HC Deb 12 March 1976 vol 907 cc882-98

Order for Second Reading read.

3.4 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The House will remember the tragic case of the Loach family. The family was travelling along the Ml near Watford, all five in one car. Another car shed a wheel and collided with the Loach's car, with the result that the car in which the Loach family was riding crashed into the bollard of a bridge. Two of the family were killed, Mrs. Loach was seriously injured and Mr. Loach and one son were badly hurt.

After four-and-a-half years preparing for a claim in the court for damages resulting from the accident, Mr. and Mrs. Loach could no longer stand the emotional strain of the preparation for litigation and asked their solicitor to drop the case. As a result, they are liable for their solicitor's costs of nearly £1,000.

That is a typical example of how the law requires the vicitim of a road accident to prove that someone else was at fault before he can recover compensation by way of damages. I say deliberately "prove that someone else was at fault" because it is extremely difficult, for example, if one is knocked unconscious in a road accident to find witnesses. Those of us who are solicitors, like myself, who deal with running-down cases are all too familiar with this story. Here I must declare an interest as a solicitor.

We know about the passenger on the bus who falls off because the bus driver has jammed on his brakes too smartly to avoid the negligence of another driver, and the pedestrian who is knocked down by a car but no witnesses will come forward. In those cases no compensation is payable unless the victim can prove that someone else was at fault and unless he can find someone to sue for the fault which brought about the accident.

In about 50 per cent. of the cases of personal injury on the road, proof is not possible because of lack of evidence, lack of independent witnesses and lack of reliable witnesses. We all know the witness who sees the accident happen "in a split second", or who says that he heard the crash, turned round and saw the accident only after it had happened. How can one expect a man who has been knocked unconscious to run around and find the names of witnesses to the accident?

It has been rightly said that a running-down case is a forensic lottery. Added to the gamble of whether there is a witness, there are the cases, such as the Loach case, where the victims cannot face going to court, going through the grisly, ghastly details of torn flesh and human suffering and undergoing cross-examination which is aimed to show that the victim was to blame.

In round figures about 20 people are killed and nearly 900 are injured on our roads every day, and 225 of those 900 are seriously injured. As motorists, we pay about £500 million in insurance premiums. Unfortunately, it is a fallacy to say that that £500 million goes to compensate the victims. A survey of 90 cases of serious bodily injury from traffic accidents in Oxford showed that in only 45 per cent. of those cases was the victim successful in recovering damages. On those figures, the relatives of only nine out of the 20 people killed each day on our roads get damages, and only about 400 out of the 900 injured each day get damages.

It may be that in some cases that is because the accident was their own fault, or they contributed by their own negligence towards it and thereby became disentitled to compensation. But surely we must recognise by now that we live in the age of the motor car, and we must accept that speedy movement by motor car is an integral part of our civilisation and that we cannot divorce the risk of injury to a human being from that use of the motor car, and nor can the lapse into occasional carelessness be divorced from human nature.

I ask the House to accept that we should divorce the right to compensation from the blame for the accident, and that, if the conduct of any party to the accident is so blameworthy as to merit punishment, that is a matter for criminal law.

How does my Bill seek to achieve the objective of compensation in all forms of road accident? Very simply, it is by making the user of a motor vehicle on the road responsible for any death or injury arising out of the use of that vehicle on the road, whoever is to blame. That does not mean, of course, that the user will put his hand in his pocket to pay the damages. It means that his insurance company will pay the damages.

Before anyone throws up his hand in horror and says, "Heavens! What will that mean in increased motor insurance premiums?", I remind the House that about one-fifth of all claims against insurance companies in motor accident cases are third party claims—that is to say, about £100 million of the premiums we pay. There is evidence to show that the cost to insurance companies of investigation and litigation of such claims accounts for some 40 per cent. of the cost of such claims to the insurance companies. Thus, a very large proportion of the premiums which we pay goes to the cost of investigating these claims and not to compensating the victims. If that is so, there is about £40 million to offset against the addition of no-fault claims to the present third party claims if that expensive investigation were obviated.

The only way to operate a scheme such as this is to bring it within the compulsory insurance system which we all know so well in connection with third party insurance, and by Clause 2 of the Bill it would be made obligatory to include this new liability of the user of the car within the present compulsory insurance cover.

When I have put this proposition to people over the past two months, I have been amazed to find how many in this country are unaware that there are provisions for no-fault insurance—no-fault motor users' liability—in most industrial countries in the world, and that now we are becoming almost the odd man out. Roughly speaking, these compulsory schemes throughout the world are divided into two categories, commonly known as the European system and the American system. The European system is enshrined in the European Convention on Civil Liability for Damage caused by Motor Vehicles—to be found in the European Treaties series No. 79. That Convention has been in existence since 1970. It makes the keeper of a vehicle on the road strictly liable for damage that it causes. I prefer to say the user of the vehicle rather than the keeper of the vehicle, because we know that phrase "the user of the vehicle" so well in our law relating to third party insurance.

It is true that on that Convention there are the signatures of only three States, West Germany, Norway and Switzerland, which have formally ratified it, but many other European countries have systems which conform to the Convention.

The Convention treats the motor car owner rather in the way that in this country we treat the owner of a wild animal, the owner of land on which there is a reservoir, or the person who walks down the High Street with a loaded firearm. In each case they are strictly liable and negligence does not have to be proved against them in order to recover damages for any injuries that their acts may cause. The victim is entitled in those cases to claim damages, to claim compensation, and the burden of proof is reversed.

It is true that in the European Convention, if the victim by his fault contributed to the accident, he will not be able to recover his full compensation. Also, the keeper of the motor vehicle, as he is there expressed, can avoid liability if a third party has intervened and caused the accident. That system retains the disadvantage that there still needs to be investigation, and perhaps litigation, of many of the claims. It therefore loses the savings gained by obviating that investigation, which I would hope to do if the terms of my Bill were accepted.

Although only three European countries have ratified the Convention, many of them already have a much stricter system of liability than is set out in the Convention itself. The Scandinavian countries, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy have systems more akin to that which I have embodied in the Bill. West Germany, in particular, is almost in line with the provisions of the Bill, and so is Spain. On the other side of the curtain, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union also have a system of strict liability. So much for the European system.

The American system applies in a large number of Provinces in Canada and States in America. It is a system of absolute liability up to certain limits, and thereafter the victim can pursue his civil remedies through the courts on an ordinary claim for damages. It sets certain limits to economic loss and certain other limits to non-economic loss.

New Zealand has recently brought in a very comprehensive system of no-fault insurance, of no-fault liability, for accidents on the road, and that system goes a little beyond the American system. Australia is about to follow the example of New Zealand.

Although the American system meets some of the objectives of the system, which I hope I have put quite simply in the Bill, it does not go all the way. It provides quick settlement of claims, and thereby relieves the very considerable hardship which many victims face of waiting months, and even years, for compensation—if they get it at all. But the American system still retains in too many cases the element of litigation.

I mentioned that the American system limits the damages in many cases. Therefore, how far does the no-fault system —whether it is the American system, the European system, or my own system, if I may so describe it, in the Bill—meet all kinds of damages?

To start with, I exclude from the Bill any damage to property. I am concerned with human suffering in these cases and to compensate for that quickly. In connection with human suffering from bodily injury, there are perhaps three kinds of damages. There are special damages— the actual costs incurred in recovery from or treatment of those injuries. Secondly, there is the economic damage or what we know better in this country as loss of earnings. Thirdly, there is the non-economic loss—the general damages of pain and suffering, temporary incapacity, permanent disability, loss of a limb or, indeed, loss of life. It is not possible in any scheme of this sort to put a limit on those several heads of damages and thereby relieve the real hardship of the victims and yet limit the full claims.

On general damages, we could for example put the sort of limits which are to be seen on those insurance policies obtained out of a slot machine at an airport—in other words, £1,000 for a hand, £5,000 for a limb, so much for an eye, and so on. In some of the American schemes, those sorts of limits are imposed so that payment of those sums can be made quickly and the victim, if he sees fit, can go further and claim the rest of his damages in court. We could adopt the same sort of limits in respect of loss of earnings. We could base that very much on the social services limits for disability. If it were shown that unlimited claims would push up the premiums too high—and I am convinced that that would not be the case because of the savings made by not having to investigate claims—we would have to put on those limits. However, I prefer to leave the proposals, as I have them, similar to our well-tried third party insurance in respect of which we have had to place no damages limits.

If the House accepts this Bill there will be many refinements made to it in Committee. Perhaps the art of presenting a Private Member's Bill is to make it short and sweet so that the House discusses the principle. In Committee, of course, there could be refinements made to the two clauses of substance in the Bill, or we might perhaps insert the power for the Secretary of State to enlarge upon it by Order. But, because we are lagging so far behind other countries, I consider it essential that Parliament should, by means of the normal procedures of a Standing Committee and a Report stage on the Floor of the House, examine these proposals quickly.

I am well aware that they are the subject of examination elsewhere. They are being examined by a Royal Commission which is looking into the whole question of civil liability and compensation and merely incidentally into civil liability and compensation in the case of road accidents. We could hive off road accidents entirely from that general discussion and deal with them before more and more victims suffer. That Royal Commission was set up by the previous Conservative Government as long ago as December 1972, under Lord Pearson. But I rather despair of seeing any report from it within a reasonable time. After all, 1972 is a long time ago, and the matter has become more and more urgent with the introduction of no-fault insurance in the older countries of the Commonwealth, in the American States and the Canadian Provinces and particularly in the European Convention.

I beg the House now to get on with the job of relieving the hardship, the suffering, the uncompensated injuries and the tragedies of such cases as that of the Loach family and all these sufferings which, while the Royal Commission is pursuing its apparently rather leisurely course, are multiplying daily and bringing misery to the lives of so many people.

3.25 p.m.

Mr. David Weitzman (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington)

Like the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) I declare an interest. In my long years at the Bar, I have dealt with many hundreds of running-down cases. I echo a good deal of what the right hon. Gentleman has said.

The right hon. Gentleman is to be commended for bringing forward this measure, if only for the purpose of discussion and to invite public attention. My only regret is that a Bill of this kind is being discussed in a short time on a Friday afternoon with so few hon. Members present to air their views.

In these days of terrible carnage on our roads the question of compensation is of enormous importance not only to the victim who is badly injured, but to the widows and children who are deprived of their material support. In many cases, of course, damages awarded can never be adequate for the loss suffered. Often there are long-drawn-out legal proceedings and the difficulty of proving by evidence negligence on the part of the offender, which is the only way one can recover damages.

I am glad to have the opportunity—I have done this before—to draw attention to the case of a constituent of the Chief Whip, a young man called Michael Davis. He is aged 22 and is married with one child. Mr. Davis was a passenger in a car involved in an accident on a date before the insurance of passengers became compulsory. He suffered terrible injuries and is now permanently incapacitated.

He was awarded £22,000 damages against the driver, but, because the driver had no means and had made default in complying with the conditions of his insurance policy, his insurance was invalidated. The driver had little money and so poor Mr. Davis has not received one penny piece. Even in his attempt to contest the insurance company's decision that the driver was not entitled to his insurance, Mr. Davis did not even receive the assistance of legal aid. Terrible cases of that kind make one think that something must be done to remedy the position.

The idea of no-fault insurance is attractive, but we must be realistic. We cannot adopt a measure of this kind without appreciating the difficulties that it might involve. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned cost. No amount can be given, nor could it be given. In these days, with inflation and a tremendous increase in the amount of damages awarded, premiums naturally go up. What would they be if this measure became law? How could damages otherwise be financed? How could the sums awarded be paid for, especially in our present economic conditions?

Mr. Graham Page

When the State of Massachusetts set up a no-fault insurance system such as that put forward in the Bill, the premiums were halved. I do not say that we could do quite as well here, but that is a case in point.

Mr. Weitzman

I realise that the right hon. Gentleman has put forward that view because he mentioned it in his opening speech, but it is a difficult question to answer. I merely draw attention to vital facts, such as inflation, which affect the matter. In my view premiums would have to go up considerably. At any rate, this matter requires very careful and detailed consideration.

The Bill, drawn very simply and straightforwardly by the right hon. Gentleman, imposes liability on persons using, causing or permitting others to use motor vehicles without fault. That raises a host of difficulties in interpreting Clause 1.

What about contributory negligence when someone else is to some degree at fault? No apportionment is set out in the Bill. Let us suppose that two vehicles collide as the result of the fault of one or other to some degree. What about the case of a person throwing a stone, shattering the windscreen, and causing the driver to lose control? Is the person who owns the car which causes the accident to be fully responsible? What about a defect in the road which contributes to an accident? What about the person who walks into a vehicle, giving the driver no chance whatever of avoiding him? What about negligence on the part of a garage in servicing a vehicle which in some way contributes to an accident?

The right hon. Gentleman may say that these matters can be dealt with in Committee. I doubt that. The issues are too complex.

Is the provision in Clause 1 fair? If I lend my car to a person who causes an accident by his negligence, why should I be liable? Is the employer to be liable for an employee who, in the course of a joyride, causes an accident? In my view, it would be wrong to pre-empt the decision by passing the Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Royal Commission appointed by the Conservative Government in December 1972 to review our system of compensation for person injuries. That includes the objects of the Bill. I understand that the Commission has examined the no-fault systems in other countries to which the right hon. Gentleman properly referred. It has no doubt studied the question of cost, fairness and, in particular, the way in which difficult cases of the kind to which I have referred can be dealt with. We await that report with interest.

I agree that the present position is unsatisfactory and any recommendation which can help to remedy it will be welcomed. I heartily congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on introducing the Bill and on the excellent speech that he made in its favour. He will have the satisfaction of knowing that he has drawn attention to a vital problem. However, I am sure that he will recognise that it is better to await the report of the Royal Commission which has spent some years considering all aspects of this matter.

3.33 p.m.

Mr. Ted Graham (Edmonton)

I am grateful for the opportunity of intervening in this debate. Unhappily, I do not have the experience of the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) or of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Mr. Weitzman), not only as Members of this House, but in another place where they have undoubtedly come face to face with certain aspects which are set out in the Bill.

I should like to touch upon a number of general considerations—first, the Loach family. No one who heard the right hon. Gentleman today could be other than impressed by the solemnity with which he presented the details of that case and could not fail to understand the aggravation and grievance felt by that family. What he was saying in effect was that the Bill is a cry of impatience about what had been promised in proposed legislation by the then Prime Minister in 1972. It was recognised then that there was a need to resolve the situation with which the Bill is concerned. However, the Government were, rightly, against piecemeal reform. Since I became a Member, I have learned that, whatever one does, there are always other matters which need to be dealt with. One is always fearful of creating precedents.

There is a wide range of ways in which people may be the innocent victims of accidents. The terms of reference of the Royal Commission on Civil Liability and Compensation for Personal Injury which was established in 1973 are most interesting. They are: To consider to what extent in what circumstances and by what means compensation should be payable in respect of death or personal injury (including ante-natal injury) suffered by any person—

  1. (a) in the couse of employment;
  2. (b) through the use of a motor-vehicle or other means of transport"
—that is the aspect with which we are dealing today—
  1. "(c) through the manufacture, supply or use of goods or services."
Recently the Department of Prices and Consumer Protection issued information on accidents in the home. It is sobering and revealing to realise the extent to which people can be affected by the mismanagement, mismanufacture, or defectiveness of goods, resulting sometimes from carelessness, and sometimes bordering on the criminal.

In the past 12 months accident and emergency departments in hospitals reported a variety of horrific accidents in the home. For example, 535 accidents were caused by defective furniture or floor covering. The cost of the remedial medical supplies for those accidents ran into many thousands of pounds. There were 238 accidents caused by tins and tin openers, and 132 accidents involving ladders and step ladders. There were 86 accidents resulting from toys. We know of the tragedy which occurs from time to time when a child inadvertently pulls out the glass eye of a toy on the end of a piece of wire and finds that she has not merely a broken toy but a deadly weapon. The cord of a windcheater, if it is not of the correct length and correct strength, can be a deadly weapon.

Last year there were 51 accidents resulting from the use of frying pans and chip pans; 27 accidents involving perambulators and push chairs; 31 accidents involving lawn mowers; 15 accidents with paint; 11 accidents resulting from the use of hot water bottles; and five accidents involving paraffin heaters. The report also reveals that 210 accidents happen to children aged between one and two and 136 to children between two and three. These were accidents in the home, of course, which are not perhaps as bad or as numerous as those on the road, but when one is legislating for the responsibility in tort of individuals, one should be as comprehensive as possible.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Meyer Galpern)z

The hon. Member made one omission from his comprehensive list. I do not think that he mentioned the possibility of an accident to the occupant of the Chair in the House of Commons.

Mr. Graham

You are absolutely right, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall see whether I can get a Co-operative Insurance Society salesman to cover you against that liability.

I recently served on the Committee considering the Policyholders Protection Bill, under which the innocent had to pay for the potentially reckless or feckless activity of others. There are limits to the extent to which one should legislate and then pass on the cost to those who will not be making insurance claims.

The sense of the Bill is first-class. It is timely and necessary. However, the right hon. Gentleman has been able to wait, patiently and now impatiently, for three or four years. I hope that the Royal Commission will report on this aspect of its remit and that many of the Bill's aspirations will find their way into its recommendations.

3.42 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Law Officers' Department (Mr. Arthur Davidson)

First, I should like to congratulate the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) on introducing the Bill in a speech which was short if not entirely sweet. But he was fair and is to be complimented on putting into the area of debate once again the methods by which the courts assess compensation for personal injuries.

Over the years, this subject has caused and, whatever method is substituted, will, I fear, continue to cause dissatisfaction and frequently heartbreak among those unfortunate enough to have to litigate, and among the public at large. Even those who are awarded substantial damages frequently have the satisfaction of winning tempered by the length and complexity of the proceedings involved in getting a case to court and in court itself.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned particularly the tragic Loach case. We can all fist cases in which the courts would dearly have liked to award damages, where all the emotional arguments were on the side of the plaintiff but were regrettably defeated by the requirement to prove negligence. Equally, we can all think of cases where the plaintiff, with what he may have regarded as a proper case, has had to give up because of the sort of frustrations to which the right hon. Member for Crosby referred in the case of the Loach family.

The Bill also focuses attention on one of the significant and regrettably ever-present social problems—namely, road accidents. This is a subject to which Parliament and the public rightly devote considerable attention. We are all aware of the great interest that was shown by the newspapers, the public and hon. Members in the recent debate on seat belts. I have received substantial correspondence on the subject, as I am sure all hon. Members have.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned some figures illustrating the number of road accidents. I will give him the figures for 1974, which are the latest statistics. They reveal that 6,876 people were killed, 82,030 were seriously injured and 235,696 were slightly injured in road accidents in Great Britain. It is a tragedy and an unnecessary waste of life, particularly as so many of the victims were young people.

The casualty figures and accident rates have, I am happy to say, shown a welcome reduction in recent years, thanks to the efforts of successive Ministers for Transport. However, it cannot all be left to Government, and every road user, whether he be pedestrian, cyclist, motor cyclist, or driver, has an important part to play in reducing the waste resulting from unnecessary and tragic road accidents.

I accept that the Bill is not about road safety as such, though the right hon. Gentleman referred to the accident rate and over the years has shown an interest in that subject. The Bill is about an important aspect of road accidents, because although nothing can compensate or come anywhere near to compensating for the loss of a wife, husband, child, or relative, in a road accident, society has a duty to consider what can be done to alleviate the effects of these tragedies. The law should act so as to give adequate compensation as speedily as possible. The right hon. Gentleman has done a service in bringing this problem to the attention of the House.

The right hon. Gentleman referred, as did my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Mr. Weitzman), and my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Graham), to the Royal Commission on Civil Liability and Compensation for Personal Injury. That was set up in December 1972 by the then Prime Minister. It is fair to point out that the right hon. Gentleman was then a member of that Administration. Everyone agreed —it was certainly the view of the then Opposition—that this was the correct thing to do. The Royal Commission was set up under the chairmanship of Lord Pearson and commenced work in 1973.

My hon. Friend referred to its terms of reference, but I think that I ought to do so again because the right hon. Gentleman stated that road accident compensation was rather a fringe matter to be considered by the Commission. That is just not so. It is very central to the Commission's consideration, because its terms of reference are as follows: To consider to what extent, in what circumstances and by what means compensation should be payable in respect of death or personal injury (including ante-natal injury) suffered by any person—

  1. (a) in the course of employment;
  2. (b) through the use of a motor-vehicle or other means of transport;"—
so there is a specific reference to injury caused by the use of a motor vehicle—
  1. "(c) through the manufacture, supply or use of goods or services;
  2. (d) on premises belonging to or occupied by another; or
  3. 896
  4. (e) otherwise through the act or omission of another where compensation under the present law is recoverable only on proof of fault or under the rules of strict liability,
having regard to the cost and other implications of the arrangements for the recovery of compensation, whether by way of compulsory insurance or otherwise. Therefore, the question of compensation for victims of road accidents is specifically mentioned in item (b) of the terms of reference. I am happy to tell the right hon. Gentleman that the Royal Commission, recognising the importance of road and work accidents, decided to concentrate initially on these two categories, because quite clearly they are the two areas which give most concern and which cause most accidents.

The Commission began by issuing a circular explaining what "liability for fault" and what "liability without fault" were, and in relation to road transport injuries, by asking a whole series of questions about the nature and incidence of a possible no-fault system. The circular was widely distributed and, in response, a large amount of written evidence was received and oral evidence taken.

This evidence came from the legal and medical professions, the insurance industry, employers, trade unions, Government Departments and local authorities, and a wide variety of organisations and individuals reflecting the interests of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians as well as the interests of persons who had themselves suffered injury by a motor vehicle. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman can be assured that the Royal Commission is doing and has done its work most thoroughly.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the no-fault system in the United States. I can tell him that the Royal Commission visited the United States, where 24 States, as I understand it, are operating no-fault schemes of one kind or another, to see examples of these schemes in operation in several of the States and to discuss their pros and cons with a variety of interests in those States and in the Federal capital. The Commission also visited a number of European countries, as well as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, to see and discuss their existing compensation schemes and particularly any no-fault schemes in operation or which may be under consideration. In the process, a great deal of information and numerous views have been collected.

The Commission also had to bear in mind the requirement in the terms of reference to have regard to costs and other implications. As a result of the Commission's inquiries, the best possible statistics are being compiled. The Commision is now digesting and appraising what it has gathered and is formulating recommendations which should be available early next year when it is hoped to present a report covering the whole of the terms of reference.

I am sure that the House would agree that, desirable as the right hon. Gentleman's objectives are—no one would dissent from the desirability of those objectives—a premature decision to reform the law in the important but complex field of compensation for road accidents in isolation from the remainder of the terms of reference would inevitably preempt the Royal Commission's recommendations and hamper the consideration and implementation of its report.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington, who is very experienced in these matters, drew attention to some of the complications that could arise from a no-fault law on the terms set out in the Bill. Any compensation system—and certainly one for road accidents—has to be considered in terms of fairness, cost and its effect on accident prevention measures.

Nobody would dispute the argument that the present system, based on fault and the need to establish negligence, is unfair because of the difficulties in proving or apportioning blame. The result is that some people get compensation while others, whose injuries may be even more severe, whose futures may be even more grim and who, in every respect, are equally, if not more, deserving, do not get compensation. This is bound to lead to dissatisfaction and a sense of grievance, but it does not necessarily follow that abandoning the fault system for the principle embodied in the Bill would remove all unfairnesses, or not create diffierent ones.

The cost of a change to the system proposed in the Bill would need careful study. Despite what the right hon. Member for Crosby said, no realistic estimate of the cost can be made at short notice. However well-disposed the Government may be to the Bill's intentions, we could not recommend that the House should proceed with such a measure in the absence of adequate information on cost, and the right hon. Gentleman must acknowledge that the greater the injustice of the present system—and there is injustice—the greater will be the cost of remedying it.

To argue that costs would not be greatly affected is to say that no additional compensation of any significance would be payable under the Bill. If that is the case, what would be the value of the Bill? What case is there for putting road accident victims in a more favourable position than the victims of other accidents before the Royal Commission has reported? Why should the recommendations of the Royal Commission be pre-empted only for road accident victims and not for, say, the victims of insidious industrial diseases, incidents of which are constantly raised in this House?

It is open to question, and it would be the subject of debate how far financial considerations affect drivers' behaviour. It may be true that a driver thinks more of his own safety or of avoiding damage to his car than of the financial consequences of an accident——

It being Four o'clock, the debates stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Friday 14th May.