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Businesses (Health and Safety)

Volume 513: debated on Thursday 8 July 2010

17. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on health and safety regulations affecting businesses. (6697)

No discussions have as yet taken place between Ministers and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in relation to health and safety regulations affecting businesses. However, Ministers met Lord Young of Graffham on 1 July. Lord Young is leading the Government’s review of health and safety laws and regulation, their implementation, the compensation culture and the associated litigation process.

I hope that the Minister’s bosses in the House can persuade him not to work night and day, as he said earlier, because that sends a bad message to a lot of people. Since the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974, the number of fatal accidents at work has fallen by 75%. Can he assure us that there will be no return to the bad old days?

First, I am not going to apologise for working hard. My right hon. and hon. Friends are working extremely hard. However, I can assure the right hon. Lady that the UK’s excellent health and safety standards will not be compromised as a result of this review. It will focus on unnecessary bureaucracy. I wonder whether she has spoken to businesses in her constituency—I have spoken to them in my constituency—who complain that, in order to comply with some of the complex bureaucracy of some of the health and safety rules, they have to employ consultants. We need to ensure it is easier to comply, but that in no way should undermine the importance of health and safety.