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Lord Mishcon: Before the noble and learned Lord sits down or the noble Viscount answers him, could I ask the noble and learned Lord, since he has mentioned actuarial calculations, why it is that Section 10 of the Civil Evidence Act 1995 has not yet come into force? I had a personal interest in that because I happened to move the amendment which the noble and learned Lord kindly accepted.

The Lord Chancellor: Similar considerations apply in respect of that provision as apply in respect of this. It may not be perhaps so clear, but obviously a similar problem arises. I am anxious not to involve myself, or anyone else for that matter, in Parliament retrospectively altering the basis upon which damages are assessed in respect of causes of action that have already accrued. On the other hand, Parliament is entitled, as I see it, to make procedural improvements in current cases where the substantive rights are not affected. In so far as it is

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just an improvement in the procedure, that is all well and good, but there is an underlying feeling in some quarters that both Clause 1 and Section 10 of the Civil Evidence Act, which the noble Lord suggested on an earlier occasion should be put in place--it came out of this but we put it in a little in advance--could affect basic substantive changes in the level of damages, and I need to try to avoid that.

Viscount Chelmsford: We have had an interesting reply from my noble and learned friend. I should like to think about all that he has said. I distinctly heard him say that he did not wish to damage the insurance industry through retrospective legislation, and that is the point about which the insurance industry is concerned.

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Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Meston, that a low rate of return means a higher award. I thought that I heard him say the opposite. He is nodding his head. We shall undoubtedly want to study what has been said today and possibly consult the Lord Chancellor further, because we are all trying to achieve the same end and we are not sure how to reach it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Schedule agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with an amendment.

        House adjourned at eight minutes past seven o'clock.


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