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Victims and Prisoners Bill

Volume 838: debated on Thursday 23 May 2024

Third Reading

Scottish Legislative Consent granted, Welsh Legislative Consent granted in part.

Amendment 1

Moved by

1: After Clause 31, insert the following new Clause—

“Right to erasure of personal data

(1) Article 17 of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (right to erasure) is amended in accordance with subsections (2) and (3).

(2) In paragraph 1, after point (f) insert—

“(g) the personal data have been processed as a result of an allegation about the data subject—

(i) which was made by a person who is a malicious person in relation to the data subject (whether they became such a person before or after the allegation was made),

(ii) which has been investigated by the controller, and

(iii) in relation to which the controller has decided that no further action is to be taken.”

(3) After paragraph 3 insert—

“4. For the purposes of paragraph (1)(g), a person who has made an allegation about a data subject is a “malicious person” in relation to the data subject if the person—

has been convicted of an offence specified in column 1 of the table in paragraph 5 in relation to which the data subject is a person specified in the corresponding entry in column 2 of that table, or

is subject to a stalking protection order under section 2 of the Stalking Protection Act 2019 or section 8 of the Protection from Stalking Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 (c. 17 (N.I.)) made to protect the data subject from a risk associated with stalking (see section 2(1)(c) of the 2019 Act and section 8(2)(c) of the 2022 Act).

The table is as follows—


Data subject

1. An offence under section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (offence of harassment: England and Wales)

A person mentioned in section 1(1)(a) or 1(1A)(a) of that Act

2. An offence under section 2A, 4 or 4A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (other harassment and stalking offences: England and Wales)

The person against whom the offence is committed

3. An offence under section 8 of the Stalking Protection Act 2019 (offence of breaching stalking protection order etc)

A person who the stalking protection order was made to protect from a risk associated with stalking (see section 2(1)(c) of that Act)

4. An offence under section 42 of the Armed Forces Act 2006 as respects which the corresponding offence under the law of England and Wales (within the meaning given by that section) is an offence specified in entry 1, 2 or 3 of this table

A person specified in column 2 of the entry in which the corresponding offence is specified

5. An offence under section 70 of the Army Act 1955 or Air Force Act 1955 as respects which the corresponding civil offence (within the meaning of that Act) is an offence specified in entry 1 or 2 of this table

A person specified in column 2 of the entry in which the corresponding civil offence is specified

6. An offence under section 42 of the Naval Discipline Act 1957 as respects which the civil offence (within the meaning of that section) is an offence specified in entry 1 or 2 of this table

A person specified in column 2 of the entry in which the civil offence is specified

7. An offence under section 39 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 (asp 13) (stalking offences: Scotland)

The person against whom the offence is committed

8. An offence under section 1 of the Protection from Stalking Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 (c. 17 (N.I.)) (stalking offences: Northern Ireland)

The person against whom the offence is committed

9. An offence under section 13 of the Protection from Stalking Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 (c. 17 (N.I.)) (offence of breaching order: Northern Ireland)

A person who the stalking protection order was made to protect from a risk associated with stalking (see section 8(2)(c) of that Act)

10. An offence under Article 4 or 6 of the Protection from Harassment (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 (S.I. 1997/1180 (N.I. 9)) (harassment offences: Northern Ireland)

The person against whom the offence is committed”

(4) After section 13 of the Data Protection Act 2018 insert—“13A Meaning of “relevant offence” for purpose of right to erasure(1) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend the table in Article 17(5) of the UK GDPR.(2) Regulations under this section are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.””Member’s explanatory statementThis clause adds a new ground which data subjects can use to obtain erasure of personal data which has been processed as a result of an allegation about the data subject by a person who has been convicted of a relevant offence or who is subject to a stalking protection order protecting the data subject.

My Lords, I have two matters to address. The first matter is the position on devolution. The majority of the measures in Part 1 of the Bill apply to England and Wales. Clause 18, which relates to the issuing of guidance about victim support services, engages the legislative consent process. The Senedd did not grant legislative consent for this measure. Accordingly, the Government will table in the other place an amendment so that this clause applies to England and reserved matters in Wales only, and consequently removes the requirement to consult Welsh Ministers before issuing guidance.

Part 3 of the Bill applies UK-wide, and I can confirm consent has been granted by the Senedd and the Scottish Parliament. However, the process has not yet concluded in Northern Ireland. In the interest of ensuring the legislation is passed and these vital measures come into force across the UK, we will need to proceed to legislate for all, including Northern Ireland.

Part 2 of the Bill applies to England and Wales, and engages the legislative consent process for the appointment of the independent public advocate. The Bill contains a measure which requires the Secretary of State to consult Welsh Ministers before declaring a major incident in Wales and appointing an advocate. The Senedd did not grant consent for this part of the Bill. We continue to believe that this is an appropriate level of involvement for the Welsh Government and that it respects the legislative competence of the Senedd. Having considered the Senedd’s position, the United Kingdom Government have decided that, in this instance and given the context of major incidents, we will proceed without the Senedd’s consent. It would not be acceptable for the independent advocate provisions not to apply in Wales. It is vital that these measures apply to—

Can the Minister explain why the Senedd is refusing to sign up to this agreement? It might be of interest to the House to know why.

I am afraid I am not in a position to say why the Senedd has refused consent; only the Senedd can say. The original issue was whether it should have some kind of veto over the appointment of the independent public advocate, or whether it should simply be consulted. One could infer that it was not satisfied with the requirement to be consulted and wanted a stronger role. That is an inference I draw as I have no inside information on the point. In any event, it is vital, in the Government’s view, that these measures apply to England and Wales to bring the benefit to all victims within England and Wales. So that is the devolution position.

I do not know whether, in this procedure, it is permissible for me to answer the question which the Minister was not in a position to. If I might explain, it was hoped that in the spirit of the United Kingdom you might be able to agree on a lawyer. There are an awful lot of lawyers and normally parties can agree, but, as the Welsh Assembly sees it, for some extraordinary reason the Government refused to do what normal litigants do, which is to agree on a lawyer. It stuck on that point because it thought it showed how unworkable the union is becoming if you cannot even agree on a lawyer.

Quite frankly, there are lots of lawyers in here. I do not know whether, if we put forward everyone’s name, perhaps the Senedd could agree to someone who is already in the House of Lords.

I think this is not a very useful debate to pursue at this stage of the proceedings. Without going any further, I am under the impression that it is not only the question of agreeing on a lawyer, but whether a standing public advocate should be appointed in the first place. I suggest that is something we should leave aside for today’s purposes.

My second duty is to speak to Amendment 1 in my name on the Marshalled List. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan of Cotes, and Stella Creasy, a Member of Parliament in the other place, for the amendments they have tabled on this issue, and their engagement with myself and officials in this area. The amendment concerns what to do when there is a malicious complaint to social services and the procedure for removing that complaint, following the conviction of the complainant and the finding that the complaint was malicious.

Amendment 1 will insert into Article 17(1) of the GDPR—in fact, it inserts it into the relevant European directive so we have an unusual example of the UK Government directly amending European legislation—a new Part 2 ground which creates the right for certain victims who are data subjects to request deletion of personal data when the following two circumstances occur: first, when an allegation has been made by a person who has been convicted of relevant criminal offence against the data subject, or the person is subject to a stalking protection order made to protect the data subject from a risk associated with stalking; secondly, following an investigation by the data controller, it has been decided that no further action has to be taken in relation to the allegation.

The relevant criminal offences listed in the amendment are the offences of stalking and harassment against a victim. A power is also taken to update this list by regulations made using the affirmative procedure, should further offences be required to be included in the future. This amendment will provide a specific new ground for victims of stalking and harassment for the deletion of false allegations made about them, and support them to prevent the further distress that retaining this information may cause.

To ensure that the data controller has an important reason to retain the data, the exemptions under Article 17(3) of the UK GDPR will apply. This allows the data controller to refuse the re quest for a limited list of reasons, including whether processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation or the performance of a task carried out in the public interest, which could capture refusal for safeguarding reasons. However, data controllers must provide reasons for any refusal and inform data subjects of their right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office. We will ensure that guidance, including on child safeguarding, is updated so data controllers understand how the new ground is intended to work. We will also update the victims’ code so that victims are aware of their rights around data erasure.

I therefore commend this amendment to the House, and I hope that what I have said will permit the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, not to press her Amendment 2 on the marshalled list.

My Lords, it is a pleasure to speak on this very important Bill. I am delighted that it covers so many vital issues and will proceed, we hope, to Royal Assent before Parliament is prorogued.

I shall speak to Amendments 1 and 2. I thank my noble friends the Minister and Lady Barran, and their officials, for their engagement on this matter at some speed. I am delighted that Stella Creasy is here to listen to the debate. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, my noble friend Lady Finn and the noble Lord, Lord Russell, for their support, as well as the Opposition Front Bench.

Politics is the “art of the possible”, as the important quote goes. The Government have now accepted, after resisting for many months, the principle behind Amendment 2, which we repeatedly tabled in this House at various stages of the Bill. As we have heard, the law should be updated to recognise that, in cases of stalking and harassment, one of the things that the stalker or harasser can do to prolong their victim’s agony is to make a false and malicious allegation which stays on the record, and data controllers hide behind their rights in not deleting it even when the allegation has been found to be both false and malicious.

I recognise the progress that has been made in the tabling of Amendment 1. As ever, of course, the devil is in the detail. As my noble and learned friend Lord Bellamy has said, there are still grounds under Article 17(3) of the GDPR on which a data controller could refuse to delete the data. I really welcome his clear commitment that there needs to be strong guidance to the ICO and data controllers in the Explanatory Notes to the Bill, and also provisions in the victims’ code. The danger with all this is that we still leave the burden on victims to argue for the data to be erased, and the power remains with the data controller. That is what worries me about those exemptions in Article 17(3).

In that guidance, the data controller must be told that they need to set out substantive grounds for refusing any request for erasure of the data. We also hope that the Government will set out scenarios in which those exemptions in Article 17(3), provided for in law, cannot be used in cases where data records have been created as a result of malicious conduct.

Having said all that, I recognise where we are at this time in this Parliament. I will be interested to hear what other noble Lords might say in this short debate and what the Minister might say in summing up. I recognise and thank my noble and learned friend for the progress that he has made on this issue.

My Lords, I will speak very briefly. I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, for her persistence and skills in negotiating with her own party, which is possibly easier than doing it from outside the party.

I stress the absolute importance of giving crystal clear guidance. The occupation of data controller is not necessarily high on the list of most of us as a potential career. I suspect that it is not the most exciting part of many bureaucracies. I also suspect that it is an area where one follows the rulebook, or what one perceives to be the rulebook, particularly closely. I suspect that the ability of individuals to feel that they have the power to exercise their own judgment is somewhat limited and probably not encouraged. It is incredibly important that there is absolutely no doubt in the mind of even the least curious or the most obdurate data controller as to what is and is not acceptable in terms of erasure.

Other than that, I thank the Government for having thought about this carefully, and for having responded. I hope that as a result of this, the data controller in Waltham Forest who is making Stella Creasy’s life rather difficult will at least read this debate or be told of it and will rethink his or her decision to not erase the data.

It is my privilege to follow both the noble Lord, Lord Russell, and the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan. I signed this amendment and continue to offer my support. I echo and agree with everything they said.

I have slight concerns that this is not just an issue about the data controller; it is also about social work practice. That really worries me, because there is a mindset that says that if anyone makes a complaint, we have to have it on the record just in case for the future. I hope that the government amendments are sufficient to provide an answer, but should we discover either that Stella Creasy’s case is not dealt with or that there are others, I put all future Governments on notice that there is a team in this House that will return to the subject.

I will make just one point to the Minister: will the direction and guidance given to the data controller say that the information being found to be vexatious will be an automatic reason to delete it? As soon as something is found not to be true, it should be deleted and the data controller should have the obligation to remove it straightaway.

My Lords, I welcome this amendment. Congratulations all round are due to the noble Baronesses, Lady Morgan, Lady Finn and Lady Brinton, and the Ministers. I take issue with what the noble Lord, Lord Russell, said: negotiating with your own party is every bit as challenging as negotiating from outside—I speak from experience—but this is a very good example of the point of the House of Lords. When we do this sort of work, we can take an issue that is clearly an injustice, as my honourable friend Stella Creasy has experienced, along with others—mostly women—and persuade the Government to take action. That is the right thing to have done.

My Lords, there is little I can add. In preparing the guidance, the Government will take into account all the points, particularly those made by my noble friend Lady Morgan. The word “automatic” may be a slightly difficult word in the guidance, but I anticipate that it will be made extremely clear that in these circumstances the data controller would have to provide very clear reasons for not deleting the complaint concerned. I hope that will be covered comprehensively in government guidance, whichever Government are in power.

Amendment 1 agreed.

Amendment 2 not moved.


Moved by

My Lords, I am very grateful for the opportunity to raise some issues that have arisen since the publication of the framework and tariffs for the new infected blood compensation scheme on Tuesday afternoon. I thank the noble Earl and John Glen for providing the details to make that possible, and the usual channels for ensuring that the work done so far is not lost but carried through.

However, over the last 24 hours, we have heard from a substantial number of members of the infected blood community who are distraught by the detail that has come out in the framework and tariffs, which seem to be at complete odds with the schemes that have gone before. I have a long shopping list of over 20 points; I will not detain the House with them, but I forwarded them to the Minister in advance of this debate. I will raise two or three as illustrations.

Under the new framework, there will be no distinction between chronic hepatitis B and C in calculating infection. There is no consistency about other diseases; for example, variant CJD has been left out of the new scheme but was included in the old one, as has Hodgkin lymphoma and possibly other cancers. Many people believe that the Government’s proposals still mean that the current schemes will be closed down, leaving them worse off, and that the Government have an incentive to wait longer to pay compensation. They need great reassurance and clarity that that will not be the case, because that is not evident in what was published on Tuesday afternoon.

Can the Government provide a breakdown of how the core route awards examples have been calculated? That would be helpful, even if only to say that there will be further information published online. There are concerns about the illustrative awards being worded as

“for a living infected person”

and not simply an “infected person”. Given that your Lordships’ House has debated a great deal of the wonderful news that estates will also be able to claim, does that mean that estates will be excluded from this part of the scheme?

Noble Lords can see that there is a lot of detail here. A community that thought, on Tuesday morning, that everything was going to be all right are now very concerned that there are a large number of anomalies that need to be corrected. I will not go on, except to say that I am really grateful for all the help that the Minister has given, and I hope that he can provide some reassurance.

My Lords, I will be brief because I know that time is of the essence. I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, for her sterling work on this Bill. She has given great comfort and strength, as well as enormous amounts of information, to the infected blood community, so that they can keep up with what we have been doing in this House up until today. She is right that there is now confusion in the community.

At the end of a very long day on Monday, I had thought that I might just get a day off, but by Tuesday my phone was ringing off the hook, and I became a helpline to many in the infected blood community who have the concerns that the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, just described. I urge the Minister to give a little more clarity, if he can today, so that we can go back and continue to give reassurances to a community that has been campaigning and working towards this week for probably 35 years. I thank the Minister for his open door, because we have been going in and out of it for weeks. I, for one, really appreciate his support and help.

My Lords, I add the thanks of these Benches to the Ministers—the noble Earl, Lord Howe, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy—and the Bill team as a whole for the way they have handled the Bill. It has been a real example of co-operation and cross-party help, leading to a number of amendments, not only on this particular issue but on all the issues that we have faced. We have not always reached agreement and there have been Divisions; nevertheless, I think everybody here agrees that the Bill will leave this House much improved.

I also very much wish to associate these Benches with everything that has been said by my noble friend Lady Brinton, speaking from these Benches, and the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Surbiton. I pay tribute to the noble Earl for the way he has handled the infected blood issue, particularly by meeting with the community and noble Lords in a way that has been utterly helpful and completely sympathetic. We all know that it has devoured an enormous amount of his time, and we all respect and admire the care he has given to handling this issue. I hope that he will be able to give the reassurance today—to my noble friend Lady Brinton, the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, and the House—that is sought by the infected blood community; it would be a great relief to them.

Many of us had telephone calls yesterday in which extreme concern was expressed about what was happening in view of the calling of the general election, the fear that the Bill might be lost and that further improvements or reassurance on the scheme might not be possible. I add that it would have been a crying shame if this Bill had been lost and had not got through the wash-up. That seemed a real problem yesterday; there was concern that it would happen. It has got through, and for that we are extremely grateful.

It is also a great shame that the Arbitration Bill and the Litigation Funding Agreements (Enforceability) Bill look as if they are under threat. That is ridiculous. The Arbitration Bill is a Law Commission Bill. It has to start in the House of Lords, it went through a long Special Public Bill Committee procedure, ably chaired by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, and there is no opposition to it. Similarly, the Litigation Funding Agreements (Enforceability) Bill has no opposition. These are two Bills important to the British economy because of the contribution that the legal services sector makes to it as a whole. For the progress of those Bills to Royal Assent before Prorogation to be stymied by an absurd convention that, if it has not already been introduced in the other House, a Bill will necessarily fail, is wrong. In those circumstances, I profoundly hope that the Whips in the Commons can come to an agreement. As I understand it, there is all-round agreement in the Lords that these Bills should go through. They must be taken through, just as this Bill has been taken through.

We are very grateful that this Bill has gone through. However, if the other Bills that are non-controversial and agreed cannot get through, the procedure on the wash-up needs a radical shake-up.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Marks, has absolutely nailed it, and I absolutely agree with him about the Arbitration Bill, although my pay grade is much too low to do anything about any of those things.

This is one of those times when we are allowed to say “Thank you” and “Didn’t we do well?” Thank goodness we have this Bill and that it did not fall with the call of the general election. Between us in this House, we have improved the deal for victims across the country. We have given powers to our Victims’ Commissioner which she needs to do her job. I thank everybody we have worked with: my noble friend Lord Ponsonby, who is of course in court today—I do not think he has done anything wrong—the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, the noble Lord, Lord Marks, and the ministerial team. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy, has been a model of what you need in a Minister in your Lordships’ House in that he is always prepared to listen, to discuss and to hear what might be needed, and when something is just, he seems to be able to act on it. You cannot ask for much more than that. I thank the Bill team, because I know what hard work it is to be a Bill team. I also thank my own people in our office, who have been backing us up on this Bill. I am just very glad that it has made it through wash-up.

I will briefly add two sentences. In respect of the provisions dealing with the Parole Board and the IPP parts of the Bill, I pay a special tribute to the Lord Chancellor and Minister for Justice, and—although I know he will disclaim any responsibility—the Minister in this House. It has been a great pleasure to see the way in which, although we do not agree on everything, we have made huge reforms to the IPP system, and for that we all ought to be truly grateful.

Speaking of what the noble Lord, Lord Marks, and the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, said, it is of the utmost importance that we should find a means—I do not believe it is precluded by precedent—of at least getting the Arbitration Bill forward, for all the reasons that he put forward. However, I pay tribute to the Minister on that Bill as well—he has worked so hard on it—and to the teams on both Bills for what they have done.

It is not the Oscars ceremony, but I just wanted to agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, and the noble Lord, Lord Marks, in relation to the Arbitration Bill. I am precluded by the rules of the House from mentioning the other, uncontentious piece of legislation—but I quietly agree with him.

My Lords, I just want to say that it is the Victims and Prisoners Bill and it is very important that we acknowledge the work that has been achieved for IPP prisoners. I thank the team for that. Even though I wanted it to go further, I understand when progress has been made.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy, will not mind me saying that the noble Lord, Lord Roborough, and the noble Earl, Lord Howe, have also been very receptive and very helpful. For the first time since I have been here, I have had meetings with officials—it has all felt very grown up—in which I felt that they were listening and that things were being done. So, on this Bill at least, I felt that it was a very constructive engagement. Even though sometimes we have to be antagonistic and critical of the Government and the Front Bench, because they do not do exactly what we want them to do, that does not mean that we do not appreciate the work that has gone on and goes on. I for one will now be contacting the IPP prisoners who, like the people who have been mentioned in relation to the blood scandal, have been, with their families, contacting me all night, saying, “Please don’t let this drop”. Leaseholders are less happy, but that is a different story. Anyway, in this instance, I say thank you on behalf of both victims and prisoners.

My Lords, I thank my noble and learned friend Lord Bellamy, the ministerial team and everybody across the Chamber from different teams. It has been heartwarming to see everybody trying to get the best result for victims and their families and make sure that the system understands what their journey is about. I also thank the Bill team, whom I have worked with not just on this Bill but as Victims’ Commissioner. I am very proud to be able to work my way round in that role as well.

Most importantly, it was not very nice to have “victims and prisoners” on the Bill, but we are where we are. However, to understand what victims go through is very important. I give huge congratulations on not throwing the baby out with the bath-water in all the politics. This is about people and this legislation is so important. It is a driver for getting other things on to it, whoever gets into power. It is important never to forget that victims have a voice and that voice must always be listened to. That is, as legislators, how we make legislation far better as it goes through these Houses.

I thank the ministerial team and everybody else who has joined in support of these amendments.

My Lords, mindful that this is somewhat exceptional procedure at this stage of a Bill’s passage, I shall first address the points and questions raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, to whom I am grateful for the opportunity to provide some clarity on various aspects of the infected blood compensation scheme.

On Monday, as the House is aware, the infected blood inquiry published its final report. By any standards, this was a very significant day. As the Prime Minister said, the report shows a decades-long moral failure at the heart of our national life. So the importance of ensuring that we provide a clear commitment from all sides of the House, as I believe there is, on doing what is right for the infected and affected victims, cannot be overstated. We must progress this legislation and we must continue to engage with the infected blood community on the details of the proposed scheme, ahead of those details being set in regulation. I hope that all parties join me in that sentiment.

I turning to the specific questions raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton. On the issue of interim payments, I reassure her that this legislation still provides for the duty of interim payments to the estates of deceased infected people where payments were not previously received. In addition, a further interim payment of £210,000 is being made to living infected persons in recognition that this will meet the needs of those most likely to be disadvantaged by the passage of time. This payment will be delivered separately by the infected blood support schemes.

The Government are working to deliver these payments to the living infected as a matter of urgency. This morning, the Department of Health and Social Care laid a Written Ministerial Statement to seek a contingencies fund advance to make these payments in England and the Minister for the Cabinet Office met the relevant Health Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to discuss these operational details. We are working with the devolved Administrations to make these payments swiftly across the UK and I am assured that we share a joint determination to make them as swiftly as possible. Once we have finalised the process with the devolved Administrations, those due to receive these payments will receive details of the date of payment directly from the infected blood support scheme that they are registered with. All interim compensation payments will be deducted from any final payment.

The noble Baroness raised questions on the definition of hepatitis C and related matters. In line with the recommendations of the infected blood inquiry, those infected with hepatitis C will be eligible for compensation, and this includes those whose infection lasted less than six months and those whose infection became chronic—by which we mean it lasted more than six months. Those who had a chronic hepatitis infection that has now cleared as a result of successful treatment will still be eligible to claim compensation.

On the questions that the noble Baroness raised on how the core route has been calculated and the other conditions which indicate hepatitis C progression, let me reassure her that, as announced by the Minister for the Cabinet Office in another place, Sir Robert Francis will now conduct an engagement exercise with the community before regulations to establish the scheme are made, and further details on that will be released shortly.

The noble Baroness also asked why the illustrative tables provide figures for living infected persons only. This is because awards in relation to deceased persons with an infection have a much greater degree of variability depending, for example, on the duration of their illness before they passed away. Publishing an illustrative table for deceased persons, given that awards will differ quite markedly depending on individual circumstances, would not be very helpful.

Compensation with regard to a deceased individual will be distributed to the estate, as the noble Baroness mentioned, and bereaved partners and other affected dependants. The Government are also providing a technical briefing with key representatives of the infected blood community to explain the Government’s proposals, as set out on GOV.UK, and I am confident that will be a useful discussion.

The noble Baroness asked a further question about financial loss incurred by affected dependants of a deceased infected person. Where an infected person has, sadly, died, those who were reliant on them at the time of their death—for example, a partner or child under 18—will receive a financial loss award under the scheme to recognise this loss. On the duration of the blood support schemes, let me reassure the noble Baroness that the establishment of the scheme will not have any immediate impact on the support payments received through the infected blood support schemes and there will be no gap in the payments provided to beneficiaries.

The support schemes are delivered separately in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and decisions on individual schemes will be for the devolved Administrations. No one will be worse off under the final compensation scheme than they would have been under existing support schemes. However, the infected blood compensation scheme will compensate for both past and future losses suffered as a result of infected blood.

Once assessed under the scheme, the applicant will be able to choose how to receive their compensation, as either a lump sum or periodic payments. This means that those who value the security of a regular payment will be able to receive compensation in this way. I hope that clarification is helpful.

In the event that the infected blood compensation authority assesses that a person is entitled to less compensation through the compensation scheme than would otherwise have been paid to them through continued infected blood support scheme payments, an additional top-up payment will be provided to bring the compensation they receive up to the level of the support payments. Any top-up payment awarded will take into account other compensation payments that a person has received through the scheme, either in their own right or as an estate beneficiary. This will ensure that no one will receive less compensation through the compensation scheme than they would have received through the payments to which they would otherwise have been entitled through existing support schemes.

I hope my words have provided reassurance to the noble Baroness, and, more widely, to the infected blood community, many of whom have followed the passage of this legislation with close attention. As we have seen throughout the passage of the Bill, and following the announcements this week, there is cross-party agreement to progress work on infected blood, and the Government will continue to deliver what was set out on Tuesday.

As we reach the concluding stages of the Victims and Prisoners Bill, I express my gratitude, and that of my noble and learned friend Lord Bellamy and my noble friend Lord Roborough, to noble Lords on all sides of the House for their amendments, engagement and collaboration throughout the passage of this Bill. Through its stages in this place, between us we have made vital changes to strengthen code compliance measures for victims, establish the body to pay compensation to victims of the infected blood scandal, and bring forward a package of reforms for those sentenced to imprisonment for public protection sentences. I am confident that the Bill leaves this House as a package that truly delivers for victims and the public.

In expressing my thanks to noble Lords, I am mindful of the difficulty of singling out colleagues by name, but I extend particular thanks to the Victims’ Commissioner, my noble friend Lady Newlove, whose expertise has been vital throughout these stages.

Lastly, I express my deep gratitude, and that of my noble and learned friend Lord Bellamy and my noble friend Lord Roborough, to members of the Bill team and all officials in the Cabinet Office, whose hard work and professionalism have been exemplary. Were it not contrary to custom and practice, I would mention them by name.

This is important legislation, and I am pleased that it will make it to the end of its parliamentary passage ahead of Dissolution. I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

Bill passed and returned to the Commons with amendments.

Sitting suspended.