The Bill, which seeks to impose prison terms on any gas, solid fuel or oil-fired heating engineer found to be in serious breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (H&SW Act), has now had its third reading in the House of Commons.
It has also completed the stage where it passes between the House of Lords and the House of Commons so that amendments, made during its passage, can be debated. It is now awaiting Royal Assent, after which the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.
A spokesman in Lord McKenzie of Luton’s office at the Department for Work and Pensions, confirmed the new law was on its way. “The bill passed its final stage in the House of Lords last night (Monday, October 13),” he said.
“There are now no further hurdles facing this bill, it just needs to be signed off by Her Majesty, and then it will become law.
“It’s done and dusted as far as we are concerned and the Department is very pleased about this.”
The Health and Safety (Offences) Bill was introduced to amend the current framework for maximum penalties outlined in Section 33 of the H&SW Act.
The bill proposes to increase the maximum fine which may be imposed by a magistrates’ court for most health and safety offences to £20,000 from £5,000. Fines imposed by crown courts remain unlimited.
The bill also proposes to make certain offences, which are currently heard in a magistrates’ court, tried in crown courts and makes imprisonment an option for H&S offences in both the lower and higher courts.