The 2017 general election changed the political shape of the House of Commons. Mathematically, the number of 650 MPs equals that of a square pyramid (144+121+100+81+64+49+36+25+16+9+4+1); although it might be said that the hung Parliament that the election has produced is not necessarily as robust as its arithmetical analogue.
At 328, the sum of Conservative (318) and DUP (10) seats would be sufficient to govern and this seems to be where matters are headed. What might these developments mean for insurance-related measures which had been shelved or side-lined pending the election?
On 28 March the Public Bills Committee heard evidence from Brett Dixon, of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, Rob Townend of Aviva and James Dalton of the Association of British Insurers. The context was legislative scrutiny of the whiplash measures to be found at part 5 of the Prison and Courts Bill currently proceeding in the Commons. Opening the evidence session, Sir Oliver Heald MP, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, asked this question: “In recent years, since 2005, we have seen a fall in the number of road accidents, we have seen safer vehicles and we have seen a more than 50% increase in whiplash-related claims. Can you put this in perspective and tell us what you think the problem is and whether you think our tariff system is going any way to solving it?”
Debates in Westminster Hall take place away from the main Commons chamber and generally serve to raise awareness of the subject matter. Access to justice, debated this Wednesday, is an important topic, covering current MoJ “whiplash reforms” (small claims limit for personal injuries and general damages for minor soft tissue injuries) as well as employment tribunal fees, legal aid and court closures.