HC Deb 01 December 1965 vol 721 cc1419-21
43. Mr. Abse

asked the Minister of Transport what progress has now been made in the discussions between his Depart- ment and the Motor Insurers' Bureau relating to the responsibility for damages suffered by those who have claims against hit-and-run drivers; whether the Bureau is now prepared to refer such applications to an independent tribunal or make their decisions subject to an appeal in the courts; and whether he will make a statement.

52. Mr. Howe

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will now make a statement on the progress of negotiations that have been proceeding with a view to the revision and improvement of the current agreement with the Motor Insurers' Bureau.

Mr. Swingler

Our consultations with the Motor Insurers' Bureau are progressing favourably. The Bureau has been very co-operative in making detailed constructive suggestions in response to those which we put to them, and these are being examined. They need very careful consideration, and although we cannot at this stage forecast when negotiations will be concluded, there will be no avoidable delay.

Mr. Abse

Will the Parliamentary Secretary note that he has not given any indication in his reply as to whether the negotiations are leading to the possibility of an independent tribunal for appellant jurisdiction? In view of the fact that there is widespread dissatisfaction at the operation of the existing system, will he impress upon the Motor Insurers' Bureau that if it believes that all is fair on its part, there can be nothing wrong in it submitting to people outside the insurance world for decisions?

Mr. Swingler

The negotiations are principally about establishing a method of appeal. There are a number of other questions and as soon as we can report upon them we will do so.

Mr. Howe

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that it is now some nine months since his right hon. Friend told me that this problem was being looked at with the Motor Insurers' Bureau? Is he further aware that in half a dozen States of Australia and in New Zealand, it has been quite simply solved by making provision for the Motor Insurers' Bureau, or its equivalent, to be declared a nominal defendant in proceedings in court, so that the injured party can have the satisfaction of an independent determination of his claim to compensation?

Mr. Swingler

That is one of the proposals which we are considering. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that there is more than one side to the negotiations, which we are pursuing as rapidly as we can.