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Lord Hunt of Wirral: My Lords, I thank the Minister not only for what he has said tonight but also for the speedy way in which he made himself and his officials available for urgent consultation. I am grateful for the manner in which he has come forward with these amendments.

I accept that there is a need to guard against abuse and I share his resolve to ensure that there is no loophole. I also welcome the way in which he has framed the amendments because it is necessary to ensure that the mediation is of a prescribed description. As he will know, I shall be arguing that there are a number of kinds of alternative dispute resolution that should be recognised, but I agree that it is only when it is carried out under the guidance of a fully accredited mediator that one can have confidence in the process. I thank the Minister for the way in which he has come forward so quickly with these amendments.

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, I can well understand why my noble friend Lord Hunt is so pleased with the Minister's actions in this regard. I am, too. But, to put a little barb into the Minister, I should say to my noble friend that I hope he remains alert because the regulations referred to in subsection (8B) of Amendment No. 385D will be introduced by negative resolution.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Lord Warner moved Amendments Nos. 385B to 385D:

    Page 69, line 31, after first "under" insert "or by virtue of"

    Page 69, line 46, at end insert "or regulations under subsection (8B)"

    Page 70, line 9, at end insert—

"(8A) For the purposes of subsection (8B), a claim made by or on behalf of an injured person is a qualifying claim if—
(a) it is settled by mediation of a prescribed description, and
(b) the damages payable under the settlement are to be reduced to reflect the injured person's share in the responsibility for the injury in question.
(8B) Regulations may make provision as to the circumstances in which the amount (or amounts) specified in a certificate relating to a qualifying claim is (or are) to be that (or those) which would be so specified apart from the regulations, reduced by the same proportion as the reduction of damages."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Hunt of Wirral moved Amendment No. 385E:

    Page 70, line 16, at end insert—

"( ) Before making any regulations under subsection (2), the Secretary of State or the Scottish Ministers (as the case may require), or both, shall consult with such persons as they think appropriate."]

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving the amendment, perhaps I may take a more formal opportunity to thank the Minister for meeting with my colleague Paul Parke of Beachcroft Wansbroughs and I, together with Alistair Kinley, Policy Adviser, Liability, with the Association of British Insurers. During the course of that meeting—and in a letter which I understand has been placed in the Library—the Minister very kindly set out in some considerable detail his response on a number of points.

The members of the Association of British Insurers will be greatly reassured that the Government have clearly restated their intention not to extend the recovery of NHS treatment charges retrospectively and, moreover, that insurers will be consulted as and when implementing regulations are to be drafted and when any changes are subsequently made. It is also very helpful that the Minister has made it absolutely clear that this will not happen until after the employment liability reviews are completed.

However, I seek to draw the Minister further. When we debated the issue of consultation in Committee, the Minister said that it goes without saying that the Government would consult. I know "it goes without saying", but it would be helpful and reassuring to have the Government's commitment now to consultation, not only with members of the Association of British Insurers but also with all interested parties.

I am also greatly reassured that the Minister has set out what I believe is the Cabinet Office's code on written consultation. I have not yet had the opportunity to peruse this code, and it would be helpful if the Minister could make it available to me. I am sure there is probably a fast route to obtaining it, but it would be helpful to see it between now and Third

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Reading. On the basis of the reassurances that I know the Minister is about to give, I do not think it will be necessary to press this amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Warner: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his comments; I understand why he was concerned. As I said to him when we met and discussed the matter, the Department of Health, like every other government department, is fully committed to the principles, practices and, indeed, the spirit of the Cabinet Office's code of practice on written consultations. I will endeavour to let the noble Lord see a copy of that code of practice as soon as possible.

The code makes clear the expectation that consultation should take place on any matter which would have an impact on business, charities and voluntary organisations or the general public. The regulations governing the operation of the NHS cost recovery scheme clearly fall into that category and I can see no reason why the Government would want to go against the Cabinet Office guidance on this. However, the fact remains that the principle of consultation is now so firmly embedded in our collective consciousness that I do not believe it needs to be specified on the face of the Bill. I hope the noble Lord will feel that the assurances I have given, which will cover many of the interests about which he is concerned, will be covered in that consultation process, and that he is able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Hunt of Wirral: My Lords, I am, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 152 [Review of certificates]:

Lord Warner moved Amendments Nos. 385F and 385G:

    Page 72, line 40, at end insert—

"( ) Regulations may make provision as to the circumstances in which the Secretary of State or the Scottish Ministers must review a certificate relating to a claim which, after the certificate is issued, becomes a qualifying claim (as defined in section 149(8A))." Page 73, line 6, after "under" insert "or by virtue of"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Warner moved Amendment No. 385H:

    Page 73, line 11, at end insert—

"( ) But the Secretary of State or the Scottish Ministers may not vary a certificate so as to increase the amount, or the aggregate amount, specified unless it appears to him or them that the variation is required as a result of his or their having been supplied with incorrect or insufficient information by the person to whom the certificate is issued."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, those who took part in the debate on Part 3 in Committee will recall that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, spoke eloquently in support of the principle that it would be unfair for compensators who had acted in good faith and provided the scheme's administrators, the Compensation Recovery Unit, with accurate and appropriate information to have to pay the price if the CRU then made mistakes in the processing of that

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information. Although we were not at that time able to accept the noble Lord's amendments on this matter, I promised him that we would re-examine the issue in the light of his comments. We have kept that promise and, after careful consideration, have been persuaded by his arguments.

This amendment gives effect to our revised view on the matter. It will mean that if the CRU issues a certificate of charges which is subsequently found to be too low because the compensator gave it incorrect or insufficient information, the CRU will be able to issue a fresh certificate for the correct higher amount. If, however, the compensator gave the correct information but the CRU made a mistake while processing it, no fresh certificate can be issued. I commend this amendment to the House. I beg to move.

Lord Hunt of Wirral: My Lords, again, I am very grateful to the Minister for tabling this amendment, which produces a much fairer situation. In thanking

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him, may I, through him, also thank his officials who not only were very impressive but showed a remarkable understanding of some very complicated and technical aspects? I commend them for that. I think we do not praise often enough the hard work of officials behind the scenes in seeking to cope with highly technical and rather legal points. We are greatly reassured by the speed with which they were able to handle this matter. Hence this amendment, which I warmly welcome.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

        House adjourned at a quarter past ten o'clock.

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