Posted by

Amy Hazlewood, Parliamentary Engagement Assistant

15 Apr 2013

This Bill introduces measures aiming to:

  • Legislate for the establishment of the UK Green Investment Bank, and ensure its independence;
  • Make changes to the employment tribunal process and to promote settlement agreements;
  • Establish and make provisions about the Competition and Markets Authority and to abolish the Competition Commission and the
  • Office of Fair Trading;
  • Reduction legislative burdens, and;
  • Strengthen the framework for setting directors’ pay by introducing binding votes.

The main purpose of the Bill is to encourage long-term growth and simplify regulation by strengthening the business environment, reducing regulatory burdens and improving business and consumer confidence. It also includes provisions to reduce inspection burdens on business, strengthen the legal framework for sunset clauses and to repeal legislation.

Since entering the House of Lords on 18th October, much debate has centred on health and safety regulations regarding clause 62.  Broadly this clause redresses the employer’s civil liability in cases when an employer has done everything in its power to avoid accident or injury.  The inclusion of this clause stems from Professor Löfstedt’s independent review of health and safety in 2011. This identified the potential unfairness that arises where health and safety regulations impose a strict liability on employers, and recommended that these regulatory provisions should be reviewed. In response the government agreed to look at ways to redress the balance, in particular by preventing civil liability from attaching to a breach of such provisions.

The debate on clause 62 came to a head on 6th March when an amendment to the Bill effectively removed this proposal from the legislation. The amendment narrowly won the vote resulting in a government defeat.  The government may attempt to restore clause 62 to its original form which would lead to a 'ping pong' between the two Houses until an agreed decision can be made.

Business will be disappointed that the removal of the strict liability currently attached to certain health and safety regulations has been delayed. The threat of being found liable for a health and safety claim is undoubtedly a deterrent to business growth. We urge Parliament to pass this important proposal as soon as possible.