HC Deb 18 April 1989 vol 151 c178
12. Ms. Armstrong

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will meet the chair of the Health and Safety Commission to discuss the role of competent persons.

Mr. Nicholls

My right hon. Friend has no plans to do so. Many provisions in health and safety legislation require specified tasks to be carried out by competent persons. The Health and Safety Commission keeps these provisions under review. If the commission wishes to make proposals to my right hon. Friend which would affect the role of competent persons in any particular area, he will of course consider these proposals most carefully.

Ms. Armstrong

Will the Minister tell us who makes the judgment that someone has achieved the level of competence to be recognised as a competent person?

Mr. Nicholls

The reason why the concept of a competent person has been enshrined in our legislation for many years is that it puts the onus on the employer in those circumstances to ensure that the person is competent. I think that the hon. Lady will agree with me on reflection that to actually have a requirement of competency is often better than having a test of qualification. Whether somebody is competent is a matter of fact.

Mr. Hayward

Will my hon. Friend explain how he can meet and discuss anything with a chair, please?

Mr. Nicholls

I am tempted to follow my hon. Friend in thinking about that. Perhaps I misread the question; I thought it probably said "chairman".