HC Deb 11 March 1943 vol 387 cc844-6
23. Mr. Bernard Taylor

asked the Home Secretary whether he will inquire into the case of Mr. J. T. Thorpe, of Portland Row, Selston, Nottinghamshire, who was examined by Dr. Airey, of Leicester, on 17th February, 1943, for dermatitis and was certified as not suffering from the scheduled disease, while two medical reports given by two doctors say the man is suffering from dermatitis; and, in view of these conflicting decisions, whether he will ascertain on what grounds the medical referee refused the workman a certificate?

Mr. H. Morrison

I have made inquiries, and am advised that Mr. Thorpe's case has been referred to the Medical Referee on two occasions—on 22nd September, 1942, and 17th February, 1943. On both occasions the medical referee found that he was suffering from a constitutional form of dermatitis, and not from the scheduled disease, which is dermatitis produced by dust or liquids. While medical referees take into consideration any medical reports submitted, they are in no way bound by these reports, and necessarily base their decisions on their, own personal examinations of the workmen. In this case I cannot find, from the information which my hon. Friend has kindly sent me, that the reports of the two doctors to whom he refers conflicted on the fundamental point with the decision of the medical referee.

24. Mr. Henry White

asked the Home Secretary how many cases during the last six months from the counties of Nottingham and Derby have been referred to Dr. Airey as a medical referee on dermatitis from the mining industry; and the number that have been rejected as non-occupational?

Mr. Morrison

The number of cases for the six months ending December, 1942, was 129, in 106 of which the decision was against the workman. The returns do not show how many of these cases were from the mining industry.

25. Mr. White

asked the Home Secretary why representatives of the miners concerned are expected to provide data as to the velocity of the air; to give reasons why others working under similar conditions are not so affected; why suggestions are also made that they ought to be able to provide an analysis of the water prevalent at the colliery; and whether he will put an end to this sort of question?

Mr. Morrison

I understand from my hon. Friend that the questions referred to are alleged to have been put by the medical referee. I am making inquiries, and will communicate with my hon. Friend.

Mr. Silverman

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that in the rare cases where you have a really unsuitable medical referee, the Workmen's Compensation Act gives no appeal from the referee, and there is no means of testing his good faith? Could some temporary amendment of the Act, to deal with that situation, be considered?

Mr. Morrison

If the medical referee is unsatisfactory—and it would not be fair for me to admit that he is in this case——

Mr. Silverman

I do not say that he is.

Mr. Morrison

—I could take steps to deal with him.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Does my right hon. Friend not agree that the whole workmen's compensation scheme ought to be recast?

Mr. Morrison

I made observations to that effect in the historic Debate on the Beveridge Report.

Mr. H. White

Will my right hon. Friend consider whether something can be done in these two cases?

Mr. Morrison

I will consider what I can do.