§ 10. Mr. Ellis Smith
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satised that a complete investigation is made of all suspected cases of silicosis; and whether it is the intention of the Government to consider the need for an extension of workmen's compensation to all cases wherever contracted in industry?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)
The Home Office has always recognised the importance of taking special steps to ensure that no process likely to give rise to silicosis is overlooked, and it is the practice of the medical inspectors of factories to make careful inquiries into cases of suspected silicosis alleged to be due to any process not now covered by a compensation scheme. If evidence were forthcoming to show that the disease is 2154 being contracted in some process not already covered, my right hon. Friend would certainly consider a prompt extension of the scheme.
§ Mr. E. Smith
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the fact that it is most difficult to diagnose some of these cases? There have been two cases in my division, in which death was attributed to pneumonia, but, owing to the coroner deciding to have a post-mortem examination, it was afterwards diagnosed as being due to silicosis. Will he reconsider this in view of other evidence?
§ 11. Mr. Smith
asked the Home Secretary what action has been taken to carry out the promises made during the debates on the Factories Bill to the hon. Member for Stoke in relation to silicosis; and what action has been taken since the Factories Act, 1937, became an Act of Parliament?
§ Mr. Lloyd
Since my reply to the hon. Member's question on 2nd December last, the question of extending the arrangements for periodic medical examination to additional processes in the pottery industry has been under further consideration in consultation with representatives of the employers and workers. Both sides have made suggestions which involve difficult issues, and my right hon. Friend is now considering what should be the next step.
§ Mr. Lloyd
The letter to which the hon. Member refers explained the present arrangements for investigating suspected cases of silicosis; and for the reasons indicated in the letter the arrangements are in my right hon. Friend's view more appropriate and effective for the purpose in view than the suggested extension of the functions of the Medical Board.
§ Mr. E. Smith
If further evidence can be produced to show that the functions of the Silicosis Medical Board are too limited, will the Under-Secretary draw the attention of his right hon. Friend to the need for giving them further powers?