§ Mr. Harold Walker
I beg to move Amendment No. 72, in page 28, line 36, leave out from 'shall' to informed' in line 37, and insert',in circumstances in which it is necessary to do so for the purpose of assisting in keeping persons (or the representatives of persons) employed at any premises adequately.'
Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this we shall take Amendments No. 73 in page 28, line 39, at end insert'the following descriptions of information, that is to say—',No. 74, in page 28, line 40, leave out 'any', and No. 75 in page 29, line 1, leave out 'such information as he thinks fit' and insert 'information'.
§ Mr. Walker
These amendments, again, meet a commitment given in Standing Committee. At that time, hon. Gentlemen opposite put down amendments which would have required inspectors to give all the information at their disposal to work-people. I explained that, while I welcomed and completely agreed with the spirit of these amendments, I could not accept that inspectors should be under an absolute and open-ended duty in these terms.
In practical terms this would be quite unrealistic—for instance, frequently work-people at a plant will know more about the process being carried on there than the inspector, and there is no point in requiring inspectors to tell grandmother how to suck eggs.
Furthermore, we hope that, by putting a duty on employers to keep other work-people informed, we shall have established that channel as its main source of information; the inspector's rôle will be to 393 supplement the information made available by employers.
Finally, we must be careful not to overburden inspectors to such an extent that they cannot get on with their main job of helping to prevent accidents. Therefore, as with all the other duties in the Bill concerning the availability of information, we need to build in some discretion as to what information must be made available.
I think that these amendments achieve that effect. The subsection as amended establishes that we expect inspectors to tell workpeople about the risks they run. But it also provided an objective for this duty—namely, that the information to be given must be necessary for the purpose of keeping workpeople adequately informed about risks to their health, safety and welfare. I think that these are very fair objectives, which have the effect of making the duty practical and workable. Also, it should be noted that the provision does not say that what is necessary is to be a matter for the inspector to decide; it is left open for discussion as to whether it is necessary to disclose some particular information. This, of course, makes the duty on the inspector much stronger.
I hope that the House will agree that these amendments are fair and realistic, and that, combined with the earlier amendment made in Standing Committee, they considerably strengthen the practical impact of this subsection.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 73, in page 28, line 39, at end insert
'the following descriptions of information, that is to say—'.
§ No. 74, in page 28, line 40, leave out 'any'.
§ No. 75, in page 29, line 1, leave out 'such information as he thinks fit' and insert information'.—[Mr. Harold Walker.]