HC Deb 20 July 1936 vol 315 cc36-8
68. Mr. REMER

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the position as to the Sandstone Industry Compensation Fund; whether he is aware that in the Macclesfield and Bollington district new levies came into operation on 1st July, making the levy to this fund 1s. as against 7d. previously; that the abandonment of the flat rate and the placing of some districts on a lower rate and some on a higher rate creates unfair conditions of competition in the same stone; and whether he will take immediate steps to see that this levy is put back again on a flat rate?


This fund is administered by a company of which all the employers in the industry are members, and it is the duty of the company to fix, subject to my right hon. Friend's approval, the rates of levy to be paid by the members to enable the fund to meet its liabilities. The rates hitherto have varied according to the occupations of the workmen on whose wages they were payable, but, various objections having been raised to this method, the management committee have worked out a new scheme based on a flat rate of levy for each district fixed in the light of the experience of compensation claims in that district over the past six years. This scheme was submitted to the members, and objections considered, and as it appeared to be generally acceptable, my right hon. Friend has agreed to allow it to be tried, as from the beginning of this month, subject to it being reviewed at the end of 1937. As regards the Macclesfield and Bollington district, the relatively high rate is based on the serious incidence of the disease which has been found to occur in this area, and it does not seem unreasonable that where conditions of working are relatively dangerous the rate of levy should be relatively high.


Is my hon. Friend aware that many of these workpeople are roving workpeople, who pass from one quarry to another; that the employers have no control whatever over these workpeople; and that, therefore, this is a very serious charge on the quarry owners in the Macclesfield and Bollington area, in favour of their direct competitors; and will he reconsider the matter?


I do not think that what my hon. Friend has said affects the fact that the rate of incidence of the disease in that particular area is very high.


Is my hon. Friend aware that the disease is not prevalent in my constituency, and that the people concerned in that neighbourhood will resent it very much if the rate of the levy is raised; and will he, in considering this matter, consider raising the levy only where the disease is prevalent, and not where it is not prevalent?


I beg to give notice that I shall refer to this matter on the Adjournment.