HC Deb 20 October 2003 vol 411 c356
3. Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore)

If he will make a statement on Crown immunity from prosecution for health and safety offences as it relates to the Royal Mint in Llantrisant. [132603]

The Minister for Work (Mr. Desmond Browne)

The Government remain committed to removing Crown immunity from statutory health and safety enforcement and will seek a legislative opportunity to do so when parliamentary time allows.

In the meantime, the Health and Safety Executive applies Crown censure procedures where prosecution would have been justified but for Crown immunity. On 11 September 2002, the Royal Mint was censured under those procedures in respect of the circumstances of the accidental death of John Wynne.

Huw Irranca-Davies

I thank the Minister for that response and for the assurances that he has given and which I have received in writing from the Department. Does he agree that, for the benefit of Mr. Wynne's widow and family and the many others affected by Crown immunity from prosecution, the Health and Safety Executive recommendation of 1978 that Crown prosecution immunity should be lifted should be acted on as soon as possible? If the Government cannot find time in their legislative programme, will my hon. Friend be willing to support a private Member's Bill should one be forthcoming?

Mr. Browne

As my earlier answer implied, I am aware of the circumstances of the tragic death of John Wynne. Before I go on to the detail of my hon. Friend's question, I express my condolences to Mr. Wynne's widow, Mrs. Katrina Wynne, and to the rest of the family. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend's hard work on behalf of his constituent in that case.

My hon. Friend raises an important issue relating to the timing of this overdue reform. I can only repeat that the Government are committed to that reform and that as soon as an appropriate legislative opportunity makes itself available we shall reform the law in that regard.