GOVERNMENT plans to publish a new offence of corporate manslaughter in a draft Bill drew a sceptical response yesterday.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said there was "great public concern at the criminal law's lack of success in convicting companies of manslaughter" and that a timetable for legislation would be published this autumn. But he said the criminal liability of company directors would not be targeted by the legislation.

Safety campaigners, lawyers and unions accused the Government of failing to act quickly enough. Others gave a more positive response.

Campaigning lawyer Louise Christian, who has represented families bereaved by recent rail crashes, said the Government had had six years to sort something out.

She said: "I fear that all this will not lead to any increase in accountability by companies.

"The Government's announcement is very woolly and very weak. In this case, the wheels are not moving very quickly and they don't seem to be going in the right direction."

Anne Jones, who has campaigned for the change since her son, Simon, was killed on his first day at work in Shoreham Docks in 1998, was also sceptical.

"When I hear that the Government say they intend to enact the Bill, they said that five years ago," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.