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Clause 8 — Reviews and appeals

Part of Riot Compensation Bill – in the House of Commons at 11:44 am on 5th February 2016.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 11:44 am, 5th February 2016

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend Mike Wood for his excellent stewardship of the Bill. It takes enormous focus, dedication and drive to take a private Member’s Bill through this House. It is not straightforward. I commend him for identifying this important issue, which has affected so many of our communities, and for having the ability, early in his parliamentary career, not only to bring the Bill forward, but to chart its passage through this House. It will now go on to the other place and, I hope, become law so that he achieves what he wants, which is to provide the protection and benefit of a safety net for those who are drawn into something that we hope will never happen, but which experience tells us might happen. We need those protections to be properly in place so that we no longer need to fit into the Victorian legislative framework, with concepts such as “riotous or tumultuous assembly”, but have legislation that reflects the needs of our modern society.

As we prepare to send the Bill to the other place, I want to express my gratitude to Members on both sides of the House who have engaged in a constructive and thoughtful debate on these measures. They have added to our scrutiny and consideration, and have added benefit to the Bill. We have reflected on how best to support communities, families and people in recovering from the often devastating impacts of riots.

Some of the contributions with the greatest impact have been made by Members who represent riot-affected constituencies. They have spoken movingly and with passion about the difficulty and distress that is caused to individuals, families and business owners by riots, particularly those of 2011. Five people—Trevor Ellis, Haroon Jahan, Shahzad Ali, Abdul Musavir and Richard Mannington Bowes—lost their lives in those riots. It is right that we remember them at this time. Our sympathies remain with their families, friends and all who loved them. Their memory reminds us of the impact that these appalling events can have. Although our debate has rightly and inevitably been about issues of compensation, it is people’s lives that we are talking about. The contributions of many right hon. and hon. Members have underlined that point. This Bill is important because it will help people build their lives back up after such appalling events.

The Bill will not prevent riots, nor will it tackle the base criminality that often surrounds them, but it will provide the legislative platform for a modern, well thought-out package of compensation for people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves facing damage and loss to their homes and businesses. It will also help those caught in the wake of a riot to recover from the violence and criminality more easily.

The amendment that my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley South proposed to cover the cost of alternative accommodation for those who are left homeless in a riot is important. When these measures become law, the Government will work to ensure that the compensation can be accessed quickly by individuals in the aftermath of a riot, recognising that rapid support and reassurance are of the utmost importance. The further amendment to set out the time limits on the face of the Bill demonstrates our commitment to provide a more generous approach to the submission of claims and evidence. As I have indicated, further flexibility on deadlines to cover extenuating circumstances will be provided for in regulations.

The Bill provides an important legislative platform for outlining what individuals and businesses affected by riots will be entitled to. It will be supplemented by regulations that will cover a number of important aspects, such as underlining our commitment to afford new-for-old replacements in most circumstances, providing more detail on the riot claims bureau, and confirming that charity payments will not be deducted from riot compensation payments. In addition to the regulations, as stated in previous stages of the Bill, we will also publish guidance for the public and decision makers, to provide further awareness and understanding of the legislation. As has been said, this is not simply about the law; it is about how the schemes are applied so that people know how they can claim, what they need to provide, and when they need to do that. We must respond to those practical realities, and consider how we can learn from the experience of the 2011 riots, incidents of flooding and other events where support needs to be provided.

In conclusion, the Bill sets out the framework for a modern, fair and affordable compensation scheme that supports communities that are recovering from riots, without placing unreasonable burdens on the taxpayer. The amendments and improvements that have been made are in keeping with that principle, and the Government support them. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley South for using the time afforded to him to promote a private Member’s Bill to deal with an important issue that has affected so many lives. As the Bill proceeds to the other place, I believe that it will provide assurance and protection into the future, and the framework that it provides means that it will remain as relevant as it is now for decades to come.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.