Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill — Clause 61 — Employer Liability for Breaches of Health and Safety Regulations — 16 Apr 2013 at 17:15

The majority of MPs voted to make employers only liable for negligent breaches of health and safety regulations rather than all breaches of health and safety regulations.

MPs were considering the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill[1]. The motion approved in this vote was:

  • That this House disagrees with Lords amendment 38.

Lords amendment[2][3] 38 stated:

  • Page 58, line 25, leave out subsection (3)

This refers to Clause 61 subsection (3) of the Bill[4][5] which replaced Section 47(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 which stated:

  • Breach of a duty imposed by health and safety regulations F1. . . shall, so far as it causes damage, be actionable except in so far as the regulations provide otherwise.

The subsection (3) which the Lords amendment sought to leave out would have reverse the principle, so that:

  • Breach of a duty imposed by a statutory instrument containing

(whether alone or with other provision) health and safety regulations

shall not be actionable except to the extent that regulations under this

section so provide.

and goes on to specify in more details what the regulations may provide for. The explanatory notes to the Bill[6] describe this proposed change as follows:

  • Clause 61 amends the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in order to provide that there should be no civil right of action for breach of a duty imposed by certain health and safety legislation, other than where such a right is specifically provided for.

The reasoning for the change is given in the explanatory notes[6] as:

  • Professor Löfstedt’s review Reclaiming health and safety for all: An independent review of health and legislation (November 2011) identified the potential unfairness that arises where health and safety at work regulations impose a strict liability on employers, making them legally responsible to pay compensation despite having done all that was reasonable to protect their employees. Professor Löfstedt recommended that regulatory provisions which impose strict liability should be reviewed. In its response to the review the Government recognised this unfairness and agreed to look at ways to redress the balance, in particular by preventing civil liability from attaching to a breach of such provisions.
  • The amendment to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 ("HSWA 1974") reverses the present position on civil liability, with the effect, unless any exceptions apply, that it will only be possible to claim for compensation in relation to breaches of affected health and safety legislation where it can be proved that the duty holder (usually the employer) has been negligent. This means that in future, for all relevant claims, duty-holders will only have to defend themselves against negligence.


Debate in Parliament | Source |

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (Aye)Minority (No)BothTurnout
Alliance0 10100.0%
Con268 (+2 tell) 0088.5%
DUP0 7087.5%
Green0 10100.0%
Independent0 10100.0%
Lab0 219 (+2 tell)086.0%
LDem48 1086.0%
PC0 30100.0%
SDLP0 2066.7%
SNP0 60100.0%
Total:316 241087.4%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

Sort by: Name | Constituency | Party | Vote

John HemmingBirmingham, YardleyLDem (front bench)no

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