HC Deb 20 April 1939 vol 346 cc489-91
37. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when and to what extent he is proposing to revise the regulations dealing with silicosis; and will he also consider chang- ing the three-years rule and make a statement on the whole matter?

Mr. Lloyd

As regards the first part of the question, my right hon. Friend understands that the hon. Member is referring to the proposals for extending the requirement of periodic medical examinations to additional processes in the pottery industry. The employers have asked for an opportunity to discuss several points in connection with these proposals and an interview has been arranged to take place very shortly. As regards the three years' limit, a draft order extending the three years to five years has been prepared, and my right hon. Friend has asked the National Federation of Employers' Organisations and the General Council of the Trades Union Congress to furnish him with their observations upon it. My right hon. Friend expects to be in a position to make a decision on these questions at an early date.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Is it proposed to consider in the meantime the fact, that is not disputed, that the disease takes 10, 15, or 20 years to develop to the stage where it disables the worker, and would the hon. Gentleman consider the desirability of removing the three-year limit without consulting any other body?

Mr. Lloyd

According to our calculations some 85 per cent. of the hard cases with which the hon. Member and the House are familiar will be dealt with by this extension to five years, but my right hon. Friend feels that the whole question should be examined by the Royal Commission before there is a more drastic extension.

Mr. Griffiths

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the 15 per cent. which, it is admitted, will be left outside, are entitled to consideration?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, Sir, I said they were entitled to consideration, but to extend the period beyond five years raises further difficult questions which my right hon. Friend feels should have thorough examination by the Royal Commission.

41. Mr. J. Griffiths

asked the Home Secretary whether he will cause an investigation to be made into the incidence of silicosis among the slateminers and quarrymen in the Festiniog district in North Wales with a view to bringing them within the scope of the Various Industries Silicosis Schemes?

Mr. Lloyd

The incidence of silicosis amongst slate miners and quarrymen in the Festiniog area has recently been the subject of investigation by one of the officers of the Welsh National Memorial Association, and inquiry has also been made, through the Mines Department and the Geological Survey, into the nature of the rocks encountered in this district. The results seem to indicate that, in this area at any rate, the men are exposed to some risk, and that cases of silicosis have occurred. My right hon. Friend has reason to think that the terms of the existing Scheme are probably wide enough to cover such cases, but he is having a memorandum prepared showing the actual position, and proposes to consult the Joint Industrial Council for the Industry in regard to the desirability of some further provision in the Scheme.