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Research & Briefings

Department for Work and Pensions

In August 2002, the Government decided that the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLGR) would no longer be responsible for the work of the Health and Safety Commission and the Health and Safety Executive.

Responsibility has now been transferred to the Department for Work and Pensions.

The DTLGR continues to be responsible for

  • the work of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Marine Accident and Investigation Branch (safety on board British ships and ships in British waters);
  • the work of the Civil Aviation Authority and the Air Accident Investigation Branch (safety onboard Airplanes)

Click here, for information on those issues.

This page currently only contains information on the Government's responsibilities towards the work of the Health and Safety Commission and Health and Safety Executive.

The Ministers
The Department's Responsibilities
Proposed Government Reforms
The CCA and the Department

The Ministers
No Minister has been appointed.

History of Ministers
Until May 2001 - and the election of a second Labour government - safety had been the responsibility of the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) where the Secretary of State was the Rt. Hon. John Prescott M.P. and the minister with safety responsibilities was Rt. Hon. Michael Meacher M.P.

In May 2001, Dr Alan Whitehead MP was appointed Minister with day to day responsibility for health and safety. He was an Under-Secretary of State. It should be noted that in the last Parliament (1997 - 2001) the day to day responsibility for health and safety issues lay with the Rt.. Hon. Michael Meacher M.P. who was a 'Minister of State' - a rank higher than Dr Alan Whitehead.

Dr Alan Whitehead was ranked 'third' in the hierarchy of ministers in the Department.

  • The Rt. Hon. Stephen Byers M.P. is the Secretary of State
  • The Rt. Hon Jeff Rooker M.P. is a Minister of State
  • Mr Alan Whitehead M.P. is the Under-Secretary of State


The Department's Responsibility
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 sets out the Department's responsibilities in relation to health and safety and in particular in relation to the Health and Safety Commission (HSC). These can be summarised in the following manner:

  • It appoints the HSC and is responsible for it;

  • It has a duty to provide the HSC an amount of money (approved by the Treasury) which it considers appropriate to perform its functions. The Commission seeks the funds it requires through a submission to the Secretary of State justifying its expenditure needs. Having considered the Commission's requirements and their justifications, the Department allocates funds to it from the Departments's total supply.

  • The Commission prepares a Strategic Plan of Work, which is submitted to the Secretary of State for approval. The Commission must act in accordance with Plans approved by the Secretary of State for approval. The commission must act in accordance with Plans approved by the Secretary of State and within the resources made available. The Department has power to give the Commission directions and may also give guidance clarifying the limits of its activities

  • The Department may also, on receiving proposals from the Commission or after consulting it and other relevant bodies, make local authorities responsible for enforcement of the relevant statutory provisions of the 1974 Act by means of regulations defining the extent of their responsibility.

  • The Commission may submit proposals for regulations of codes of practice [links to 'regs.doc'] to the Department. In relation to these, the Department may:
    • alter the Commission's proposals for regulations before submitting them to Parliament, although only after consulting the Commission.
    • give or withheld consent to codes of practice which the Commission proposes to approve and issue

  • It may also itself make regulations under the 1974 Act of its own volition, providing that it first consult the Commission and other relevant bodies

  • It may also direct the Commission with respect to its functions.
The Health and Safety Commission has published a document called the "Framework of Accountabilities" that sets out fully the relationships between the:
  • Department for Work and Pensions;
  • Health and Safety Commission;
  • Health and Safety Executive:

If you would like to download it, click here.


Proposed Government Reforms: Revitalising Health and Safety Strategy Statement
In July 1999, the government published a consultation document called "Revitalising Health and Safety". This resulted in the publication of a "Strategy Statement" that contained a number of 'action points'.

To access documents on this, please click here

It was announced in the Queen's speech on 6 December 2000 that the Government was putting together a draft Safety Bill (see press release) to cover a wider range of different workplace and transport safety issues.

According to the DTLR's Web site, it will tackle:

  • Health and safety in the workplace - taking forward a number of proposals from Revitalising Health and Safety;
  • Alcohol and drug use in civil aviation and shipping;
  • Rail safety issues including possible recommendations from Lord Cullen's Inquiry following the Ladbroke Grove (Paddington) rail crash;
  • Road safety - following up the Government's road safety strategy;
  • Port and shipping safety (see press release).

To see a speech given by the Dr Alan Whitehead at a conference in November 2001 organised by the CCA and the TUC on 'Law Enforcement and Corporate Accountability', click here.


CCA and the Government
The CCA has had a number of meeting with the DTLR and the DETR as it was previously named.

  • In early February 2000 the CCA met up with Rt. Hon. Michael Meacher M.P.

    Prior to this the CCA sent a note to the Department. To see a summary of the note, click here. To download it
    click here.


Home -> Research & Briefings -> Government and Regulatory Bodies -> Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions
Page last updated on June 9, 2003