The government has just managed to ward off another possible revolt in the House of Commons from Tory MPs. It failed earlier this autumn to get a revision of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme through a delegated legislation committee when four Conservative MPs present refused to support it. The revised scheme will see half of all those seriously injured following a violent crime receiving no compensation at all and nearly 90 per cent of victims receiving less money. So John Redwood, Angie Bray, Jonathan Evans and Bob Blackman threatened to rebel, leading to Justice Minister Helen Grant withdrawing the legislation from the committee.
Grant brought the legislation before committee again this morning, but this time there were different MPs considering the plans. The Conservative MPs were Robert Buckland, David Evenett, Rebecca Harris, John Howell, Jessica Lee, Bob Neill and Lee Scott. There was one other big change which means those who initially raised concerns and were threatening to rebel if it came down to a vote in the House of Commons, too, are now happy. Grant told the committee that there would be a £500,000 hardship fund for victims of crime who find themselves in ‘real and immediate financial hardship’ as a result of their injury. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said:
‘We are dedicated to preserving compensation to the most seriously-injured victims of crime. But where less serious injuries have been caused, we believe taxpayers’ money is better spent providing support and help rather than what are often small amounts of compensation well after the crime has been committed.
‘We listened carefully to the concerns raised and believe we must do more to help those very low earners who may find themselves in real and immediate financial hardship. We are therefore establishing a £500,000 hardship fund for people who are temporarily unable to work and not in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay or an equivalent employer-provided scheme.’
Remember that John Redwood, hardly the most enthusiastic anti-cuts campaigner in Parliament, made an angry intervention at the committee about the changes to the scheme, saying he hadn’t come into politics to cut compensation for the victims of crime. He now says he is happy that his colleagues have considered the changes and have approved them. It looks as though when this does come before the Commons, those Conservatives who were agitated about the proposals have been sufficiently placated to support it in the division lobbies.