New Clause 14 - Major incidents: duty of candour

Victims and Prisoners Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:00 pm on 4 December 2023.

Alert me about debates like this

Votes in this debate

“(1) In discharging their duties in relation to a major incident, public authorities and public servants and officials must at all times act within their powers—

(a) in the public interest, and

(b) with transparency, candour and frankness.

(2) If a major incident results in a court proceeding, official inquiry or investigation, public authorities and public servants and officials have a duty to assist—

(a) relating to their own activities, or

(b) where their acts or omissions may be relevant.

(3) In discharging the duty under subsection (2), public authorities and public servants and officials shall—

(a) act with proper expedition;

(b) act with transparency, candour and frankness,

(c) act without favour to their own position,

(d) make full disclosure of relevant documents, material and facts,

(e) set out their position on the relevant matters at the outset of the proceedings, inquiry or investigation, and

(f) provide further information and clarification as ordered by a court or inquiry.

(4) In discharging their duty under subsection (2), public authorities and public servants and officials shall have regard to the pleadings, allegations, terms of reference and parameters of the relevant proceedings, inquiry or investigation but shall not be limited by them, in particular where they hold information which might change the ambit of the said proceedings, inquiry or investigation.

(5) The duties in subsections (1) and (2) shall—

(a) be read subject to existing laws relating to privacy, data protection and national security,

(b) apply in a qualified way with respect to private law and non-public functions as set out in subsection (6), and

(c) not be limited by any issue of insurance indemnity.

(6) The duties in subsections (1) and (2) shall be enforceable by application to the relevant court or inquiry chairperson by any person affected by the alleged breach, or the court or inquiry may act of its own motion. Where there are no extant court or inquiry proceedings, the duties may be enforced by judicial review proceedings in the High Court.”—(Kevin Brennan.)

This new clause would require public authorities and public servants and officials to act in the public interest and with transparency, candour and frankness when carrying out their duties in relation to major incidents.

Brought up.

Question put, That the clause be added to the Bill.

Division number 22 Victims and Prisoners Bill — New Clause 14 - Major incidents: duty of candour

Aye: 193 MPs

No: 277 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

Tellers

No: A-Z by last name

Tellers

The House divided: Ayes 193, Noes 279.

Question accordingly negatived.