Tories Promise to Torch Health and Safety MadnessMon 20 Sep, 2010
By Macer Hall, Political Editor | Daily Express
DAVID Cameron is to set off a bonfire of health and safety regulations at the Tory Party conference next month.
The Prime Minister is to sweep away scores of petty rules and laws blamed for creating a suffocating risk-averse culture throughout Britain’s public services.
Under the shake-up, citizens who perform first aid or other “good Samaritan” acts will get legal protection from being sued in personal injury cases.
Teachers will be spared having to fill in complex risk assessment forms before taking pupils on school trips. And laws allowing council bureaucrats to ban fireworks displays, street parties and concerts will be curbed.
A coalition source said: “What we are determined to see is a great extension of personal freedom, at the same time as a rolling back both of the state and the power of the courts.”
The onslaught on the so-called “elf ’n’ safety” culture that spiralled under Labour is to form the centrepiece of the conference in Birmingham.
A “common sense” report drawn up for the Prime Minister by Tory grandee Lord Young is understood to include a string of recommendations for sweeping away irritating petty laws. Concern about the growing cost of compensation claims has been intensifying in recent years. Over the past five years, the NHS has paid out £8million in compensation.
Members of emergency services, including part-time police officers, should not face being sued when they have risked life and limb to save others. For school trips by pupils, a simple consent form signed by parents should be all that is needed.
The report will also say that schools should not be liable for injuries suffered by children on trips or when playing sports, except in cases where there has been reckless disregard .
Firework displays, street parties and concerts should not face bans by local councils or officials on health and safety grounds, the report will argue.
Organisers are likely to get the right to challenge any decision – with an independent ombudsman ruling on contentious cases. Small shops, offices and other low-risk workplaces should no longer face complex paperwork to meet risk-assessment and other health and safety criteria.
Lawyers who charge success fees in no win, no fee agreements will be limited in the amount recoverable from defendants.
Judges should be given discretion to cap costs that claimants can recover in personal injury cases. Lord Young’s “common sense” review, launched in June, was scheduled for publication earlier this month, but it has been delayed to bring the date closer to the Tory conference.
The proposals are expected to delight traditional Tories who were infuriated by the growth in the size of the state and expansion of snooping and meddling by bureaucrats under Labour.