Insurance legislation: Key influencers
If it provides a definitive result (and it’s a big if at this stage), the General Election on 12th December will result in politics getting back to something close to normal towards the end of 2019 and into 2020.
In practical terms, this means the Houses of Parliament having time to pass laws on domestic matters of importance to the UK. However, influence on what these laws should be comes from a number of different sources:
Prime Minister and Cabinet
If the General Election gives any one political party a majority within the House of Commons (something that we’ve only seen for two years this decade), they can reasonably expect to be able to pass the legislative programme that they advertised during the election campaign, unless these policies are so controversial that members of their own party rebel.
Every government decides precisely which policies to pursue differently, but after an election it is often the Prime Minister, their key advisors, and the cabinet team that helped them win the job of Prime Minister which together would be primarily responsible for bringing forward legislation.
When it comes to whiplash reform, the Leader of the House of Commons (another Cabinet role) takes on added importance, as they are responsible for the order paper in the House of Commons, deciding upon what the Parliament will debate on any given day. This makes that role vitally important for bringing forward Parliamentary time to pass the Statutory Instruments and other Secondary Legislation required to implement the whiplash reforms.
Ministers working across government departments also have an important role to play, and the insurance industry has an almost uniquely broad base of Minister and government departments influencing the legislation that will affect it.
Whilst oversight and regulation of the industry as a whole is held within HM Treasury – in the office of the Economic Secretary to the Treasury - responsibility for civil justice reform is held by the Ministry of Justice, whilst road safety and legislation connected to it is overseen by the Department for Transport.
Add to that the fact that insurers also work with key players within the Department for Health and Social Care and Ministry of Defence and it’s clear that direct influence on insurance legislation is spread thinly.
Even though they don’t (by definition) make up the government, opposition parties in the House of Commons can still affect insurance legislation. Although the parliamentary methods to do this may be fairly narrow, opposition parties frequently put pressure on the government to adopt certain policies. Political parties are also notorious for stealing the policies their rivals come up with that are popular with the public, so there’s certainly scope for legislation that was designed by opposition parties to end up being adopted by the government if publicised broadly enough.
Next week, we analyse where the balance of power and influence lies outside of the frontbenches, with a look at select committees and All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs).