HC Deb 08 April 1937 vol 322 cc344-5
54. Mr. J. Griffiths

asked the Lord President of the Council what progress has been made by the Medical Research Council in their investigations into the problem of silicosis, and other lung diseases, among coal miners; and whether he can give any indication as to when the committee's investigation will be completed?

Mr. R. MacDonald

The standing committee appointed by the Medical Research Council to direct research into disease of the lungs among industrial workers has already promoted several investigations into silicosis and other conditions; the results have been published in a series of official reports and scientific papers. These researches were in most cases not specially directed to the particular problem of lung disease among coal miners, but during recent months attention has been concentrated on this, and a scheme of intensive investigation in South Wales has been initiated. The work already done shows the problem to be one of great difficulty and complexity, and the investigation is not likely to be completed in less than two years.

Mr. Griffiths

Is the Lord President aware that increasing numbers of men are being disabled from continuing their employment because of lung disease contracted in their employment and are becoming chargeable to public funds when they ought to be drawing compensation from their employers; and, in view of that, can we press that there should be a completion of this investigation in much less time than two years?

Mr. MacDonald

The hon. Member can rely upon it that, so far as pressure is concerned, it will be exerted, but these are very delicate and difficult scientific investigations, and the worst thing we can do if we want to get a real, good, sound conclusion is to press them too hard. We have already increased the staff of assistants engaged in this work.

Mr. E. Smith

Has the right hon. Gentleman read the report to the Lord President which has just been prepared by the Medical Advisory Council, and, if so, will he consult with the Home Secretary in order that we can have the best possible clauses placed in the Factories Bill in order to deal with this question?

Mr. J. Griffiths

I beg to give notice that, in view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply and the position of the men who are affected, I will raise this matter at the earliest opportunity.

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