Regulatory Reform Bill [H.L.]
Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen (Labour)
I rise to speak against Amendment No. 78A in particular. It is more restrictive than the Bill as currently drafted.
At present, the Bill is drafted with a view to avoiding formal action being taken whenever possible. It should allow for discussions and negotiations to take place, during which time it is hoped that agreement will be reached over any difficulties between those who must enforce the regulations and those who have to follow the regulations. The amendment would change this process and, in my view, that would not be for the better. Rather than the concept that enforcers "may" take action, the Bill would state that the enforcers "intend" to take action and therefore would give much less room for any negotiations or changing of positions to take place.
While serving on the Health and Safety Commission, I became very aware of how bureaucratic and confusing for everyone were the "minded to" provisions in health and safety legislation. It was a concept which was universally unpopular, not least with the officials who had to implement it. This contrasted with the proposals set out in the enforcement concordat which the Government have drawn up after considerable consultation with interested parties.
I am assuming that under the proposed new code a similar approach would be taken. It would give a chance for officials to talk over any particular area, with a view to resolving issues before any formal enforcement action is taken. This seems to me to be the most realistic and practical way to resolve difficulties whenever possible. Amendment No. 78A would appear to curtail this approach. I hope that the Minister will not accept it.