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Damages for whiplash injuries

Part of Civil Liability Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 23rd October 2018.

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Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch Vice-Chair, Conservative Party 5:00 pm, 23rd October 2018

I rise to speak in support of the Bill and to oppose amendment 2. First, however, I will remind the House why we need the Bill; we have heard it over and over again in the debate. I know that other Members have had similar experiences of nuisance calls from ambulance-chasing companies, and many of my constituents certainly have. As of this week, I am still receiving calls from companies telling me that they had heard I had been in a car accident that was not my fault—this must have been the 10th time that I received such a call this year. Needless to say, I have not been involved in any car accident then or since.

However, this debate is not about nuisance calls, but about the incentives behind them, which are to encourage unnecessary and, in many cases, fraudulent insurance claims that are difficult, if not impossible, to prove. If we remove the incentive for claims companies to act in this way, we will get rid of the ones encouraging fraud and probably the nuisance calls as well. So many would welcome this. Because of the actions of these companies, insurance premiums for honest, safe and sensible drivers reached a record high of £493 at the end of 2017. As other Members have mentioned, young drivers in particular already pay over double the average premium.

For so many of us, motor insurance premiums are one of the highest bills we pay. The Government have repeatedly expressed that their mission is to get a country that works for everyone, and reducing costs for the “just about managing” is one way to do that. It has also been said several times in the debate that these measures, alongside the secondary legislation, will reduce the cost of motor insurance premiums on average by around £35 a year. I know that many of my constituents would appreciate much lower motor insurance premiums.

I also echo the points made by my hon. Friend Huw Merriman about the strain on public services. At present, with a discount rate of minus 0.75%, the NHS is overpaying on claims for clinical negligence, which is adding to pressure on the public purse. In 2017-18, around £400 million in additional funds had to be provided to the NHS as a consequence of the change in the discount rate. In 2016-17, the NHS spent £1.7 billion on clinical negligence cases. The annual cost has almost doubled since 2010, with an average 13.5% increase every year. Like everyone in this House, I am looking forward to the end of austerity, and perhaps this Bill can help us to get there.