Health and Safety Minister Alan Whitehead has promised the government will not abandon corporate killing legislation.

Last week, Labour and Conservative backbenchers called for stricter controls on dangerous employers. In a House of Commons debate, Tory MP Tony Baldry backed the TUC's campaign for all workplace deaths to be treated as manslaughter unless proven otherwise.

He said the well-publicised death of Simon Jones at the Shoreham Docks and the following acquittal of his employer James Martell made clear there were fundamental failures in the law on workplace safety.

Labour MP Rob Marris sought assurances that more attention would be paid to preventing and investigating workplace deaths.

Whitehead said: "We envisage that the introduction of the new offence will encourage companies that have so far failed to do so to take their health and safety responsibilities much more seriously."