Energy Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 23rd March 2004.

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Photo of Lord Kingsland Lord Kingsland Conservative 5:30 pm, 23rd March 2004

My Lords, Amendments Nos. 176A and 176B are intended to remedy a problem, which seems to have been unnoticed by the Government and their advisers, in relation to the application of the criminal law to offshore renewable energy installations.

Clause 77 provides that, by Order in Council, the criminal law may be applied to any actions which take place around an offshore renewable energy installation or within a renewable safety zone. Under subsections (6) and (7), liability may attach personally to directors and officers of companies for any criminal offence, whatever its nature, which is committed on the installation or in the safety zone.

The effect of this must be to widen the scope of the criminal law. It applies to all criminal offences which must include some in respect of which directors and officers would not otherwise be personally liable. Moreover, this widening will apply in such a way as to establish a legal inconsistency between certain offences committed within the jurisdiction, to which personal liability may not attach, and those committed in a safety zone, to which it will always attach.

We support the application of the normal criminal law to renewable installations and the area around them. However, there is no obvious policy rationale—at least, none that has been explained by the Government in consultation—either for widening the scope of the criminal law or for creating the difference in approach between the onshore and offshore regimes.

In our view, both subsections (6) and (7) of Clause 77 should be subject to the proviso that they are applicable if, and only if, the person in question would have been guilty of the offence, and therefore liable to be proceeded against, if the offence in question had taken place within a part of the United Kingdom. I beg to move.