This is a very simple Bill, dealing with a simple matter. During the war, it was decided that provision should be made for the payment of compensation for personal injuries which might be suffered by reason of bomb or mine explosion or other warlike acts. The injuries contemplated were such as might be suffered by civilians. It was also decided that similar provisions should be made to meet claims by members of the Local Defence Force, Local Security Force and Air Raid Precautions services in the discharge of their duty. During the war, such provision was made by Emergency Powers Order and when these were made disappear at a later period, most of these provisions were kept alive by the Continuation of Compensation Schemes Act, 1946. It was discovered that, while that Act maintained the schemes as they were, it did not make provision for any amendment of them.
The rates ordinarily paid were related to the rates for workmen's compensation. Recently, the basic compensation, that payable to a totally disabled person under the Workmen's Compensation Act legislation, has been increased from 37/6—which it was since 1943—to 50/-. It is quite clear that, as other personal injury claims always bore a relation to that rate, they should be forced up to the same basic point, taking a totally disabled person as an example. The other rates will be related to that. In this present Bill, provision is made for the amendment of the schemes. The Bill itself costs nothing, but it is proposed to make new schemes when the power to amend is given by this legislation. These schemes will be based upon the rates of compensation now payable under the new Workmen's Compensation Act. In other words, the basic rate will be 50/-. There are some claims that may still come in. Some civilians were injured in one accident and although the claims have been formulated they have not yet been received in official form, owing to difficulty about medical examination. Those for whom provision was made under the Air Raids Precautions Act are not included in this case, as that particular Act included power to amend the scheme and the scheme has been amended with retrospective effect to the 1st January of this year at the 50/- rate. We can leave that out of the calculation. The number of people at present being paid is not numerous. There are 41 civilians, 42 members of the L.D.F. and 12 members of the L.S.F. The payments to these people amount to something short of £4,000 in the year. Under the new schemes, following the passage of this legislation, the basic compensation will be increased by about a third, imposing a charge on the State of £1,000 or £1,200 in the year. It is proposed to make it retrospective to the 1st January, 1949.