Third Reading

Part of Deregulation Bill – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 4th March 2015.

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Photo of Lord Wallace of Saltaire Lord Wallace of Saltaire Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 5:45 pm, 4th March 2015

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his constructive comments, and I recognise that the timing creates some difficulties. I have consulted on whether draft regulations can be finalised, approved and laid before the general election, but I have to say that with the best will in the world that will not, at this stage, be possible. I cannot give the noble Lord a guarantee on the structure, nature and composition of the next Government—I am not sure that any of us can at present. That, of course, has to remain a matter of good will and of the commitment of those who have been involved from all sides in these consultations.

The duties and the question of the employees of the self-employed are covered by the general duty that the self-employed have to consider the interests of others and the risks involved. That seems to me to be fully covered here. We have moved as far as we can and the draft guidance was intended to provide an indication of where this coalition Government would be moving and where we would trust any successor Government to continue in assessing this very delicate balance between where Professor Löfstedt started, which was with the sense that we should try,

“to exempt from health and safety law those self employed people whose work activities pose no potential risk of harm to others”,

and, as he also said in his original review, to,

“help reduce the perception that health and safety law is inappropriately applied”.

That is what we on both sides are attempting to do. I felt that the Government had now moved sufficiently far to assure the Opposition that we were very much pursuing this role and that our proposals would bring Britain into line with other European countries and remove health and safety burdens from the self-employed in low-risk occupations. I hope that that does provide sufficient assurance, but I will see how far we have been able to do so.