My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Yvette Cooper) has made the following Statement.
On 16 August I announced the publication of Lord Gill’s report into the causes of the tragic factory explosion at ICL Plastics Ltd in Glasgow on 11 May 2004. At the same time I asked the chair of the HSE and its board to consider the report’s findings and to report back to me on progress by the end of September, addressing both Lord Gill’s criticisms of its actions since the explosion and how the report’s recommendations could be taken forward. I said that I would report back to Parliament on progress in the autumn.
The HSE has now responded to me. I have placed a copy of its response in the Libraries of both Houses and it is also available on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/lpg.htm.
In the response the HSE chair acknowledges that, while primary responsibility for the tragic accident rested with the site user, there were failings within the HSE which need to be addressed. The chair also reiterates the apologies that both she and the chief executive of HSE made for these failings both during and after Lord Gill’s inquiry, and explains the steps that have already been taken since the accident.
HSE has worked closely with members of UKLPG, the trade association of the liquefied petroleum gas industry, to develop plans for the replacement of buried metal pipework with polyethylene pipes, which do not carry the risk of corrosion. It has been agreed that the replacement programme will include domestic sites, which goes beyond Lord Gill’s recommendations. The programme, which is scheduled to be completed by 2015, will be prioritised using an established risk model to ensure that sites identified as high risk are dealt with first. In parallel with this, HSE is also preparing an inspection campaign with local authorities focusing on sites identified as high risk, and is working with the industry to review and update user guidance materials and codes of practice for suppliers and installers.
The HSE also launched a two-stage consultation to address those recommendations of the Gill report where action is not already under way. The initial stage of the consultation seeks views from interested stakeholders in the LPG industry, the wider business community and those with an interest in health and safety, and will run until 19 November. I hope honourable Members will take the opportunity to feed their views into this.
Following completion of this initial stage, the Government will in the new year publish the full response to Lord Gill’s report. This will include firm proposals for action which will form the basis of the second stage of the consultation, supported by a formal impact assessment.