HL Deb 04 November 1993 vol 549 cc1180-2

4.36 p.m.

The Earl of Arran rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 19th October be approved.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, this second order would introduce provisions broadly in line with those already in force in Great Britain by the enactment of the Environment and Safety Information Act 1988. Matters concerning health and safety and environmental protection are relevant currently as new Environmental Information Regulations have recently been made in Great Britain and Northern Ireland to implement the EC Directive on Freedom of Access to Information on the Environment. Those regulations complement the provisions of this order and it is opportune therefore that the order should be introduced at this time.

I believe that it will be helpful to the House if I comment briefly on the order and then say a few words about the detailed provisions. The main purpose of the order is to require the authorities responsible for the enforcement of specified health, safety and environmental legislation to keep registers containing details of enforcement notices issued under the legislation which affect members of the public. Such notices are concerned with protecting the public from safety or environmental hazards.

The Government are keen to promote the order on two counts. First, it will make a useful contribution towards public safety and environmental protection by making companies on whom notices are served more directly accountable to the public. Companies will be encouraged to take adequate and timely precautions to protect the public from any potential dangers arising from their operations, in the knowledge that if they fail to do so information about any enforcement notices served on them will be made publicly available.

Secondly, the order encourages greater openness by the public authorities concerned. The public will be able to be informed about enforcement action which has been taken in relation to matters affecting public safety which is fully consistent with the openness principle enshrined in the Citizen's Charter.

This is a short and straightforward order which will provide the public with useful information concerning its own safety. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 19th October be approved—(The Earl of Arran).

On Question, Motion agreed to.