The government’s heroism bill has passed its final stage in parliament – but not before one final attack on lord chancellor Chris Grayling in the House of Lords.
The third report stage of the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism bill was completed in the second chamber yesterday, with the government securing a small amendment to the original wording.
The legislation compels judges to consider the context of alleged negligence, or whether the defendant had shown a generally responsible attitude to health and safety previously. The final version of the bill has the word ‘generally’ replaced with ‘predominantly’ after an amendment was moved in the lords.
Despite the bill clearing the report stage, it still faced a final round of criticism from opposition and cross-bench peers.
Cross-bencher Lord Pannick (David Pannick QC, pictured) lambasted the ‘pitiful creature’ of a bill and praised justice minister Lord Faulks for acting as the ‘straight man in Mr Grayling’s comedy routine’.
Pannick said: ‘It will stand as a monument to the jurisprudential and policy achievements of lord chancellor Grayling. It is a fitting testament to the lord chancellor: “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”.’
He added: ‘This always was and it remains the most ridiculous piece of legislation approved by parliament in a very long time. [It is] a text that would barely muster a pass mark in GCSE legal studies.’
Faulks told peers that the bill will not allow employers who take a ‘slapdash’ approach to health and safety to escape litigation.
He added: ‘Instead, it means that the court must focus on whether the defendant has taken a predominantly responsible approach to safety in carrying out the activity in the course of which the alleged negligence or breach of statutory duty occurred.’
The bill now awaits royal assent.