My noble Friend the Minister for Postal Affairs and Employment Relations, Lord Young of Norwood Green, has made the following statement.
I am pleased to announce that the Government will shortly be launching the new compensation scheme for former trawlermen who fished in Icelandic waters.
Under this scheme, we will calculate the aggregate time served by each trawlerman during the last 20 years of their career on vessels that fished in Icelandic waters, and make additional payments whenever the payment due under this calculation exceeds the total already paid to them under the two previous compensation schemes. Claimants will only be eligible for payments where they can meet a qualifying test which requires two years’ aggregate service on vessels that fished in Icelandic waters during the four years of the cod wars, or the last four years of a trawlerman’s career if he left the industry before 31 December 1976.
This approach will direct additional payments to those people who were disadvantaged under the previous scheme, because they had long Icelandic careers, but received reduced payments or no payments at all as a consequence of the breaks rule, which the parliamentary ombudsman criticised in her 2007 report.
We will consider claims from anyone that applied under the previous schemes, or from anyone that has not applied previously where they can submit good and reliable documentary evidence supporting their claim. We have agreed to add an extra vessel to the original list of Icelandic vessels and will consider the case for adding further vessels, assessing any evidence submitted against criteria based on that used under the previous scheme.
We plan to formally launch the scheme on 31 July. At launch, we will announce the scheme through local newspapers in each of the ports concerned; establish a helpline to deal with queries and issue copies of the application forms and scheme rules; and place this information on the BIS website: www.bis.gov.uk. We will also write to everyone that replied to the recent consultation paper. We will allow nine months from launch for people to submit claims. However, no payments will be made until the vessels list has been finalised.
We believe this scheme represents a fair and equitable way forward. It has been designed to meet the concerns raised by the parliamentary ombudsman in connection with the previous scheme, and will enable an estimated 1,000 former trawlermen to receive additional payments totalling around £5 million to £10 million.