Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Bill — 21 Jan 1999

Order for Third Reading read.

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

Today and in Committee we have had the opportunity to look carefully at the Bill and its purpose. We are trying to streamline, improve and manage more effectively the existing scheme for recovering the cost to the national health service of treating road traffic accident victims. We are determined to do that for a number of reasons that we have repeatedly spelt out during proceedings on the Bill.

The NHS needs the extra resources that the scheme will provide, and the Bill is badly needed. It will free hospital staff from the burden of questioning patients when the care and treatment of those patients should be uppermost in everyone's mind. Patients will no longer be confused or worried about a scheme that does not affect them directly.

It is worth emphasising that since the 1930s the insurance industry has had the primary obligation to meet the costs of treating road traffic accident victims. We want there to be no misunderstanding about the Bill.

The scheme will raise a good deal of money for the NHS, not, as some hon. Members wanted, going to another tier of NHS administration--an outcome that the Liberal Democrats tried to secure in Committee--but going directly to hospitals, where it can be used to the immediate benefit of patients. In the overall scale of NHS finance, the amounts may not be great, but they are substantial injections to the budgets of the hospitals that stand to receive them and the sooner the Bill is enacted, the sooner the benefits will be received.

A number of specific concerns have been raised and it would be helpful if I took the opportunity to set the record straight. We reject the accusation that we are imposing a

21 Jan 1999 : Column 1068

new tax or a new charge. It is vital to remember that NHS charges can be recovered only when it has been recognised that the patient has a claim against another person in respect of his or her injuries. In such cases, insurers have always known that the victim is entitled to use and claim for private sector treatment if he or she so wishes. The insurer has no choice but to pay. However, insurers have largely escaped paying equivalent NHS charges simply because of the lack of a system for their recovery. The Bill will fundamentally address that by putting into place a new, effective, streamlined costs recovery system.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:--

The House divided: Ayes 228, Noes 24.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (Aye)Minority (No)BothTurnout
Con0 000.0%
Lab228 (+2 tell) 0055.2%
LDem0 23 (+2 tell)054.3%
SNP0 1016.7%
Total:228 24040.6%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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no rebellions

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