» Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Compensation for victims of terrorism

Asked to clear up what the Prime Minister answered at PMQs today about compensation to victims of terror, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that what the Prime Minister was saying was that we were looking at two things. The first was recompense to those affected by the 7/7 bombings and secondly, more broadly at the issue of compensation for people in such cases, and we were also looking at the issue of compensation for those affected by terrorist outrages overseas. As the Prime Minister indicated, however, we were in early days of thinking this issue through, and we were not at the point of firm conclusions.

Asked to explain then why two days ago, the Prime Minister wrote a letter to Tobias Elwood, whose brother was killed in Bali, that said "I do not think that extending the territorial scope of the CICS to provide compensation for British victims of terrorism is a right way forward", the PMOS replied that as things stood at the minute, that was the position. What we were looking at was what did we do about those affected by terrorist outrages overseas as opposed to CICS which focused on domestic issues. The PMOS repeated that we were early in the discussion processes.

Asked if that meant a separate scheme, the PMOS said the journalist was asking him to prejudge the outcome of the discussion, which he would not do. We were in the early days.

Put to the PMOS that that was what the Prime Minister had implied, the PMOS said that people were asking him to say what the result of the process of discussions was going to be before the full discussion had happened.

Put to the PMOS again that "logically" it must be new scheme, rather than the CICS, the PMOS said it was a separate issue, but the discussion needed to happen first, before producing a policy outcome.

Put to the PMOS that the journalists had not put the issue in the public domain, the PMOS said that people always complained that the Government did not give journalists an idea of what we were thinking, but when we did tell people what we were thinking, people arrived at firm conclusions immediately. People could not have their cake, and eat it too!

The PMOS said what he was giving people was the factual position which was that yes, this was an issue we were addressing, but no, we had not reached a firm conclusion. We were doing what responsible governments did, which was thinking.

Asked why we were proposing no pay compensation payments to victims of terrorism overseas, but not victims of ODC general crime, and what was the difference, the PMOS replied that he did not know what more he could say on the subject, as people were asking for firm outcomes on a process that was underway. The PMOS said we would produce the conclusions of the process, but we would not give a running commentary on it.

Asked again for further clarification regarding the Tobias Elwood letter, the PMOS said the Prime Minister was responding to specific proposals in the letter, but what the Prime Minister was thinking about today was how we dealt with the general issue, and that we would do.

Asked if the Government saw a moral difference between people who had been injured in a terrorist attack, or who had suffered injury in another way, the PMOS said that they were all part of the issues that were being considered.

Asked if that included soldiers, the PMOS replied that the Army had its own procedures, and those procedures still applied.

Asked again to clarify how the Prime Minister’s letter to Tobias Elwood did not contradict what he said in Parliament today, the PMOS said that whilst he was not aware of the precise content of the letter, from what was read out, the Prime Minister was responding to a specific proposal. What the Prime Minister was talking about today in the Commons was the general issue of compensating people who had been the victims of terror overseas, not a specific proposal.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

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