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(4) The function of appointing a person as a Deputy Chief Coroner is exercisable, in the case of a judge of the High Court or a Circuit judge, by the Lord Chief Justice after consulting the Lord Chancellor.
( ) The Lord Chancellor may, after consulting the Lord Chief Justice, remove a Deputy Chief Coroner appointed by the Lord Chancellor from office for incapacity or misbehaviour.. (Bridget Prentice.)
(a) by virtue of this Schedule an investigation is conducted by a person who holds or has held office as judge of the High Court (including the Chief Coroner if he or she is such a person) or by a person who has held office as a judge of the Court of Appeal, and
Deputy Chief Coroner
Paragraph 1A(5) of Schedule 7 to the Coroners and Justice Act 2009..
Peter Bottomley (Worthing, West) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. A number of Members of Parliament have been involved in inquests such as that for Stephen Lawrence, who was one of my constituents, or the inquest that might have been held for Jay Abatan, another of my constituents, in my constituency. I had been hoping to raise these matters under new clause 36. The selection of amendments is unexceptionable, but I hope it will be taken on record that when scheduling the business of the House, Ministers should allow MPs to speak on subjects on which they have personal experience and to put forward the views and experiences of their constituents.
Dr. Evan Harris (Oxford, West and Abingdon) (LD):
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Tonight we have conducted inadequate scrutiny of the Bill. There are tens of Government amendments and new clauses that have not been scrutinised in most of the groups that you selected. I speak on behalf of those in all parts of the House who are keen to scrutinise legislation. Given that the Leader of the House said in business questions under your chairmanship that she took seriously the issue of how we scrutinise Bills on Report and said that in respect of the Coroners and Justice Bill she would seek to ensure with the Secretary of State that the two days are used in the best possible way for these important
measures, can you advise whether there is any way that we can ask the Leader of the House to come back to explain why we end up yet again with inadequate scrutiny by the elected House of very important matters, including the revision of the law on murder, of all things?
Mr. Speaker: The programme motion was decided earlier this afternoon. I am bound by the decision of the House and therefore I am bound by the programme motion. The hon. Gentleman is at liberty to take up with the Leader of the House anything that the right hon. and learned Lady said and any criticism of her.
Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey) (LD): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Knowing that the Secretary of State for Justice is on the Front Bench, may I, through you, ask that he consider what happened today? As you rightly say, the matter lies with those on the Government Front Bench to take the initiative. I hope that they will be sympathetic, and I am sure that you would accommodate that if they were.
That the draft Alterations to the Northern Ireland Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2002, which were laid before this House on 17 December, be approved. (Ian Lucas.)
That the draft Northern Ireland Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2009, which was laid before this House on 28 January, be approved. (Ian Lucas.)
That the draft Revenue and Customs Appeals Order 2009, which was laid before this House on 9 February, be approved. (Ian Lucas.)
That the draft Immigration (Biometric Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 2009, which were laid before this House on 9 February, be approved. (Ian Lucas.)
That the draft Occupational Pension Schemes (Levy Ceiling) Order 2009, which was laid before this House on 10 February, be approved. (Ian Lucas.)
That the draft Pension Protection Fund (Pension Compensation Cap) Order 2009, which was laid before this House on 23 February, be approved. (Ian Lucas.)
Mr. Michael Clapham (Barnsley, West and Penistone) (Lab): I am pleased to have secured this Adjournment debate on blacklisting, because the practice impacts on the health of the construction industry and is accordingly a matter of public concern. The Government are the sectors largest client, so they have some responsibility to ensure that the working practices of the 1930s have no place in our modern construction industry. I hope that the Minister will take action to encourage the industry to change.
I want to make four brief points. The first is about the impact on the health and safety culture of the industry, and the second is about the climate of fear that discrimination creates. My third point is about the fact that many of the companies using the list kept by the Consulting Association were major companies working on publicly procured projects. Finally, I want to suggest to the Minister that, along with other measures, section 3 of the Employment Relations Act 1999 should now be implemented.
The construction industry is important. Before the recession, it provided employment for more than 2.8 million people. It contributed 8.7 per cent. of the UK economys gross value added in 2006; to put that into perspective, I should say that that is twice that produced by the energy, automotive and aerospace industries combined. Construction has a huge impact on the UK economy. It is vital, and that is why we need a world-class construction sector that uses the best employment practices.
The health and safety record of the industry is worrying. Construction, for example, accounts for almost one third of workplace fatalities in the UK. The year 2006-07 saw an increase in the number of fatalities from 60 to 77, and in 2007-08 there were 72 fatal injuries. More than half those deaths resulted from a fall or from a workers being struck by a falling object.
Workplace safety representatives are an essential tool in helping to improve the health and safety culture on site, but the blacklisting of people who take on the job militates against that. The Government have an important role to play in the issue, and workplace safety representatives will need to be reassured that they will not be blacklisted if they do their job properly. I shall return to that issue later.
Jim Sheridan (Paisley and Renfrewshire, North) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that health and safety should be part of the criteria when construction companies bid for Government contracts? The Government should look at the companies track records on health and safety to flush out those that do not regard the issue as important.
Mr. Clapham: I thank my hon. Friend for that comment, which I agree with. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 place an onus on the client to include health and safety in its criteria, and given that the Government are the biggest client in the public sector, they have a responsibility to take on and ensure health and safety.
Between 2004 and 2007, a health and safety advisory scheme operated in the construction industry, run jointly by the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians and employers. That scheme, which included the Health and Safety Executive, was considered a success, but it has run into the sand because no more funding is available. Clearly, getting it up and running again is important for safety in construction. Bearing in mind that the 2007 regulations place a responsibility on Government, it is definitely something that they should pick up and put in place.
I recently spoke with a construction worker whose name is on the blacklist; I do not want to use his name for obvious reasons. He told me that he believed that the blacklisting was much more insidious than merely a list being kept by the Consulting Association. He had worked all his life in the industry and had been blacklisted for 35 years, basically for standing up for trade union rights, particularly in health and safety. In his view, what happens in the industry is that lists are exchanged from company to company. He came to that conclusion having been moved from one job to another. When he had been on site for only two or three days, he would be visited by the site agent and told that there was no work there for him. That caused him and his family enormous hardship, because he was continually moving from job to job and never having long-stay employment. He told me that the first time that he ever had any security was when he moved into the mining industry to work with construction companies such as Thyssen and Cementation that he had been working with on sites, because in mining they came under the framework of the Mines and Quarries Act 1954 and had to adhere to that. That gave him much more of a feeling of certainty than he had ever had on sites. The fact that he had to move from site to site, taking all his family, shows the kind of hardship that is imposed on a person in the position of being blacklisted by companies involved in construction.
Sir Robert McAlpine is one of more than 40 companies accused by Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, of breaching data protection laws after an investigation by his office sparked fears that many workers were being unfairly blacklisted.
The commissioner alleges that Ian Kerr, of Droitwich, Worcestershire, charged companies £3,000 a year to consult his database of 3,213 workers, whose names were accompanied by notes such as poor timekeeper, will cause trouble and Irish ex-army bad egg.
It would appear that Sir Robert McAlpine and other companies made thousands of requests a year, a spokesman for the Information Commissioner said. He said that each request for information on a specific employee cost about £2.20 on top of the yearly subscription. That suggests that Sir Robert McAlpine made more than 10,000 requests
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