Motion for leave to introduce a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)
I beg to move,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to establish a Commission to review the operation of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme and to make proposals for amendments to the scheme.
I rise to introduce a Bill to review the criminal injuries compensation scheme. It is a very small Bill about a very big issue: the impact of the 7/7 bombings on a number of our constituents. Its co-sponsors have constituents whose bodies were cruelly torn asunder by the bombs that were placed on 7/7. One of my own constituents, Andy Brown, whom I will discuss in a moment, wishes me to make the point that despite the incredible work of our security forces, we ought to work on the assumption that perhaps one day, the bombers will get through again and the victims of 7/7 will be joined by others of our constituents who will be equally badly mauled by the bombs of evil men who only wish us harm.
It is clear that this House does not have the power to re-create the bodies of those constituents into the form they took during the moments before the bombs went off; nor do we have the power to touch them and heal their emotions. What we can do, of course, is to put them back into the financial position they were in before these evil men set off the bombs. In other words, we can fully compensate them for the financial losses that they have incurred as a result of the 7/7 bombings.
Currently, our constituents qualify under the criminal injuries compensation scheme, which has a cap of £250,000. To many of us, that probably sounds like a huge sum of money, but when I met my constituent who was partly blown asunder by the bombers, I asked him about the financial costs of trying to repair his life. I did not immediately visit him in hospital, because I thought that the last thing he would want to see was his MP, but I have since come to value his friendship and that of his wife, Jan. I pay tribute to the way in which he has valiantly surmounted the horrors that have been inflicted on him. I asked Andy and his wife what sum they needed to put them back into the position they were in before the bombs went off. I asked about their housing needs, and whether Andy’s career would be affected, despite all the efforts that he has made to regain it. I asked about the cost to Jan, who is about to launch her own career as a teacher, and the effect on the couple’s pension position. It was quickly clear that the bill was way beyond the £250,000 maximum payable under the criminal injuries compensation scheme.
The Bill therefore seeks the permission of the House to establish a review, to report to the Justice Secretary by the end of the year, of how we can reform the criminal injuries compensation scheme to remove the cap for those victims of terrorism who are subjects of this country, whether the terrorist outrage occurs here or abroad. One would hope that the review would also suggest how we might pay for that small extension, in global terms, of the scheme. I hope that the review would take the line that my right hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North (Malcolm Wicks) suggested on community care, rather delphically—that these are risks that all of us might wish to insure against. We should do so collectively, and share the costs, because that makes them very small, but they are very important for some of our constituents.
All the hon. Members who are sponsoring the Bill have constituents who were physically affected by the bombers’ actions on 7/7. An early-day motion is being tabled today so that other hon. Members from both sides of the House who wish to support the Bill can request the Justice Secretary not to wait for Royal Assent but to set the review in hand now, so that it may report before Christmas, so that after that date we can have a criminal injuries compensation scheme that fully meets the extra financial costs suffered by those people who were physically so impaired by the evil actions of the bombers on 7/7.
Question put and agreed to.
That Mr. Frank Field, Mr. Ian Taylor, Susan Kramer, Dr. Tony Wright, David Tredinnick, Mr. Andrew Dismore, Mr. Jeffrey M. Donaldson, Sandra Gidley, Kate Hoey, Mark Fisher, Mr. Nicholas Soames and Lynne Featherstone present the Bill.
Mr. Frank Field accordingly presented the Bill.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on 16 October 2009 and to be printed (Bill 133).