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Personal Injury (Liability And Compensation)

Volume 888: debated on Monday 10 March 1975

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asked the Attorney-General if he can yet say when the Royal Commission on civil liability and compensation for personal injury will report.

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that there are 250 cases of severe vaccine brain-damaged children who have been waiting since May 1973 for the Royal Commission to report? Is he also aware that the Secretary of State for Social Services declined to award compensation to them until the report is made? Will he press his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services to award the compensation now rather than wait for the report? In any case, will he confirm that the Royal Commission will not be able to recommend retrospective awards?

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that my noble Friend and I are no less anxious than he is that the report should be available as soon as possible. This is a very wide-ranging inquiry. The second part of the hon. Gentleman's question is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services. Whether retrospective legislation will be appropriate will depend to some extent upon what is recommended, but I shall see that what the hon. Gentleman has said is passed to my right hon. Friend.

Is the Solicitor-General aware that the findings of the report are likely to involve matters of far-reaching importance to individual freedoms? Will he use his good offices with the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House to ensure that when the findings are made public there will be debate about them on the Floor of the House?

Perhaps we should wait until the report is available. I shall certainly see that what the hon. Gentleman has said is brought to the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend.