Greg Knight: Does my hon. Friend agree that one way forward might be to follow the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Bim Afolami) to increase the availability of compensation to passengers who have been badly treated?
Greg Knight: I am most grateful to the Minister for giving way. Perhaps he should have gone to Specsavers. Will he say a little bit more about compensation? Some of the people who have to pay rates, which they will now get back, may have deferred business investment decisions, based on a business expense that they were not expecting. There is an arguable case in future for our looking at the issue of...
Greg Knight: First, does my hon. Friend share my disgust that not one Liberal Democrat MP is in the Chamber to discuss an important matter affecting rural communities? Secondly, although retrospection in law is generally to be frowned upon, does she agree that it is most welcome in this case because we are righting a perceived wrong?
Greg Knight: I believe that my hon. Friend’s constituency contains two villages called Bicker and Wrangle, which I have always thought would make an excellent name for a law firm. It was suggested earlier that there should be a compensation fund for those who had had to pay rates in the past, and also for local authorities that had suffered loss. What is my hon. Friend’s view on that, and who...
Greg Knight: The Bill itself does not define what a “nursery ground” is, but the explanatory notes, which are not considered by Parliament and are not part of the legislation, do contain a definition of what a “nursery ground” is. Why is this? Would it not be better to put the definition in the Bill, or does it exist in other legislation?
Greg Knight: Is the Minister in effect saying that all the Bill does is return the law to the same state we all thought it was in before the case of Tunnel Tech v. Reeves?
Greg Knight: I am grateful to the Minister for his generosity in giving way. What would be the position of a business adversely affected by the Court of Appeal decision? Would it be able to claim compensation for any losses suffered?
Greg Knight: Will the Minister clarify something—and if he cannot answer today, will he write to me? In addition to claiming back what has already been paid, will the businesses affected be able to claim costs and any other expenses arising out of the money that they erroneously had to pay?
Greg Knight: Will my right hon. Friend amplify something that he hinted at earlier? Will he confirm that he sees the Government as an interim operator of last resort and that this is not a permanent renationalisation?
Greg Knight: On a point of order, Mr McCabe. Will you speak to the House of Commons authorities about whether it is possible to have the Westminster Hall monitors display the end time of the debate? That would be particularly helpful to Members when there has been a Division—or Divisions—in the main Chamber.
Greg Knight: I believe we should always embrace new technology while cherishing the past. Does my hon. Friend accept that, for people like me who have a journey of more than 220 miles to undertake, for the moment at least, an electric vehicle is not an option?
Greg Knight: Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that Europe and the USA are responsible for only about 2% of ocean litter? Although it matters not to a dolphin or turtle where the plastic it is being strangled by or choking on came from, that means that those of us who wish to address this subject need to focus on rapidly developing countries with inadequate waste disposal systems.
Greg Knight: rose—
Greg Knight: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way, and join him in praising the Government for introducing this measure, but will he include himself in the congratulations, as he was an excellent Transport Minister and had a large part to play in this matter coming before us before, but unfortunately, because of the election, the Bill did not proceed into law?
Greg Knight: Will not the Bill throw into doubt the long-established police practice of an officer on foot jumping into the highway and waving a torch at a motorist in order to stop a vehicle? Would that not be an offence under the Bill because a strict liability offence is proposed, as I understand it, or does my right hon. Friend expect the police to have to pray for salvation and to rely on clause 1(2)...
Greg Knight: I am sorry to labour the point, and I am most grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way. That is what I initially thought would be the answer, but if we look at the Bill, we can see that a laser beam is defined in clause 3 as “a beam of coherent light produced by a device of any kind”— in other words, a torch.
Greg Knight: As the House of Commons is not sitting on 1 April, will the Leader of the House pay tribute today to the Royal Air Force, which celebrates its centenary on Sunday, and will she join me in paying homage to all those who have given their lives to protect our freedom?
Greg Knight: Will my hon. Friend give way?
Greg Knight: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. Does he agree that one thing councils should not do if they are trying to raise money is increase in-town and in-city parking charges? In her report, Mary Portas clearly identified that as a disincentive to the public to shop in our town centres.
Greg Knight: In view of the national importance of this matter, would one way forward be for Vertex, the drug manufacturer, to be willing to be more flexible on costings and price?