We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Damages for whiplash injuries

Part of Civil Liability Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 4:00 pm on 23rd October 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Conservative, Bexhill and Battle 4:00 pm, 23rd October 2018

My hon. Friend is right. When I was running the legal team, it always distressed me when we settled because, as a lawyer, I found the whole court process incredibly interesting, but those on the financial side insisted that we settle because that was the better business decision to make. However, my hon. Friend is right about the distress of individuals going through the process. Of course, insurers have to focus not just on the money, but on the valuable human resource implication—the manpower it takes to fight the claims.

That comes back to my point that it is not an issue for insurers if ultimately their costs are covered because the price of premium for everybody else goes up. It is no skin off the bone for them to settle, and that is what occurs. For change, Government action is required. Although I readily accept that a tariff situation is genuinely not to be found in common law, the position that we have got ourselves into means that we need to look at the system akin to the way that we consider the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, which fixes the tariff in the same way. That is not unusual if we look at our European friends such as Italy, France and Spain, where similar systems are in place.

I represent a largely rural constituency of 200 square miles. I have many younger constituents who find the price of insurance too great. Studies show that, for those aged between 18 and 21, 10% of their wage will be taken just to cover their insurance. In a rural constituency, there is no choice. If people do not have a car, they find it very difficult to travel. The bus services are not as they were and, without a car, people cannot get from A to B or go to work. That has a knock-on effect because 28% of my constituents are over 65—the national average is 17%—so I have a lot of older constituents who need looking after. We have high social care bills. If we lose our younger people to the cities because they cannot afford to travel around a rural constituency, the balance goes completely.