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Mr. Dismore: My hon. Friend is quoting at length from the Law Commission’s paper, which said that there was no consultation, but the Government’s paper did consult on the issue, so perhaps he could answer that point.

Mr. Sutcliffe: I shall respond to my hon. Friend’s question in due course—[ Interruption.] If hon. Members give me the opportunity, I shall refer to the point that he raised.

The potential application of the offence is sometimes considered to be more restricted than it will be. For example, NHS hospital trusts are sometimes quoted as a type of body that will not be covered because they are not incorporated, but that is not correct because NHS trusts are, by statute, corporate bodies.

There was also an interesting example on Second Reading, which was further considered in Committee. The hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) referred to an example of a potentially serious gap, suggesting that the Bill would not apply to Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, which was prosecuted some years ago following the collapse of a pedestrian walkway in Ramsgate. That case involved six fatalities and Lloyd’s Register, which had certified the walkway, was prosecuted along with the design and build contractor, the sub-contractor and the port of Ramsgate. We are satisfied that there would be no gap in the law in that respect, and that the offence would have applied to all four defendants in that case. Specifically, we understand that Lloyd’s Register of Shipping is a registered industrial and provident society. As such, under the terms of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965, it is a form of statutory corporation and is not an unincorporated body.

We have approached the issue from a pragmatic angle. Our focus has been on addressing the key problem in the law, which is the difficulty of prosecuting large companies and corporations under the identification principle. Information from the Health and Safety Executive suggests that only 2 per cent. of its prosecutions are against unincorporated bodies, and that they typically involve smaller businesses, such as building firms and sole traders, where individual prosecutions are likely to be possible.

4 Dec 2006 : Column 88

A wholesale extension of the offence to unincorporated bodies would mean that it would apply not only to larger partnerships and similar organisations, but to smaller clubs and societies. Organisations of that nature are least likely to understand the implications of the new offence, and most likely to act risk aversely through ignorance. We would not want to put off local sports clubs and the like, although I recognise that there is a range of opinion that the offence should extend in some fashion to those bodies.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) asked about the offence not applying to undertakings, as was originally proposed in 2004. In May 2000, in the consultation paper, “Reforming the Law on Involuntary Manslaughter”, the Government canvassed the possibility of the offence applying to all undertakings. They noted in paragraph 3.2.4 that although the term is used without definition in the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act, the Health and Safety Executive had relied on the definition in section 15 of the Local Employment Act 1960, which has since been repealed, in which it means

An alternative definition can be found in the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004, in which “undertaking” means

Notwithstanding the circularity of the latter definition, and the fact that “undertaking” is frequently used without definition, we think that it is reasonably clear that the term “undertaking” would cover the business of a sole trader. That is apparent, for example, from section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act, which imposes a duty on

that he is not exposed to risks. We consider that it would be illogical and unnecessary to apply corporate liability to the business of a sole trader. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that criminal liability exists in circumstances in which reliance on individual liability would be inadequate, hence the exclusion of corporations sole in clause 1(2). In our view, nothing would be added in terms of deterrence or the rights of victims if we were to legislate to provide that sole traders could face corporate as well as personal liability. We do not therefore consider it appropriate to apply the new offence to those undertakings. To the extent that that would enable the offence to extend to unincorporated bodies, the position is covered. I explained to my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon that I was happy to discuss further details with him during the passage of the Bill.

I am conscious that Scottish partnerships are in a different position from other unincorporated bodies, as they have a separate legal personality. I have not acted on that with any amendments today, but I will consider the matter further, and the Government will introduce amendments in relation to unincorporated bodies in the other place.

I do not want to make false promises at this stage, as the answers are not straightforward. I am prepared,
4 Dec 2006 : Column 89
however, to consider the matter in more detail to see what might be done. I recognise the sincerity of hon. Members in wanting to get the provision right. I hope that I have set out how difficult that is, not only through my explanation but through that given by the Law Commission. We have had an opportunity to air the matter further, and we will consider what amendments can be tabled in the other place. With those guarantees, I hope that the hon. Member for Hornchurch will not press the matter to the vote as he threatened. I also ask my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon not to press his amendment to the vote.

James Brokenshire: I have listened carefully to the Minister and to the debate on new clause 3. I listened carefully to the comments of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg). I recognise his point in relation to the concept of piercing the corporate veil and making holding companies liable in some way for the acts of their subsidiaries. In tabling the new clause, my intention was to highlight the issue. There is a gap, and the issue has been aired this evening. I hope that it will receive further consideration in the other place.

Unfortunately, the Minister’s arguments in relation to unincorporated associations and partnerships have not taken the debate much further forward from where it was on Second Reading, in Committee or even before the Bill was published yet again. The argument was advanced that the matter could not be dealt with because of the complexity of structure. As we have highlighted, however, in other cases, unincorporated associations and partnerships are covered and liability can arise. As for the distinction of not wanting to extend the common law offence widely and to other unincorporated associations and partnerships, the argument is not particularly strong.

In relation to the argument about the small number of cases, I reiterate that I would not want to have to explain to someone who has lost a loved one that an offence does not lie merely because a business was constructed in the form of a partnership rather than a corporate structure, particularly when partnerships can have hundreds of employees and be large businesses in their own right.

The Minister said in Committee, and repeated this evening, that he sees this question as one for the future. Tonight, we have the opportunity to consider the matter. Unless another of the signatories to amendment No. 1 seeks to press it to a vote, I should like to do so. Meanwhile, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1

The offence

Amendment proposed: No. 1, in page 1, line 11, at end insert—

‘(d) a partnership;

(e) an unincorporated association.’.— [Mr. Dismore.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 169, Noes 288.
Division No. 009]
[7.46 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Baron, Mr. John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Bone, Mr. Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Conway, Derek
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice and Howden)
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Green, Damian
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Hosie, Stewart
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
McDonnell, John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Milton, Anne
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant

Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Alan
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Teather, Sarah
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Walker, Mr. Charles
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Mark
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Wishart, Pete
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

Angela Watkinson and
Michael Fabricant

Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Janet
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Benn, rh Hilary
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew

Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFall, rh John
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meale, Mr. Alan
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne

Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Frank Roy and
Tony Cunningham
Question accordingly negatived.
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4 Dec 2006 : Column 91

4 Dec 2006 : Column 92

4 Dec 2006 : Column 93

Clause 2

Meaning of “relevant duty of care”

8 pm

Mr. Dismore: I beg to move amendment No. 3, in page 2, line 20, at end insert—

‘(bb) a duty owed in respect of the detention of any person in lawful custody;’.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 12, in page 2, line 29, at end insert—

‘(d) a duty owed to anyone held in custody.’.

No. 13, in page 3, line 3, at end insert—

‘ “custody” includes being held in prison, secure mental healthcare facilities, secure children’s homes, secure training centres, immigration removal centres, court cells and police cells, and being subject to supervision by court, prisoner and detainee escort services;’.

No. 14, in page 3, line 25 [Clause 3], leave out ‘or (b)’ and insert ‘(b) or (d)’.

No. 41, in page 3, line 25, leave out ‘or (b)’ and insert ‘, (b) or (bb)’.

No. 15, in page 3, line 28, leave out ‘or (b)’ and insert ‘(b) or (d)’.

No. 4, in page 4, line 36 [Clause 5], at end insert ‘or (bb)’.

No. 5, in page 5, line 4, at end insert—

‘(e) the management of a prison, youth offenders’ institute, police station custody unit, immigration accommodation centre, or any other place of lawful detention.’.

No. 16, in page 5, line 4, at end insert—

‘(e) the management of a prison, young offenders’ institution, police custody unit, immigration accommodation centre or any other place of lawful detention.’.

No. 73, in page 14, line 26 [Schedule 2], at end insert ‘Her Majesty’s Prison Service’.

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