Clause 2

Driving Instruction (Suspension and Exemption Powers) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 17th June 2009.

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Compensation in respect of suspension

Amendments made: 11, in clause 2, page 3, line 13, after ‘Registrar’, insert

‘decides not to refuse the application for an extension of the person’s registration or (as the case may be)’.

This amendment would extend the circumstances in which compensation may be payable to those where the Registrar suspends an instructor pending a decision in respect of an application made under s127(1) of the RTA 1988, but then decides not to refuse that application.

Amendment 12, in clause 2, page 3, line 16, after ‘Registrar’, insert

‘to refuse the application for an extension of the person’s registration or (as the case may be)’.

This amendment would extend the circumstances in which compensation may be payable to those where the Registrar suspends an instructor pending a decision in respect of an application made under s127(1) of the RTA 1988 and subsequently decides to refuse that application, but the instructor successfully appeals that decision.

Amendment 13, in clause 2, page 3, line 19, after ‘Registrar’, insert

‘to refuse the application for an extension of the person’s registration or (as the case may be)’.—(Paul Clark.)

This amendment would limit compensation so that, where the Registrar decides to refuse the instructor’s application under s127(1) of the RTA 1988 and that decision is successfully appealed after taking effect, it may only relate to any suspension imposed in relation to the application.

Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

I beg to move amendment 14, in clause 2, page 3, line 41, leave out from ‘may’ to end of line 44 and insert ‘appeal to the First-tier Tribunal’.

This amendment changes the venue for appeals against compensation awards from the Transport Tribunal to the First-tier Tribunal, which is established under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.

Photo of David Wilshire David Wilshire Conservative, Spelthorne

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: amendment 15, in clause 2, page 3, line 45, leave out ‘Transport Tribunal’ and insert ‘First-tier Tribunal’.

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 14.

Amendment 16, in clause 2, page 3, line 45, leave out ‘they consider’ and insert ‘it considers’.

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 14.

Amendment 17, in clause 2, page 4, line 1, leave out ‘consider’ and insert ‘considers’.

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 14.

Amendment 22, in schedule 1, page 9, line 11, leave out from ‘may’ to end of line 14 and insert ‘appeal to the First-tier Tribunal’.

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 14.

Amendment 23, in schedule 1, page 9, line 15, leave out ‘Transport Tribunal’ and insert ‘First-tier Tribunal’.

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 14.

Amendment 24, in schedule 1, page 9, line 15, leave out ‘they consider’ and insert ‘it considers’.

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 14.

Amendment 25, in schedule 1, page 9, line 17, leave out ‘consider’ and insert ‘considers’.

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 14.

Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

I have the pleasure of speaking to all those amendments in the name of the Government. The Bill provides for compensation to be paid to suspended driving instructors in certain circumstances. Where an affected instructor disputes the Secretary of State’s decision on whether they are entitled to compensation, or what the level of compensation should be, the Bill permits an appeal to the transport tribunal. The amendments are necessary to change the body that will decide appeals regarding compensation under the Bill from the transport tribunal to the first-tier tribunal created under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. That is in consequence of the intended transfer of the transport tribunal’s functions to the new tribunal in the near future.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Shadow Minister (Transport)

I have one brief question on which the Minister might want to comment. When we dealt with the money resolution, we talked about a figure of five or six cases a year in which compensation might be payable and around £60,000 in total to include both the administration and the compensation. While it is fairly easy to identify a figure for loss of income, does he have any concerns that a reputation figure might well be inflated? Is he content that the figures we are talking about are likely to be the sort of figures settled upon in such cases?

Photo of Willie Rennie Willie Rennie Chair of Parliamentary Campaigns; Shadow Defence Minister

I accept the amendments. It is really about a name change. The tribunals Act has changed the name of the tribunal from the transport tribunal to the first-tier tribunal, so it is a logical update. The compensation is necessary, but it only covers the period when the person has been suspended, not the period after the termination or any other effects, apart from reputation. The number of cases has been estimated at five or six, but I think that that is at the upper level, because we are not dealing with a lot of people who have been convicted and go on to be removed as a result.

I leave the Minister to respond on what he thinks is an appropriate level of compensation. That is difficult to judge, because it depends on what the reputation of the person concerned was before, which will have to be considered. It is appropriate to have a compensation scheme because Governments, although it is difficult to believe, sometimes get it wrong and we do not appropriately suspend people all the time.

Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

First, in response to the question from the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby, I think that the figure of five or six cases a year that has been indicated is at the upper end of the scale. Indeed, members of the Committee have indicated that that would act as a deterrent to anyone who might be  marginally in that position. Secondly, the estimates we have made give a figure in the region of those figures we have been talking about.

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Chair, Procedure Committee

My reading of subsection (4) is that the Minister may, in due course, specify a scheme whereby certain areas of compensation are excluded. In other words, it may well be that the Minister’s ultimate scheme does not allow for compensation for loss of reputation. Can he confirm that? Furthermore, as the scheme is not actually set out in the Bill, can he give an undertaking that, when he is putting it in place, he will write to every member of the Committee to give us details about its precise terms?

Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport 10:00 am, 17th June 2009

On that point, the scheme makes provision for potential loss of earnings and an effect on reputation. The right hon. Gentleman is right that the Bill allows the details of the scheme to be drawn up subsequently. Certainly, I will give the undertaking to write to members of the Committee with details of the scheme.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: 15, in clause 2, page 3, line 45, leave out ‘Transport Tribunal’ and insert ‘First-tier Tribunal’.

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 14.

16, in clause 2, page 3, line 45, leave out ‘they consider’ and insert ‘it considers’.

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 14.

17, in clause 2, page 4, line 1, leave out ‘consider’ and insert ‘considers’.

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 14.(Paul Clark.)

Clause 2, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.