HL Deb 16 January 1995 vol 560 cc33-4WA
Lord Stoddart of Swindon

asked the Chairman of Committees:

On whose authority it was decided that the health and safety standards of the Palace of Westminster should be set by European Community Regulations and whether such decision contravened the 1935 judgment in the Kings Bench Division concerning Palace of Westminster privileges.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham)

United Kingdom health and safety legislation is not considered as applying to the Palace of Westminster, having regard to the 1935 decision inR. v. Graham-Campbell ex parte Herbert [1 KB 594]. This decision indicates that the courts will not, in the absence of express provision or necessary implication, treat the provisions of an Act of Parliament as binding on the two Houses themselves, so far as those provisions would affect the internal affairs of the Houses. The Palace authorities do, however, try to comply fully with the relevant legislation as if it were binding on them in the same way as on the Crown.

The Government are committed to applying the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to the Palace of Westminster as soon as a suitable legislative opportunity arises. The House of Lords Offices Committee agreed to this in principle in its Sixth Report, Session 1992–93, HL Paper 109, to which the House agreed on 27 July 1993.

No relevant EC legislation is directly applicable: European directives on health and safety are usually implemented by regulations made under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993 applied to the two Houses provisions on compensation to employees who are disadvantaged as a result of health and safety activities. These provisions gave effect to EC Directive 89/381/EEC on measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work.