This week the government chose to slope into the shadows rather than face universal criticism of its proposals to change how health and safety legislation is applied to self-employed workers.

Clause 1 of the Deregulation Bill would see self-employed people, except those in certain occupations, become exempted from the vital health and safety legislation that is designed to keep them safe.

In a House of Lords debate this week, the Labour Party was seeking to table its amendments to the Bill. However, trotting out the pathetic excuse that it needed more time to consider the outcome of the consultation (which concluded way back in August 2014) the government opted to move the debate to another day.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady has called the Bill “one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation that has ever come before the House of Lords.”

Tom Jones, head of policy at Thompsons Solicitors, commented: “This is a case of the government being unable to face up to the overwhelming opposition - including from groups it usually calls friends – to its ridiculed proposals.

“The government’s own consultation results show that groups representing both employers and workers reject these ill-thought-through and dangerous changes. Even Professor Lofstedt, whose name the government relies upon to justify its ongoing ideological broadside on health and safety, has stated that these latest proposals might actually increase the risk of injury and death in the workplace.

“Given the strength of opposition, rather than waste more civil service and parliamentary time the government should do the decent thing and withdraw their proposals.”