling crimes committed during the Second World War obliterated from the public memory? Does she not further agree that to raise these questions now, when we are contemplating similar prosecutions for
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely right. These are horrendous crimes. The victims of such crimes and the families of the victims of such crimes have indelibly imprinted on their memories the horror of these crimes. It is essential that we never concede the principle that simply the passage of time should be grounds for acquittal.
Lord Mayhew: My Lords, does the Minister recall that a substantial majority in this House declined to give a Second Reading to the War Crimes Bill and acted wholly out of a desire to see that unfair trials were not possible? Does she realise that not only are the alleged crimes at least 50 years old but that the time between the starting of these examinations and the bringing of cases to court is already excessive? Is it not time that this controversial and long drawn-out process was brought to an end?
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, it would be quite wrong to ignore the overwhelming view of another place in this matter. This ground has been well covered in almost every question that has been answered in the debate and indeed was well covered as the Bill processed through this House. On the point of unfair trials, that really must be a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service and the judge in the case. If it is deemed that a fair trial cannot take place, that must be a judgment of the Crown Prosecution Service in the first instance and the judges in the courts. If there is a conviction at the end of such a trial, anyone subject to a conviction is free to appeal.
Baroness Turner of Camden: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to render unlawful discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the employment field, including discrimination as regards terms and conditions of employment; and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, as noble Lords will recall, the passage last month of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995 paves the way for a new criminal injuries compensation scheme. The Act provides that a draft of the new scheme must be approved by an affirmative resolution of each House. The draft was laid on 16th November. It was approved by the other place on 6th December, and our task today is to decide whether this House should also approve it.
The criminal injuries compensation scheme was introduced in 1964. It provides compensation from public funds to blameless victims of crimes of violence and to those injured in attempting to catch criminals or prevent crime. Payment is made in recognition of the public's sense of responsibility for, and sympathy with, the innocent victim.
Under the current scheme, compensation has been assessed by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board on the basis of common law damages. That requires finely judged assessments of the degree of suffering and financial loss. That tends to make speedy decision-taking more difficult. It also makes it hard to predict and control the costs of the scheme. And those costs have been rising at an unsustainable rate, while the backlog of unsettled cases has, despite the best efforts of the board, continued to rise.
That was why we sought to introduce a new, tariff based scheme in 1994. That tariff scheme moved away from common law damages, and provided for payment to be made on the basis of a scale of awards for injuries of comparable severity, with the scale or tariff being based on awards made previously by the board.
However, in April this year the Judicial Committee of this House ruled that the introduction of the tariff scheme had been unlawful. That judgment, of course, related solely to the method of the tariff scheme's introduction, not to its intrinsic merits. The ruling necessitated the immediate withdrawal of the tariff scheme and the reinstatement of the former, common law damages based scheme. It also meant that some applicants were disadvantaged because they would have been treated more generously under the tariff scheme than under the reinstated scheme. These included, for example, some relatives of murder victims. The eligibility criteria in fatal cases were wider under the tariff scheme than under the common law damages scheme, allowing long term, but unmarried, partners of the deceased to qualify for an award, as well as the parents of a child of any age. But with the enforced reinstatement of the common law damages scheme, such applicants lost entitlement to award, an unfortunate consequence of the withdrawal of the tariff scheme necessitated by the Judicial Committee's judgment.
We remained firmly of the view that a tariff based approach was the right one. A tariff scheme is easier for victims to understand and is easier to operate. This means that applications can be dealt with more quickly. It also enables costs to be controlled and predicted more easily.
But the legal judgment did afford us the opportunity of taking a fresh look at the tariff approach. In doing so we took very careful note of the criticisms made of the earlier scheme, both in Parliament and elsewhere. We noted in particular the concern that too simple a tariff scheme could have a detrimental effect on those most seriously affected by their injuries. When, therefore, we invited Parliament to pass the Bill which would give statutory backing to a new tariff scheme, we sought to ensure that there were adequate powers to enable a number of very significant improvements to be made. Parliament clearly agreed with that approach; and we think the new, enhanced tariff scheme now proposed to be made under the new Act's powers fully addresses the major points of concern that have been expressed.
I think it might be helpful if I rehearsed briefly the principal features of the draft new scheme. All successful claimants will get a tariff award based on the injury suffered. But in addition, in more serious cases, victims will also receive extra compensation for loss of earnings and for special care. In fatal cases, payment will additionally be made for loss of dependency--that is, the breadwinner's income--and for loss of parental services. And reasonable funeral expenses will of course continue to be reimbursed.
We are doubling the maximum award under the old tariff scheme from £250,000 to £500,000, and we are making provision for recipients of higher value awards to opt for payment through the purchase of annuities: these arrangements are generally known as structured settlements. These can provide a stream of index-linked, tax-free payments, thereby considerably increasing the net value of the award. And your Lordships will recall that there was a provision in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act to extend the benefit of structured settlements to applicants under the current scheme whose claims had not yet been settled. The complementary change to the current scheme to permit that was made on 8th November, the same day as the Act received Royal Assent.
We issued a first draft of the new scheme in August. This was no small task. Because of the additional features in the new arrangements, such as loss of earnings, loss of dependency and care costs, we had to make it quite clear, and in language understandable to the layman, just what was meant by those rather imprecise terms and what would therefore qualify under the enhanced tariff scheme and what would not. That is why the new draft scheme has, of necessity, to be rather longer and more detailed than any of its predecessors.
The first draft of the new scheme was circulated widely to members of both Houses, and to interested individuals and organisations, including the police representative organisations, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, Victim Support, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, the Trades Union Congress, the Bar Council and the Law Society, the equivalent bodies in Scotland, and to many others. We then had meetings with a number of these organisations to discuss the proposals. We also received much useful feed-back in writing. The draft also helped to inform the debate during the Bill's consideration in this House where, as your Lordships will recall, discussion was accordingly
In the light of that wide, and most useful consultation exercise, we made numerous changes to the draft scheme. Among the most significant changes are greater consistency in the terminology used throughout the draft scheme; the inclusion of a table of contents and the more logical presentation of the scheme's provisions; the clarification of the criteria for waiving time limits and the provisions relating to loss of income; the costs of special care and fatal awards; and the provisions dealing with appeals.
We circulated a revised version of the draft scheme on 1st November. That was, of course, in time to inform debate during the final stages of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Bill, enabling Parliament to complete its consideration of the Bill in the full knowledge of the detailed terms of the scheme which would subsequently be proposed under its powers. In our view the new draft represented a very significant improvement on the earlier one. I am glad to be able to tell the House that that view seems to have been shared but more generally, since we received very little additional feed-back, and most of that was in the nature of seeking either clarification on, or suggesting minor amendment to, very small, technical points of detail. Nonetheless, it did help us to make one or two more minor changes to the draft scheme in the interests of clarity. But essentially the draft now before the House is the same as the one circulated last month and which Parliament had an opportunity to consider before it passed the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act.
The draft scheme now before this House gives effect to Parliament's wishes as expressed in its passing of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995. It puts the necessary flesh on the bones of that Act and spells out clearly and unambiguously who can qualify for an award, how that award will be assessed and paid, and how dissatisfied claimants may appeal. It makes it clear how the scheme will be administered and sets out the lines of accountability. Once the draft scheme has been approved and the scheme made, the Act itself makes it clear that any subsequent change will also require parliamentary approval by the affirmative resolution procedure if the change affects a key feature of the scheme, and by the negative resolution procedure if the change relates to a more minor feature of the scheme. Thus, Parliament rather than the Executive, will always have the final say over each and every provision of the new scheme.
We believe the draft new scheme provides the right balance between the needs of victims and the interests of taxpayers. It has the benefits of a tariff-based approach, which will enable most claimants to get their money more quickly and without undue fuss. But it also ensures that the more seriously injured are generously catered for, by paying for loss of earnings and the costs of special care, and by making provision for structured settlements. It will remain a generous scheme too; the most generous anywhere in the world. I accordingly commend the draft scheme to the House.
Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: My Lords, I am not sure whether one is speaking at a birth or at a wake because we are, of course, at the birth of the new scheme, but equally we are seeing the final stages of the death of the non-statutory scheme, which has been in existence in this country, with all party support, since 1964.
I should like to place on record, as I am sure my noble friend the Minister will agree, that that scheme over those 30-odd years, has been an enormous success. Without doubt it has been the finest scheme in existence in the world for the compensation of the victims of crime. Its strength has lain in the fact that it was based on the common law principles where each case was reviewed individually and the individual was compensated for the effect that the injury had had on the victim. As my noble friend knows, it was an attempt to ensure that those injured in crimes of violence were compensated as if they were the victim of a similar injury which would have taken them before the civil courts.
Sadly, that scheme is now to go. I accept--I have always accepted--that some change is required. The fact is that a scheme which started in a small way is dealing in the current year with some 70,000 applications and paying out something like £160 million in compensation. Over 1 million people in this country have received awards since the scheme began. I believe that there are two reasons for that growth. The first is, sadly, the growth in the volume of violent crime but there is now also far greater awareness of the victims' compensation scheme. The Government have encouraged that awareness and the police have been asked to let victims know their rights. Victim Support too has played a very important part. We should not witness the death of the non-statutory scheme without placing on record the fact that it has been enormously successful over those years.
So far as concerns the new scheme, I am sure that my noble friend the Minister will agree that the atmosphere in the House today is somewhat different from that prevailing when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, first raised the matter after the publication of the original White Paper. Indeed, I remind my noble friend of the atmosphere here on the day the Government were defeated on this matter during the passage of the most recent criminal justice legislation.
The reason that the atmosphere has changed is that the scheme has greatly changed. I, for one, welcome those changes--although, sadly, the Government still stick to an inflexible tariff. One does not have to repeat again all the arguments against such a scheme, but at least the present scheme gets rid of what to my mind were the totally unacceptable features of the Government's original proposals. If those proposals had gone through, all the savings that are intended to be made would have been made at the cost of those most badly injured in any assault. By refusing to pay for loss
I believe that those trades unions which chose to challenge that scheme by judicial review have had their actions thoroughly exonerated. The changes that have come about as a result of the defeat of that original scheme which was ruled unlawful by the Judicial Committee of this House are to the great advantage of future victims. However, it is sad that that had to be achieved in that way. If only the Home Office had been willing at an earlier stage to consult, to listen, to reflect and to amend its own proposals, taking account of the criticisms that were being made, I believe that it would have been possible to achieve a system which would have been acceptable to all parties, which would have achieved the Government's aims and which would, I suspect, have saved a great deal more than the present scheme will save. I repeat that I, for one, welcome the fact that the scheme that we are to introduce today avoids the worst features of the original White Paper.
Perhaps I may make three or four brief points about the scheme. First, I do not believe that the introduction of the scheme will be as simple and uncomplicated as the Home Office has implied from time to time. Although it is true that the tariff provides figures for a vast number of different types of injury, I still believe that it will be found in practice that many types of injuries are not covered by the current tariff. I hope and believe that my noble friend the Minister will ensure that the Government are willing to amend the scheme to take account of that fact.
Secondly, I still regret the fact that the Government have chosen a scheme which provides only one single amount for any particular type of injury. I accept that a large proportion of the work done by the present board can be achieved by a tariff scheme. I accept that the volume of work makes a movement in that direction necessary, but I still feel that if the scheme had provided a degree of flexibility by using bands of awards in some areas or allowing for differential movements around a central figure rather than providing only one figure for any particular type of injury, it would have been better able to take account of the different effects of the same injury on different people.
In particular, the Home Office should think again about the proposals relating to shock. It is difficult to deal with psychological injuries in the same way as physical injuries and by the provision of a single sum as is proposed in the scheme. I believe that it will be shown that those proposals are inflationary and will cost the Government a considerable amount of money.
Perhaps I may make two final points. I still believe that the proposals relating to those who suffer more than one injury are unfortunate. To say that because you receive two types of injury you should receive only 10 per cent. of the appropriate award for the second injury will in some cases be shown to be unfair. I hope that the Home Office will be prepared in any review to consider whether it cannot devise a system to ensure that a person who receives two totally separate injuries in the same assault is properly compensated for both.
On the scheme and the tariff, I accept that the new scheme is based almost entirely on the scheme that has been operating in this country since 1964 as far as the rules of eligibility are concerned and I accept that, as my noble friend the Minister has said on many occasions, the tariff is a generous one. Indeed, in some cases I believe that the amounts at the bottom end are more generous than the common law awards which are given at the moment. I wish the scheme well and hope that it succeeds. I hope that it succeeds in the interests of those who are the unfortunate future victims of crime. However, I repeat that I very much hope that the Government will not close their minds to a willingness to look again at certain aspects of it and that they will recognise that a degree of flexibility in the awards available under the scheme would make it a considerably better scheme than the one that we have at the moment.
Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: My Lords, we are considering the scheme in the aftermath of the tragic death at the weekend of Mr. Philip Lawrence. To do so adds poignancy to the whole problem of criminal injuries and their escalation. It is a tragic fact that today we are all potential victims of criminal injuries. The scale of the tariff, to which I shall refer in a minute, shows the awful injuries that individuals can receive.
Once we had, in a sense, overcome the central question of the principle of the Bill--although, as the noble Lord, Lord Carlisle, did, I want to make a passing reference to it--we concentrated in Committee on the details of the scheme. Of course we found that only by seeking to amend the Bill were we able to affect the outcome of the scheme. Even five weeks ago when we considered the Bill on Third Reading there were four important amendments--three moved by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, and one by the Minister herself--all of which have been incorporated in the scheme. I am grateful to the Minister for doing what one would have expected her to do and honouring the undertakings which she then gave.
I note what the noble Lord, Lord Carlisle, said about the scheme, and I cannot in any way dissent from the view that the figures may be generous in comparison to common law damages or that the scheme as a whole is very generous indeed. But looking at £15,000 for moderate brain damage, £25,000 for the loss of an eye and £30,000 for the loss of a leg below the knee, and reflecting upon someone who has been lucky enough to escape such injury, those figures still seem to be trifling. So in relation to those and other figures I hope that experience will be taken into account in bringing forward any amendments in due course.
Perhaps I may ask the Minister one question to which I have not been able easily to find the answer. It relates to levels of inflation. Paragraph 4 of the scheme says that it will be kept under review. The only word omitted from that familiar phrase is the word "constant". However, I assume that there will be a constant review. But that does not indicate to what that review will lead in respect of bringing forward another order at a future
We on these Benches wish the scheme well. A tariff scheme has been agreed by the House. I, like the noble Lord, Lord Carlisle, wish that there was more flexibility within it, a range of options open, or at least that it was a hybrid scheme whereby the great majority of items would be on tariff but there would be discretion for the others. But that is now water under the bridge. A decision has been made. I only hope that the Minister can say, not just with regard to inflation but with regard to experience of the scheme--it is bound to show, as the noble Lord, Lord Carlisle, said, shortcomings over a period of time--that the scheme will be updated at significant intervals, so that if it is a good scheme it will not decline over a period of years.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Minister opened the debate by giving a potted history of the sorry series of events that led us to this pass. I shall not go over that again, except to say that after all this is a new scheme, devised to replace the scheme which the Government had thought was too expensive. The effect of the scheme is to save, as I understand it, approximately £200 million a year. That may be the right thing to do, but it does not sit well for the Government to make that saving and yet to claim in speeches at the Conservative Party conference that the Conservative Party is the party of concern for the victims of crime. The two are not compatible. We are here because the Government wanted to save money and because they introduced an illegal scheme which had to be replaced by the present scheme. That is the fact of the matter.
Having said that, I echo the tribute paid by the noble Lord, Lord Carlisle, to the existing scheme which has carried on for over 30 years and which, as he said, was without doubt the best scheme of its kind in the world, and his recognition of the improvements which have been made by the Government over the past few months since the illegal, simple tariff scheme had to be abandoned. Those improvements are not unimportant. They include provision for compensation for loss of earnings and for future loss of earnings, a new provision for dependency in fatal cases, and improvements in payment for costs of care. Of course the structured settlements improvement is very much to be welcomed.
As the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, said, at the very end, improvements were introduced to this scheme over and above the draft scheme which was circulated last month. We are grateful to the Minister for seeing to it that her undertakings on Third Reading were
But there are many things still wrong with the scheme. That the scheme is still inadequate is evidenced by the fact that it is not a scheme which could conceivably be generalised. It could not be adopted as a tariff-based scheme for other than criminal injuries. Surely the test must be that, if the scheme is right for criminal injuries, then it should be suitable for implementation for accidents at work, medical negligence, or any of the other accidents and injuries which occur. A superficial look at the scheme makes it clear that that is not the case.
The noble Lord, Lord Carlisle, referred to the inadequacy of the provision for multiple injuries. To give just one example: if one loses one arm, the compensation is £40,000; if one loses two arms the compensation is £100,000; but if one loses an arm and a leg, which could be just as serious, if not more serious, the compensation is only £40,000 for the first injury and 10 per cent., or £4,000, for the second injury. That is clearly an anomaly which cannot be allowed to survive in the long term. The noble Lord referred to gaps in the tariff and the fact that there will be a considerable time before full payment is made, even if a gap in the tariff is recognised.
The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, referred rightly, when talking about fatal cases, to the tragic death of Philip Lawrence, the headmaster of St. George's School, on Friday last. If one looks at the scheme as it refers to compensation in fatal cases, it must be said that the scheme is not clear. Paragraph 37 provides:
I believe that it is intended that the scheme will recognise the case of Philip Lawrence and that compensation will be paid. However, paragraph 37 does not state that. It may not mean what it states but it is not clear to the innocent observer and it may not be clear to those who are advising people under such circumstances. It would be helpful if the Minister could spell out exactly what is the situation in such cases.
Most important is the failure of the scheme to recognise differences between the seriousness of injuries as regards people of different ages and sex. We had many debates on that subject as the Bill proceeded. It became clear that, as evidence is available, it is physically possible to distinguish between the amounts in the tariff which would be payable, for example, in respect of the scarring of a young woman as compared with that of an old man. That could have been done
There are many other less important defects of the scheme. It does not deal with the issue of dominance as regards right or left-handed people and the effect of that if a hand or arm is lost. There is still a two-year time limit on applications instead of the previous three-year limit. However, the conditions for late applications have been improved. There is still inadequate provision for the loss of parental services. There is still inadequate provision for the unexceptional risks that are taken not only by firefighters but by those in the rescue services who help after a crime has been committed. Not enough has been done about psychological injury and about shock. We await the report of the Law Commission and hope that the Government will implement any recommendations. There is still inadequate provision for the case in which a child of rape is not kept by the mother but is aborted or adopted. And, of course, there is still inadequate provision for the first 22 weeks of loss of earnings for the 12 million people who do not have access to the statutory sick pay on which the scheme is predicated.
Finally, there is the curious silence in the Act about the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, which is given legal status only in the scheme. The purpose of that has been made explicit; it is to provide for market testing and possible privatisation at a later date. We repeat that the thought of such an element of the criminal justice system being put out to privatisation is as repugnant to us as is the privatisation of prisons. A Labour Government will certainly not allow such market testing for privatisation to take place.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am grateful for all the points that have been made. I am not entirely surprised because I know that the scheme, as seen by other Members of this House, is not perfect in every respect. I am pleased to see my noble friend Lord Carlisle back in his seat after what I know has been an uncomfortable time for him. The original scheme served victims of crime very well over many years. I take this opportunity to salute the work and dedication of my noble friend and members of the board over those years. As my noble friend suggested, some change was required and time moves on. Nevertheless, the new scheme will remain generous and will be fair both to victims of crime and to those who must pay.
I turn to the individual points made during the course of this short but important debate. My noble friend Lord Carlisle referred to a banding system and the introduction of more flexibility. We believe that flexible bands or other special treatment for special classes of
My noble friend also referred to the lack of flexibility and the difficulty of making payments for recognising shock. It is important to point to the note to this scheme on the final page. Shock is referred to and clarified. It may be taken to include:
There are different categories for shock. There is a low payment of £1,000 for disabling but temporary mental anxiety, medically verified; or for a disabling mental disorder confirmed by a psychiatric diagnosis, which would give rise to a bigger claim, lasting up to 28 weeks, or over 28 weeks up to one year, and lasting for one year but not permanent; finally, a much larger award for a permanently disabling mental disorder confirmed by psychiatric prognosis. I believe that that recognises shock in all its forms.
My noble friend made a further reference which is important. It was to descriptions of injuries which are not contained within the scheme. There are mechanisms for recommendations to be made to my right honourable friend. If there were no appropriate description in the scheme, my right honourable friend has a mechanism for bringing to Parliament a change to the scheme that would recognise a new description of injury.
Reference was made to the formula for serious multiple injuries being too mean. In cases of multiple injury, the sampling exercise used to set the tariff showed clearly that most of the award was made for the most serious injury, with very little added for additional lesser injuries. That approach is also recommended in the Judicial Studies Board's guide to damages for personal injury, and the tariff accordingly adopts that approach. Once again, it reflects what happens under common law damages. I have dealt with the point made by my noble friend Lord Carlisle about injuries not described in the scheme.
The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, referred to the recent distressing case of the headmaster, Mr. Lawrence. Mr. Lawrence's family will be entitled to apply for compensation. They may do so at any time within two years of the offence. If they apply before 1st April 1996 the application will be dealt with under the common law damages scheme. If they apply after 1st April the application will be considered under the tariff scheme. Distressing as the case may be, I hope that that family will be well advised. It is a most timely reminder of the position of a victim in such circumstances.
The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, and my noble friend Lord Carlisle referred to the fact that we need to keep under review the operation of the scheme. We recognise that. If in the light of experience it becomes apparent that change would be desirable, we shall lay proposals before the House. Those ideas may come from the authority itself as the scheme beds down.
The operation of the tariff levels was also referred to. The tariff levels have been left as they were when the earlier scheme was introduced on 1st April 1994. Those levels were based on board awards and they included an element for loss of earnings and special care, plus a generous allowance for inflation. Although we are now paying loss of earnings and special care in addition to the tariff award in more serious cases, we have not stripped away those elements from the tariff level, which are, therefore, higher than they would otherwise have been. Therefore, there is already a considerable cushion built into the tariff.
For the future, the intention will be to review the tariff bands every three years. We shall give further thought later as to how that review may be undertaken. The priority for now is to get the scheme up and running successfully. The elements of the award for loss of earnings and special care will of course increase automatically in line with wages and the cost of care.
The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, referred to the tariffs being unsuitable for other types of injury; for example, those at work. It is not meant to cover such situations. In other schemes someone is usually liable. There is a plaintiff and a defendant. In our scheme, the Government are not a defendant. They are merely making an award with taxpayers' money on behalf of society and our awards are based on what the board does. That is supposed to reflect common law damages.
The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, referred to paragraphs 37 and 38 and asked whether the Lawrence case was covered. Paragraph 37 merely provides that, apart from funeral expenses, no compensation shall be payable for the benefit of the estate; that is, as opposed to individual qualifying claimants. The last part of paragraph 38 makes it clear that where the victim dies as a consequence of the injury, compensation is payable to qualifying claimants. Paragraphs 39 to 42 would cover Mr. Lawrence's family.
There seems to be a consensus that we have the broad parameters of the new arrangements right, even if there is some residual disagreement about one or two of the draft scheme's more detailed provisions. But I doubt that we should be able to devise a scheme to satisfy absolutely everybody unless funds were unlimited. It will remain the most generous scheme anywhere in the world. Given the constraints under which any responsible government have to operate, we believe that the new scheme is the best that can be devised. I commend the draft scheme to the House.