Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 6:01 pm ar 13 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Offord of Garvel Lord Offord of Garvel Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) 6:01, 13 Mai 2024

My Lords, I will cross-check the record, but my understanding is that these 13 cases are recent and came to the Court of Appeal after the Hamilton judgment, so the courts were aware of the background in those cases.

The noble Lords, Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom, Lord Sikka and Lord McNicol, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, questioned why this legislation does not include the cases prosecuted by the DWP, which we believe amount to 62. The noble Lord, Lord Sikka, asked whether any DWP-prosecuted cases were quashed; we are not aware of any convictions being quashed by the Court of Appeal. These cases, unlike many of the cases prosecuted by the Post Office or the CPS, involved wider corroborating evidence beyond that supplied by the faulty Horizon system, so are unlikely to be unsafe in the same way. The existing and established appeal processes remain available in relation to these cases.

I agree wholeheartedly with the noble Lords, Lord Sikka and Lord Holmes of Richmond, about the importance of delivering financial redress as quickly as possible. I am pleased to say that, as of 30 April, we have paid out more than £200 million in redress to over 2,800 claimants. Under the main Horizon shortfall scheme, 88% of claims have now been received and 72% paid out. We are going as fast as we can; we are reliant on the appeals coming forward and claimants making claims. We expect that, at the moment, many of those with overturned convictions are waiting for this Bill to pass and we expect their claims to come in more quickly following this legislation.

Financial redress is clearly not in scope of this legislation, but I hope it reassures noble Lords to know that, once the necessary legislation has been passed, we will provide a route to full, fair and rapid financial redress for quashed convictions. We will include information about redress in the notifications which we send to postmasters when their convictions are overturned. Our aim is that the redress process will follow seamlessly from the process of overturning convictions.