A bill which creates a problem and offers no solution. What a waste of time.
Along with Iain Duncan Smith and the Downing Street cat, Chris Grayling was one of the only survivors of David Cameron’s reshuffle last week.
Judging by the tweets from many in the legal profession, there was some confusion as to why – but to me it was hardly a surprise.
Grayling was brought in as a clinical and cold-hearted assassin to the legal budget, treating cuts with all the focus and one-eyed attention of Linford Christie at the starting line.
He is also brilliant at the kind of nonsensical, ill-informed, blinkered rhetoric loved by the Mail-reading focus groups.
The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill, in this respect, is perhaps his finest hour. Grayling has identified a problem that wasn’t there, suggested a remedy that won’t change anything and will no doubt receive the plaudits of middle England for his insistence on having done something about it.
Grayling wants to stop spurious claims from being brought against responsible employers and bolster the court in tackling them. How the bill is supposed to do that is neither here nor there.
His reasoning is quite remarkable. Our justice secretary told the Telegraph at the weekend that he wants to ‘slay the health and safety culture’ that supposedly means the nation's workers are constantly looking for ways to sue their bosses.
This would be the health and safety culture that has seen deaths at work reduced from more than 250 to ‘just’ 133 in the past 20 years. Grayling doesn’t seem to realise that responsible workers don’t cause accidents and aren’t the ones who face litigation. What extra protection do they need?
I don’t mind a health and safety culture if it means we prevent people coming out of work in an ambulance. That culture needs supporting, not slaying – and irresponsible employers shouldn’t be encouraged to cut corners by government.
Courts already deal with spurious claims in a pretty robust way and the Jackson reforms mean claimant firms are far less inclined to bring dodgy cases. The government is already winning.
Yet the rhetoric continues. The irony of Grayling’s bill is that he could actually make ‘heroes’ less inclined to risk litigation for the common good, as they have been so brainwashed into thinking a compensation culture exists.
The bill changes nothing except perception. It is legislation for the masses which only places the masses in more harm.
John Hyde is a Gazette reporter