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Clause 3 — Regulations about claims procedure

Part of Riot Compensation Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:00 am on 5th February 2016.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 10:00 am, 5th February 2016

I, too, want to associate myself with your comments, Mr Speaker, following the sad loss of Harry Harpham. Members throughout the House can all say that Harry was a dedicated public servant. Although we had the privilege of having him in the House only for a short time, he clearly served with distinction in his community, having sat on Sheffield City Council, and he was dedicated to public service. The fact that as recently as 20 January, Harry was here at Prime Minister’s questions standing up for constituents on an issue he believed in, Sheffield Forgemasters, underlines the sort of person he was, the dedication he showed and the fact that he always wanted to stand up for his constituents. The whole House will wish to pass its condolences, thoughts and prayers to his wife, Gill, his children and his whole family, his friends, colleagues and everyone who knew him and who mourns his loss.

I congratulate my hon. Friend Mike Wood on the manner in which he has sought to advance the Bill. He has clearly reflected on the helpful debates in Committee, to which the Minister for Policing, Crime and Criminal Justice responded. The Committee worked on themes that were started on Second Reading. I believe that my hon. Friend’s amendments are helpful additions and clarifications to the Bill.

Amendment 1 deals with the time limits, which are set at not less than 42 days and 90 days respectively for lodging claims and producing detailed evidence. That is the right approach to the lodging of an initial claim, and then it is right to allow more time for detailed information to be provided. We support placing those minimum requirements in the Bill.

For clarification and for the further assurance of right hon. and hon. Members, I underline that there might be some exceptional circumstances in which more time is required, perhaps when a claimant falls ill and cannot meet the deadlines, when evidence has been destroyed or cannot be accessed due to riot damage, or when final cost estimates are contingent on other processes such as planning permission or some other regulatory requirements. We expect the regulations sitting alongside the Bill to provide some flexibility in case of extenuating circumstances and to allow extensions of time, while recognising the framework and the statutory minimums set out in the Bill.

Amendments 2 and 3 deal with payments for alternative accommodation. They will allow compensation to be paid to uninsured individuals whose home has become uninhabitable as a result of a riot, to cover the cost of alternative accommodation. Amendment 3 makes it clear that regulations may provide for further details of considerations to be taken into account when such claims are made, as well as the length of time for which such costs may be covered.

During the passage of the Bill, Members have highlighted a number of cases in which their constituents had suffered significant hardship following the 2011 riots. We have certainly heard that from Mr Lammy and Mr Reed.