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Legal Advice: Workplace Injuries

Volume 651: debated on Tuesday 18 December 2018

1. What steps the Government are taking to ensure that workers can access legal advice on workplace injuries. (908244)

4. What steps the Government are taking to ensure that workers can access legal advice on workplace injuries. [R] (908248)

I believe that the hon. Gentleman is referring to our proposal to raise the small claims limit for employees’ personal injury claims to £2,000. That change is not only in line with inflation, but will give those affected the opportunity to be heard in an uncomplicated, accessible court, without the need for a lawyer if they so choose.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Could she inform the House why the Government are avoiding full parliamentary scrutiny by putting the most damaging part of the Civil Liability Bill, which raises the small claims limit, in a statutory instrument, rather than on the face of the Bill, where it could be properly scrutinised by the House?

The Ministry of Justice always ensures that it brings measures to the House in a way that is appropriate for them. Of course this measure will have scrutiny; statutory instrument procedure involves the scrutiny of the House. This measure will ensure that people can access the courts in an accessible way, without the need to spend excessive amounts of money.

I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. I listened carefully to what the Minister just said, but what guarantee can she give us that the civil procedure rule committee will be able to consider the proposed small claims increase, which covers workplace injuries, independent of Government? Why can we not debate the measure on the Floor of the House?

As we see from the questions raised today, there is an opportunity for Members to make points they wish to make. Our Department is always listening, and there will be scrutiny through the statutory instrument procedure in due course.

Every time I am foolish enough to turn on the television, there are adverts from lawyers offering free advice on workplace injuries. Surely we cannot be in want of any more such advice.

My right hon. Friend makes an important point. We are here to serve the people, and we are here to serve people who have claims. People can still bring their claims through a very simple process in our courts. I should also mention that the Ministry of Justice has brought forward and is progressing an online system for money claims, which is achieving a great deal of satisfaction among users.

The Government have rightly exempted vulnerable road users from the proposed changes. However, two colleagues—say, two paramedics or two police officers—who are both injured at work on the roads could be treated quite differently, with one able to get legal advice and pay no cost to get compensation, and one having to fight insurers on their own, simply because one was injured on a motorbike and the other in an ambulance or squad car. Rather than hold working people to different standards, can the Government exempt all people injured in the course of their work?

We are concerned about the injury that is suffered, not the person’s profession. As I said, this measure will help people to access courts. The small claims limit for other money claims is £10,000, not £2,000, and people will still be able to get justice.