New Clause 4

Part of Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 19 June 2008.

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Photo of Lorely Burt Lorely Burt Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party 2:00, 19 June 2008

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

New clause 4 would remove primary authorities’ blanket power to prevent local authorities from taking enforcement action in their own area, while ensuring that the courts have the evidence that they need to treat business fairly and that primary authorities have intelligence on regulatory issues affecting the businesses that they work with.

Clause 28, which we have discussed, bestows on one local authority the power of veto over another local authority’s enforcement decisions. Not only is that undemocratic, but it gives the primary authority de facto powers of legal interpretation, which are the  proper function of the courts. New clause 4 proposes to remove that veto and leave it to the courts, rather than the primary authority, to decide whether enforcement action is unjustified in the light of advice given to a company by the primary authority. It would protect the Bill’s intention to promote consistency and deter unjustified enforcement action without the attendant objectionable transfers of power involved in clause 28. Subsection (1) of the proposed new clause would improve the primary authority’s ability to focus its work on the area of greatest need by ensuring that it has the fullest possible picture of the company’s health and safety performance.