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Government goes soft on killing bill

THE HOME Office is preparing to publish watered-down proposals on corporate manslaughter to target companies, rather than directors, in its forthcoming draft Bill.

The Government confirmed its intention to publish the legislation before Christmas.

But a Home Office spokesman said the Bill would sanction unlimited fines against companies, rather than threatening individual directors with imprisonment.

The spokesman said the Government would consult with unions and employers on the draft legislation before any final Bill began its passage through Parliament.

This means the Bill is highly unlikely to become law before the next general election, despite being a Labour manifesto commitment during elections in 1997 and 2001. It is likely to be delayed by the heavy legislative programme unveiled this week.

The Home Office has already consulted on corporate manslaughter legislation for three years between 2000 and 2003 but the spokesman added that further consultation was necessary because of the complexity of the law.

Unions were fighting for directors to face prison sentences when found liable for workplace deaths and have criticised the Government for dragging its feet on the issue. Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie said: 'Construction workers will be massively disappointed that all we have is a draft bill.'