LABOUR/Co-op MP Andy Love has introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill to Parliament calling for employers evading health and safety practices to face stiffer penalties.
Under current rules, magistrates can only fine employers up to £ 5,000 for health and safety breaches, which Mr Love says amounts to a 'smack on the wrist'.
The Edmonton MP's Bill – which was unopposed at its first reading stage – will also widen the scope for prison sentences to
cover all areas of the Health & Safety at Work Act and increase penalties for non-insurance to a more realistic level.
`As a labourer myself, more than 30 years ago, mainly working on the M1 extension I have experienced personally the importance of health and safety at work, ` Mr Love said.
`In the post industrial age most of us expect working life to be relatively comfortable and at the very least safe.Â We certainly don't expect to be maimed, laid off for life or at worst work ourselves into an early grave.
`However, bad health and safety practice leading to ill health still goes on, most of it hidden with more than one million people
injured at work and approximately two million suffering from ill health caused by work in 2002.Â
`This is unacceptable and the Government needs to act to stamp out bad practise and protect not only this generation of workers but future generations of workers.`
Despite his Commons success, Mr Love admits his Bill has less than a 50 per cent chance of becoming law due to the lack of Parliamentary time available for Private Members and Ten Minute Rule Bills.
The second reading will be on Friday March 12th or later, depending on the progress of proposed legislation in the Westminster queue and, providing there is no opposition, it will then be referred to a Commons committee.
`It's a bit of a dicey proceedure,` said Mr Love. `There's around 25 Private Members or Ten Minute Rule Bills ahead of mine, though probably at least half of those will be opposed by the Government and will therefore be lost.
`The Government, as well as the TUC and CBI, are supporting my Bill, so with a bit of luck it could reach the Statute Book eventually. I spoke to the Bill for ten minutes and no one opposed it or called for a vote, so that's an encouraging start.
`Now we'll just have to see how things develop, but the problem is that so many Bills are competing for Parliamentary time during the Friday sessions.`