Proposed Health and Safety offences bill
The proposed Health and Safety (Offences) bill which is detailed below has still to complete its second reading after it was adjourned for a second time until June 20th due to a lack of Parliamentary time. The bill still has the full support of the Government.
Meanwhile in the House of Lords Labour Peer Lord Faulkner of Worcester questioned the Government on whether it still intends to introduce legislation on corporate killing which is mentioned elsewhere on this site. Replying on behalf of the Government Lord Bassam of Brighton reaffirmed its commitment to bringing in a new offence of corporate killing. He added that the Government was carrying out a regulatory impact assessment on the proposed legislation and would introduce a draft bill when time allows
The promised new bill, "Revitalising Health and Safety", originally outlined by the Government in December 2000 appears to have been quietly dropped and was not mentioned in the last Queen's speech. To replace this, there is a prospect of higher fines for breaches of Health and Safety legislation thanks to a ten minute rule bill introduced before the House of Commons on January 7th 2003 by Lawrie Quinn who is the Labour MP for Scarborough and Whitby.
The bill sets out a series of proposals designed to crack down on companies and individuals who fail to comply with their duties under the legislation. The new bill is called "The Health and Safety (Offences) Bill" and if adopted would provide for the following:
- Extend the maximum statutory £20,000 fine available in the lower courts to a much wider range of offences that currently attract a maximum fine of only £5,000
- Make imprisonment more widely available for most Health and Safety offences
- Increase the fine for not having a valid employers' liability insurance policy to £20,000
The proposed legislation is due to receive a second reading in the House at any time and Mr. Quinn said "The reason for proposing these changes is the prevailing concern, shared by the TUC and the Insurance Industry, that Health and Safety offences are treated less seriously than they ought to be by employers and the courts - and ultimately by the wider public". He added "The measures on imprisonment would bring Health and Safety law more into line with modern legislation such as environment and food safety laws".
Whilst the original "Revitalising Health and Safety" bill has possibly been dropped, the Government does still intend to introduce measures through a series of individual changes to the law. We will update this page as and when we get more information so please bookmark it for your future reference.