In our previous alert “Rolling back Vnuk: The UK lags behind” we commented on the lack of formal government action and the progress of the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Bill (“the Bill”), the Private Member’s Bill introduced by Peter Bone MP.
Despite the usual odds of any Private Member’s Bill reaching the statute books being even lower than those of England winning an Ashes series in Australia, it is now looking more likely that this Bill will go the distance.
On the 5th January, the Bill negotiated its Committee stage with ease with a short debate following which, without amendment or objection, it was approved.
The next step in the legislative process for the Bill is the Report stage which provides an opportunity for the whole House of Commons to discuss and amend the Bill. There is no set period between the end of Committee stage and the start of Report stage and accordingly no definitive timescale can be put around it but, particularly given the absence of any Government activity on this issue, the Bill is slowly but surely making its way towards the statute books. With the Report stage usually followed immediately on the same day by debate on the Bill's Third reading, completion of all stages in the Commons may be rapid – although the Bill then still has to negotiate the same stages in the House of Lords.
Given that the Bill as it currently stands provides for it to come into force two months after it is passed, it is even conceivable that it could be in force later this year.
Those with an interest in seeing Vnuk being rolled back, such as the insurance industry, will be hoping that the Bill becomes law as soon as possible. There is no other obvious “vehicle” by which the Government’s stated intentions could be achieved.
As previously reported, the effect of this Bill would be to set the UK on a divergent path from the EU. Whilst the EU is tinkering with the way in which Vnuk extends the scope of compulsory insurance to use of road-going vehicles on private land, the UK may be about to reinforce the existing limits of the Road Traffic Act - use only on a road or in a public place.