§ Mr. Stevens
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he proposes to make any changes to the casualty values used in transport appraisals.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
In the light of the recommendations of the report of the interdepartmental review of road 113W safety we have carried out a comprehensive review of the available research evidence on the valuation of fatal casualties. Following this review we now propose to increase significantly the value to be attached to a fatal road accident casualty, from the present level of £283,000 to £500,000. This new figure would be adopted by the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland offices in addition to the Department of Transport. A consultation paper dealing with this—"Valuation of Road Accident Fatalities" has been published today. A copy has been placed in the Library.
Last year, values for casualties were increased as an interim measure in line with the increase in the value of time savings. At the time of that announcement we made it clear that the basis of valuation would be kept under review. Research into what people are willing to pay to reduce accident risks both in the United Kingdom and the United States of America yielded a wide range of values. Although the available evidence does not point unequivocally to any single valuation and a considerable element of judgment seems unavoidable, the Government believe a significantly higher value for a fatal casualty is justified, and considers that the figure proposed should command widespread support. Because of the importance of minimising uncertainty on road improvement schemes already at public inquiry or awaiting a final decision from the appropriate Secretary of State a final decision on the new value needs to be reached quickly. We have therefore sought views from those directly concerned by mid-August. We shall also give careful consideration to any other views we receive. Current values of accident costs will continue to be used until there is a further announcement.
An increased value for fatality costs should increase the emphasis on safety in road schemes, particularly the smaller schemes which can often do so much to reduce casualties. The proposed change underlines our continuing commitment to make our roads safer for everyone.