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Compensation Bill

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 20 June 2006

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the number of personal injury cases that are likely (a) to succeed and (b) to fail as a result of the use of defences proposed under Clause 1 of the Compensation Bill [Lords]; and if she will make a statement. (76544)

Clause 1 does not provide a new defence against liability for negligence or breach of statutory duty, and the success or failure of a claim will not depend on it. It simply identifies a factor which the courts can already take into account in determining a claim. The court will also take all the other circumstances of the case into account.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what estimate she has made of the likely change in the total amount of compensation paid out by insurers as a consequence of defences using proposed provisions in Clause 1 of the Compensation Bill [Lords]. (76546)

Clause 1 does not provide a new defence against liability for negligence or breach of statutory duty, and the success or failure of a claim will not depend on it. It will therefore not affect the amount of compensation paid by insurers.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what estimate she has made of the number of likely cases involving the use of the new defences under Clause 1 of the Compensation Bill [Lords]. (76547)

Clause 1 does not provide a new defence against liability for negligence or breach of statutory duty, and the success or failure of a claim will not depend on it. The courts will be able to consider the factor embodied in clause 1 wherever they consider it to be relevant, as is the case now.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will bring forward a Government new clause to the Compensation Bill [Lords] to define ‘desirable activity’; and if she will make a statement. (77723)

The Government do not intend to introduce a new clause to define desirable activity. The provision in Clause 1 of the Bill gives the court the flexibility to consider all the relevant circumstances of the case to reach a fair and just decision. Including a definition of ‘desirable activity’ could imply that certain types of desirable activity would have more weight than others, and would not reflect the existing law.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will bring forward a Government new clause to the Compensation Bill [Lords] to overturn the House of Lords judgment in the case of Barker; and if she will make a statement. (77724)

The Government fully understands the concerns that have been expressed about the judgment and are determined to find the best way to address the resulting issues for the claimants involved. As the Prime Minister has indicated, we are looking at this very carefully and hope to be in a position to make an announcement in the next couple of weeks.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will provide an explanatory note to define the phrase ‘desirable activity’ in the context of clause 1 of the Compensation Bill [Lords]. (77725)

Defining the phrase desirable activity is not necessary or appropriate. The concept which it embodies is the very well-established one of taking the wider social value of activities into account. This reflects the existing law and the courts are already able to—and do—take these matters into account when considering all the circumstances of an individual case.