Clause 5 - Liability of directors etc

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 18th January 2005.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Transport)

I have a small point to make. The clause is self-explanatory. Would it be possible for the corporate body to wriggle free of the offence that is being prosecuted because the director, manager or secretary—I presume it is the financial secretary, rather than a humble, little office secretary—is deemed to be the officer responsible within the body so no charges will be pressed against the corporate body itself? How will that work in practice? Would action be taken only against the individual who can be identified or against the corporate body? Where the affairs of a corporate body are managed by its members, would only one member be prosecuted or would they be deemed to be jointly and severally liable to prosecution?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The clause is intended to ensure that it is not possible for a prosecution to be avoided simply by individuals hiding behind the company or the company blaming individuals. The company could be prosecuted and the clause makes it clear that individuals could be prosecuted and therefore the provisions are comprehensive in terms of the liability. The point about the body corporate managed by its members is simply to ensure that it is not possible for a number of people to say, ''Not me, guv?'' and that it is possible for the body to be held to account so that the members—in this case—can be dealt with in the same way as the directors of a company. In general, that means that it would be a straightforward prosecution of the company, but it would be clear to the company, as well as to those seeking to take things forward, that people could not hide behind that. I hope that that gives the hon. Lady the assurance that she seeks.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.