Corporate responsibility Bill falls at first hurdle

A Labour backbencher’s effort to make company directors responsible for deaths and injuries in their businesses has fallen at the first hurdle.

Link: Corporate reputation: Name and Shame

Jarrow’s Stephen Hepburn introduced his Health and Safety (Directors’ Duties) Bill under the Private Members procedure in the Commons.

But although he won the vote by 28 to nil, less than the Commons quorum of 40 MPs took part in the Division of the House, so his Bill fell and went to the back of the queue for such Private Members measures.

With a UK general election confidently expected on May 5, this means his proposed legislation has no chance of becoming law.

It would have made all directors in small firms and a named director in larger ones responsible for health and safety, and therefore liable to prison or personal fines if any shortcomings led to death or injury of workers.

Both Trade and Industry Minister Jane Kennedy and her Tory Shadow Tim Boswell declined to either support or oppose the Bill.

Mr Hepburn said afterwards: ‘We won the argument. We won the vote. We were defeated by Parliamentary procedure. The campaign goes on and this will become law.’

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