Compensation Culture

Department for Constitutional Affairs – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 7th September 2004.

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Photo of Andrew Dismore Andrew Dismore Labour, Hendon 2:30 pm, 7th September 2004

If he will make a statement on the conclusions of the Better Regulation Task Force concerning compensation culture.

Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs)

Careful consideration is being given to the recommendations made by the Better Regulation Task Force, and the Government will respond shortly. We oppose strongly anything that contributes to a culture in which people believe that if there is an injury, there must be someone else to blame, and to pay.

Photo of Andrew Dismore Andrew Dismore Labour, Hendon

Does my hon. Friend agree that the conclusion of the Better Regulation Task Force was that there was no compensation culture, which was confirmed by the statistics from the compensation recovery unit last year, which showed a fall of 9 per cent. in the total number of claims? Is it not appropriate that the Government should promote knowledge of the law in this area rather than talk about compensation culture, and perhaps also promote safety culture rather than compensation culture?

Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs)

My hon. Friend is right that it is important that people with genuine claims are able to enforce their rights. The Better Regulation Task Force made a number of recommendations and was keen to encourage the media and others not to talk up a compensation culture, because it did not believe that we had one. It is also right that we consider in detail its report and come forward with our recommendations and proposals shortly.

Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

The compensation culture seems to mean that whenever something goes wrong, someone else must take the blame. I wanted to quantify that, so I wrote to the Secretary of State asking for a list of the total damages awarded for clinical negligence claims in each year since 1997. On 23 August, I received this response from the Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs:

"Owing to a fault on its computer system the Legal Services Commission is unable to provide information on the total value of damages awarded each year as requested."

Do the Government intend to rectify the fault themselves, or to blame someone else?

Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs)

I wish that the hon. Gentleman had bothered to read the recommendation of the Better Regulation Task Force, which suggests that those of us in positions of responsibility should not talk up a compensation culture. It is right for those who are genuinely injured to be able to seek recompense in the courts, but of course none of us wants a have-a-go culture or a blame culture. That is why we are looking at the recommendations carefully and will produce our response shortly.