Clause 8 - Amount and payment of compensation

Part of Riot Compensation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 13th January 2016.

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Photo of Jack Dromey Jack Dromey Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 2:45 pm, 13th January 2016

If one looks back at the experience of the 2011 riots, one sees that the overwhelming majority of claims subsequently lodged were for under £1 million. Having said that, there were claims—albeit a small minority—for more than £1 million. We can understand the argument for capping the costs that fall on the police, but there is a strong argument, which my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham put powerfully, that we should not have an arbitrary cap of £1 million and that if losses exceed £1 million, compensation should be paid. The question in those circumstances is: who pays?

On Second Reading my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham made a very powerful case indeed. It is not difficult to see that for a small or medium-sized family business with, for example, substantial stock, depending upon the nature of the business, the losses sustained might exceed £1 million. I was impressed by my right hon. Friend’s argument that the kind of successful high streets we want to see in our communities is a combination of the big and the small.

I remember debating at length in this very room the Localism Bill in 2010-11, which led to the initiative by Mary Portas on regeneration of our high streets, and what constitutes a successful high street. What we want is for businesses of all kinds, big and small, to come to and make a success of high streets—high streets where people want to go. Crucially, we then need confidence on the part of those businesses that in the unlikely event of a riot, they will not suffer as a consequence and that insurance cover will be provided. One therefore comes back to the cap.

We think that there is an argument for payment of compensation beyond £1 million. There is an argument that compensation of up to £1 million should, in line with historical practice, continue to fall on the police. Beyond £1 million, in circumstances where the police are under immense financial pressures, there is clearly an argument that compensation should not be paid by the police. We would ask the Minister to consider the Home Office accepting responsibility for the payment of compensation over and above £1 million as the Bill progresses.