Usdaw calls for full Parliamentary vote after coalition stitches up debate

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The government has forced through swingeing cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme after fixing a Parliamentary debate.

The cuts were two months ago rejected by a majority of Conservative MPs in a committee but yesterday government MPs supported the very same proposals when they appeared before a different committee, stuffed with party loyalists.

Even then the plans were only passed by two votes, with just nine MPs voting for them. In accusing the coalition of “changing the Committee instead of changing the proposals”, Usdaw wants to see the debate put before the whole House of Commons.

General secretary John Hannett said: “Yesterday the Tory-led coalition turned its back on the victims of violent crime and did so in a way so totally shameless and outrageous it should never be trusted on law and order again.

“Not only has it slashed vital financial support for innocent victims of crime, it has had the temerity to try and dress this up as ‘doing the right thing’ for them. To add further insult to injury, it tells victims that instead they might be able to go cap in hand to an ill-defined ‘hardship fund’ worth just one per cent of the support they have taken away.

“For these cuts to be implemented by a margin of just two votes and with only 9 MPs voting in favour is a total scandal and an affront to democracy. Usdaw hasn’t given up on this yet and we will do all we can to secure a debate on this before the entire House of Commons.”

Just 18 MPs had a vote on the cuts and the ten government MPs included a minister, a whip, 4 parliamentary private secretaries, the president of the Liberal Democrats and a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party. Usdaw thinks cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme should have been properly scrutinised by the entire House of Commons, rather than being delegated to a form of ad hoc committee more normally used to process less controversial business.

 The current CICS makes awards to between 30,000 and 40,000 people each year who are seriously injured following a crime of violence. The cuts approved today mean that in future half of all victims will no longer be eligible for compensation and almost 90% will lose out, including those most seriously injured and even the dependents of murder victims.

The revised Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme will now come into force later this month and possibly as early as Monday 5 November, although Usdaw is calling for the scheme to be debated by the entire House of Commons before this happens. Usdaw has been campaigning hard against the cuts to the scheme on behalf of the many retail staff injured every year in robberies and assaults at work.

 


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