European Union Withdrawal Agreement (Public Vote) Bill - 2nd reading – Gareth Thomas.
Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what plans he has to increase the number of cases heard at Harrow Crown Court; and if he will make a statement.
Gareth Thomas: What recent steps he has taken to increase the number of people entering the teaching profession.
Gareth Thomas: If the speech by the hon. Member for Croydon South (Chris Philp) was a bid to get on to the Bill Committee, it was an excellent one, but I fear that I cannot agree with any of the substantive points that he made. As I see it, the Bill will simply increase the profits of insurance companies while reducing the compensation available for those injured in road traffic accidents. Hidden behind...
Gareth Thomas: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Gareth Thomas: Is not one real problem with the increase in the small claims limit the fact that a vast imbalance of resources is imposed between the insurance company on the one hand and the individual making a claim on the other? The individual making a claim will not have their legal costs paid for and will not be able to have an expert lawyer on their side as a result in most cases, while the insurance...
Gareth Thomas: Will the Secretary of State tell the House why there is nothing in the Bill that will allow insurance companies to be held to account for whether or not they pass on the savings that the Bill purports to deliver for consumers?
Gareth Thomas: Does not the Minister accept that one of the further flaws in the Bill is that the genuine victim of a road traffic accident faces receiving less compensation than someone who has a similar accident but not in a road traffic scenario, who receives compensation set not by the Lord Chancellor, but under the judicial guidelines that exist at the moment?
Gareth Thomas: Can the Minister tell the House whether ETS itself is still under criminal investigation? If not, will she take steps to ensure that ETS agrees to release any information reasonably requested by one of its student clients?
Gareth Thomas: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for securing the debate and for his work on this subject. I suspect that a number of Members in the Chamber have, like me, had a series of affected constituents approach them. Given the seriousness of what has happened in the Home Office in the past—never mind that the Minister is new to the subject—does he think that this new scandal merits a...
Gareth Thomas: As I said in my opening remarks, these are probing amendments. I hope that before we get to Report the Minister might be willing to brief my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham South on the progress of the review and where the Government’s initial thinking is on that. That would be helpful and would give confidence to the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham that the Opposition,...
Gareth Thomas: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Gareth Thomas: I beg to move amendment 17, in clause 4, page 2, line 18, lea ve out “whether, and if so how,” and insert “how”. This amendment would mean that the Secretary of State’s report would examine how the law should be changed, and not whether it should be changed.
Gareth Thomas: Again, it was a moment of weakness when I agreed, in the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham South, to speak to her amendments, because I had not realised quite how much commitment she had already shown to the subjects in these amendments. As hon. Members, will know, she has had personal experience, through her constituency, of these issues. She had secured from the previous...
Gareth Thomas: Having once successfully promoted a private Member’s Bill, I understand the difficulties that the hon. Gentleman faces, and I will not press the amendments.
Gareth Thomas: Prior to tabling new clause 1, what discussions did the Minister have with Ministers in Scotland and those who previously served as Ministers in the Northern Ireland Assembly?
Gareth Thomas: For the avoidance of doubt, when the Minister sits down I shall speak to the amendments and then I will be delighted to hear her response.
Gareth Thomas: As a near neighbour it is a particular privilege for me to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Sharma. It was a weak and vulnerable moment when I agreed to support the amendments tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for St Helens North (Conor McGinn), knowing that he would not be here. I say that because, as all hon. Members will be aware, on 28 March he made an impassioned speech promoting...
Gareth Thomas: I find myself in a deeply unusual situation, as it has been difficult to disagree with anything the hon. Gentleman has said thus far. Nevertheless, specifically on new clause 1 and geographical reach, will the Secretary of State’s report cover Northern Ireland and Scotland, or will it not?
Gareth Thomas: Does the Minister expect the report to cover Northern Ireland?