Small Claims Track: vulnerable road users

Part of Civil Liability Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:15 pm ar 11 Medi 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice 3:15, 11 Medi 2018

Given that we are coming towards the end of the proceedings, I again pay tribute to right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the Committee for the quality of debate. It has been quite testing personally: a lot of very learned friends have asked a lot of fundamental questions, ranging from inflation rates to the good challenges from my friend David Hanson, who keeps me on my toes. I thank them very much for their various contributions.

With the final group of amendments, we come to questions that relate to some of the debates that we have had already, in different forms. This in effect is a subset of the arguments made on new clause 1. As right hon. and hon. Members will remember, new clause 1 involved an argument that the reductions should be made in relation to all personal injury claims. These proposals take the same arguments and apply them to two subsets of people who are injured: vulnerable road users and people injured in the course of employment. On both those things, there are some differences between us, again, on the correct level at which to set the rate, but there are also some important concessions that are worth bearing in mind. They were made in the House of Lords and in the subsequent process.

In relation, first, to people injured in the course of employment, personal injury claims that are not as a result of whiplash, we have listened very carefully to right hon. and hon. Members. They will remember that in the initial consultations there were suggestions about raising the limit to £10,000 or £5,000. The agreement has been that for non-whiplash-related injuries, it is kept at £2,000.

There is some discussion about whether it is correct to see that in terms of CPI or RPI—the retail prices index—but broadly speaking, it is not very significantly different from the rates that were set in the 1990s when inflation was applied, although there is some disagreement between the two sides of the House, to the extent of a few hundred pounds, on the extent of headroom put on top of inflation. There could be a broader argument, which was raised earlier, about the fundamental principle that compensation should be paid for the injury rather than on the basis of why somebody was present on the scene, whether in the course of employment or another activity. However, that goes beyond the scope of the amendment.

The real concession has been made in relation to vulnerable road users, which I hope hon. Members on both sides of the House will welcome. We listened carefully to representations made primarily not by people who own horses—although I remind hon. Members that there are more than a million horses in the United Kingdom, so it is not quite as much of a minority pursuit as some might like—but by cyclists, who led a strong campaign arguing that they are particularly vulnerable on the roads. They are: they are not encased in a sheet of metal. We accept that the same argument also applies in spades to pedestrians—as a proud pedestrian, I feel that very strongly—and to people on motorcycles, who are not encased in metal either.

We are delighted to confirm that vulnerable road users will be excluded in respect of the small claims limit and the Bill. On that basis, with many thanks to everybody for their prodigious and learned contributions, I politely ask that the amendment be withdrawn.