Home Office minister Baroness Scotland apologised to a conference organised in April by the Centre for Corporate Accountability that the draft bill had not yet been published. However, she said: “We are still hoping to publish a draft bill before the end of the current parliamentary session.” This means by the beginning of the next queen speech -around October 2004.
But Scotland emphasised that the government would remain committed to its manifesto commitment to reform in this area.
The Labour government first announced its intention to legislate in this area at the 1997 Labour Party conference. A year earlier the Law Commission had proposed that there should be a new offence of “corporate killing” which would allow a company to be prosecuted for a homicide offence without the need to prosecute a director or senior manager of the company.
One of the main reasons for the delay appears to be a conflict within government about whether “crown bodies” – government departments and organisations controlled by them – should be prosecuted for the new offence. Although it would be difficult to allow private companies but not government bodies to be prosecuted for a homicide offence (allowing private, but not Home Office, prisons to be prosecuted, for example), some ministers remain uncertain about removing crown immunity.
With only five small companies convicted for manslaughter, the proposal to enact a corporate killing offence has been widely supported by trade unions and safety groups. However, there is now much greater uncertainty about the contents of the draft bill.
There is concern, for example, that the government has rowed back on in its summer 2000 consultation document, which suggested that any new bill would increase not only the criminal accountability of companies, but also of company director and managers. The Home Office has made it clear that the government’s bill will not be directed at the conduct of company directors.
The new reforms will be nowhere near as radical as reforms passed by Canadian parliament in November 2003. The new Canadian legislation:
#235: Educate, agitate, organise: David Ridley on educational inequality ● Heba Taha on Egypt at 100 ● Independent Sage and James Meadway on two years of Covid-19 ● Eyal Weizman on Forensic Architecture ● Marion Roberts on Feminist Cities ● Tributes to bell hooks and Anwar Ditta ● Book reviews and regular columns ● And much more!
And you choose how much to pay for your subscription...
Liam Kennedy speaks to John Chadfield and Eran Cohen of the new United Tech and Allied Workers (UTAW) branch about their plans for the sector, democratic workplaces and big tech’s pollution problem
After two decades of war in Afghanistan, there is no option but to protest a conference for companies complicit in human rights violations, writes Kaya Purchase
Burger King's foray into recent conflict in Azerbaijan is part of a historical trend of corporations weighing in – and benefitting from – conflict, writes Tommy Hodgson
Major financial institutions have cited Deliveroo’s employment practices for its disastrous public share launch. Alice Martin and Tom Powdrill look at what went wrong and what it might mean for workers’ rights
Betting firms have infiltrated football culture and destroyed lives. James Grimes argues its time to reclaim the sport
Marcus Rashford is challenging neoliberal framings of poverty. We should call him a hero, argues Siobhan McGuirk – without letting his sponsors off the hook