The report, published 15 October 2010, discusses health and safety laws and the growth of the compensation culture. Lord Young of Graffham (Conservative), who led the independent review, opened the debate.
Declaring an interest as a practising barrister who ‘has spent the past quarter of a century defending increasingly imaginative claims brought against public authorities,’ Lord Faulks said compensation culture was a subject with which he had some familiarity. He also referred to his experience of an inquiry as special adviser to the Department for Constitutional Affairs on the compensation culture in 2005 and 2006, which concluded the compensation culture was perceived rather than a truth, but that ‘whether based on hard facts or on perception, remains an important issue, with its stultifying effect on so much that is good about our society.’
Lord Faulks welcomed the report ‘full as it is of eponymous common sense’ and commended its broad-ranging implementation strategy: ‘The report recognises the tawdry and unedifying aspects of personal injury litigation that have developed—the crude advertising, referral fees and the fact that too often claims become about costs rather than the merits of the case. All these are an embarrassment to most lawyers, and I welcome the suggestions in the report that should reduce, or indeed eliminate, many of the more unattractive features of the compensation landscape.’ There is clear policy in addition to a broad aspiration, he said.
In closing, Lord Faulks spoke of his hope that, as a result of the steps envisaged in the report, the reputation of lawyers who act for claimants in this field – stereotyped as ‘ambulance chasers’, would be restored.
Biography: Lord Faulks
Other Members who spoke in the debate included:
- Lord Bhattacharyya (Labour), Professor of manufacturing and director of Warwick Manufacturing Group, which provides training in engineering, programme management and logistics
- Lord Brougham and Vaux (Conservative), president of the National Health Safety Groups Council and honorary vice-president of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
- Baroness Turner of Camden (Labour), former assistant general secretary to the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs
- Lord Taverne (Liberal Democrat), chair of the monitoring board for Axa Sun Life plc
- Lord McKenzie of Luton (Labour), a former government spokesperson for Trade and Industry
- Lord Smith of Finsbury (Non-affiliated), sponsor of the Environment and Safety Information Act 1988
- Lord Skelmersdale (Conservative), former Opposition spokesperson for Trade and Industry
- Baroness Donaghy (Labour), is former chair of the Department of Work and Pensions Inquiry into Fatal Construction Accidents 2009
Lord Hunt of Wirral, Lord Black of Brentwood, Lord German, Lord Ramsbotham, Baroness Thomas of Winchester, Lord Philips of Sudbury, Viscount Younger of Leckie, Lord Vinson, Lord Monson, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, Lord Haskel, Lord Rooker, Lord Jordan and Lord Sugar also spoke.
Lord Freud responded on behalf of the government.
The term ‘maiden speech’ refers to the first time a new Member gives a speech in the House of the Lords. A maiden speech usually takes place during a general debate and is uncontroversial.