HC Deb 22 November 1951 vol 494 cc700-17

10.2 p.m.

The Minister of National Insurance (Mr. Osbert Peake)

I beg to move, in page 1, line 16, to leave out from "die" to the end of line 16, and to insert: or have died at any time after the thirty-first day of December, nineteen hundred and forty-nine. At the conclusion of the Second Reading debate on the Bill on Friday my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary indicated in his reply that we would do what we could so far as fatal cases are concerned to bring within the scope of the Bill deaths which had occurred before the scheme to be made under the Bill comes into operation. My hon. Friend said: We should like to think again on the question of back-dating for those dependants of a deceased person who died before the commencement of the scheme … How far we can go back must depend on administrative practicability, which must be one of the two criteria by which we look at all the Amendments to this Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1951; Vol. 493, c. 1,393.] The undertaking given by my hon. Friend was made in response to requests from both sides of the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Leather), was the first to suggest that we might back-date the death benefits. He was followed by my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Arbuthnot), and later in the debate the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), suggested that we might be able to date the benefits back for a period of three years.

In pursuant of my hon. Friend's undertaking, I tabled an Amendment as soon as possible—Monday was the first date on which it was possible for me to table an Amendment—which would have taken in all fatal cases arising after 30th June of this year. An Amendment to my Amendment was tabled on the following day by hon. Gentlemen opposite who suggest that from the point of view of the private scheme inaugurated and conducted by the National Union of Mineworkers a more convenient date would be 1st February, 1950.

It appeared after that Amendment had been tabled that the National Union of Mineworkers had actual records of fatal cases of pneumoconiosis which had not qualified either for Workmen's Compensation or for benefits under the Industrial Injuries Insurance Scheme, which had occurred since 1st February, 1950. There has, therefore, been a general request that we should date back the benefits in the fatal cases as far as possible.

After giving careful consideration to the representations made from both sides of the Committee and to what was said to me privately in relation to the scheme conducted by the National Union of Mineworkers, I came to the conclusion that it would be feasible to date these payments back to 1st January, 1950. That will be a period of about two years altogether from the time when the Scheme. I hope, gains the approval of the House.

This is an unusual thing to have done, but I have had some previous experience in this class of matter. When I was at the Home Office and the pneumoconiosis question came in in 1943, we made some provision for the old cases; and similarly when we first legislated regarding byssinosis in 1940.

These are very special cases—they excite the deepest sympathy in all quarters of the Committee—of men who in the course of their employment contract a disease which is quite incurable and may finally lead to their death. We have gone, I think, as far as is administratively possible to provide for the said cases which otherwise would have failed to qualify under the Bill. Wherever one draws the line in a situation of this kind, there are bound to be cases which fall on the wrong side of it. I hope, however, that hon. Members will appreciate that I have gone as far as possible to meet hard cases which can arise under the Bill, and I only hope that there will be no competition between the two sides of the Committee in claiming credit for what is being done.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)

I want to raise one or two points on the Bill, and I do not for a moment want to raise them in a controversial sense. I am rather sorry that some of my colleagues did not rise in the discussion on the Amendment to thank the right hon. Gentleman for an Amendment which we all appreciate and which represents a very definite improvement.

Speaking as a Member for Oldham. I want to put to the right hon. Gentleman the case of byssinosis, which is, of course, precisely the same as the pneumoconiosis case, with which I had to deal as a solicitor in other parts of the country. I should have thought that the desire of the whole Committee in this matter is that we are going to try to provide for the man who is suffering from byssinosis and who is virtually totally incapacitated; in other words, the man who is so seriously and dangerously incapacitated that there can be no hope for him of regular work in the future, and who has not received a lump settlement and is not in receipt of any payment under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act or from Workmen's Compensation.

Let me say at once that the Bill does not do that. I want to raise the matter on two separate grounds, and I commit the indiscretion by saying that one or two sentences may be strictly out of order, Sir Charles, as relating to Clause 2, but I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if I make one speech which covers the point I am making although some of the points arise on Clause 2 (3) as controlling Clause 2 (1).

Let me take the history of this matter so far as byssinosis is concerned. It was settled very late, I think, in about 1940. I remember the long negotiations which went on to try to get it scheduled at all. If we take a look at the history of the dust diseases before the pneumoconiosis boards and various other boards were established, we find that there was the wretched procedure of the certifying surgeon which enabled any insurance company at any time to demand that a man be submitted to a medical examination at 10 days notice.

Indeed, let us face it, they could send him to Dr. Brown one week, Dr. Jones a fortnight later, and Dr. Smith three weeks later, and could go on doing that until they found a doctor who said he had recovered. I am not attacking anyone about this, but it happened and we all know it happened. Then it was referred to the certifying officer who had to examine the man in a quarter of an hour and come to the conclusion whether he was suffering from the disease or not and once he said that the man had not got the disease, normally he had finished his compensation for the rest of his life.

Mr. Tom Brown (Ince)

The medical referee.

Mr. Hale

I am obliged to my hon. Friend, I meant the medical referee. That was the procedure and none of us who have been associated with industrial diseases can fail to recall hundreds of cases of men who came back and said, "I have lost my case and cannot go to arbitration or do anything about it," who subsequently got aggravated symptoms of this disease.

If now, Sir Charles, you will be good enough to look at the clock while I make my suggestion, I think that if paragraph (b) of Clause 2 were submitted to examination the right hon. Gentleman would meet the wishes of the Committee if he amended that paragraph by eliminating the reference to those who had a few weeks worker's compensation but who were subsequently found to be suffering from the disease.

We have three sets of people in Oldham suffering from byssinosis—the man drawing benefit, he does not come in; the man who never got benefit because he got this disease before 1940 and could not qualify, he comes in: and the man who contracted the disease after 1940 and by some legal measures or otherwise ceased to be entitled to compensation of any kind but is as incapacitated as the first two, totally incapacitated and suffering just as much. By the operation of this Clause he will be left out, unless we can devise some reasonable Amendment. I can accept the fact that if he had a lump sum settlement we have to eliminate him. However small, that was the risk he had to take. Sometimes it was a very harsh and cruel risk, but he was wiped off because the theory was that he had settled his case once and for all.

I hope I am making this clear; the right hon. Gentleman looks a little worried. This is what happened in 1941: a man gets the disease and goes to the Board. It does not happen so much in byssinosis cases but in silicosis my hon. Friends would say there were hundreds of cases because it happened before the Board existed and the medical referee would wipe the man off. As luck would have it, byssinosis came in about the same time as the Board was established and there was not much of the old medical procedure. So the silicosis man might have lost the case in 1936 or 1937 when the Board was not established and there was no appeal against the certificate. That is a plain fact which every hon. Member on this side of the Committee will confirm.

Dr. Barnett Stross (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)

Is it not a fact that a man suffering from silicosis can now at any time apply to go before a pneumoconiosis board, because in my view they can?

Mr. Hale

Yes, that is an arguable proposition, but it is very difficult when one has been out of the industry for years, and very few know their rights. It is difficult to take up an old case, and I assure my hon. Friend that there are many people who are now just as much incapacitated from silicosis, or pneumoconiosis, or asbestosis, or byssinosis as the rest, who are not entitled to benefit because of technical clauses and provisions which existed in years gone by. So a modest Amendment to Clause 2 would include everybody who had been totally incapacitated from any of these diseases and who have not benefited.

10.15 p.m.

I wish to say a word about the totally incapacitated, because I am very worried about that term. So far as I know there is no judicial definition of it. So far as I remember there is no definition in the Industrial Injuries Act.

Dr. H. Morgan (Warrington)

There never has been.

Mr. Hale

Therefore I am really worried about how far the judicial interpretation of "totally incapacitated" goes in the intention of this Clause. I am certain that there are good intentions on both sides of the Committee in this matter and that we are working together.

I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, although I have not thought fit to put it down—because I do not want to put down an Amendment which might appear to be a challenge on a matter about which we are substantially agreed—that the real treatment for silicosis or byssinosis is to try to find the sufferers something to do. I see that my right hon. Friend the former Minister of Labour is listening. He has a great record in this matter in connection with trying to find work at home for the people suffering from these diseases. There is nothing more important than finding them something to do, because in the latter stages of this disease there is a sort of settled misery which develops as a result of it and we have to try to find for the sufferer some form of occupation, however slight.

I have had something to do in the past with the sort of interpretation the courts of appeal have put on the Workmen's Compensation Act on total incapacity. It may be interpreted as being totally incapacitated, but that is not really what we mean. What we mean is seriously, permanently incapacitated, with not a reasonable hope of recovery, but still able to perform some limited service and to take on some occupational work. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman would meet the wish of hon. Members on both sides of the Committee if he could on Report stage put some sort of definition which would meet that particular matter.

This is an admirable Bill which we all welcome. In spite of the limited number of people to whom it applies it has given many of us who have been closely associated with these diseases more emotional reaction than many more important things. As a Member for Oldham I must say that there are other industrial diseases; but the dust diseases are in a sense the most chronic and in many ways the most permanent of all. If a man is suffering from miners' nystagmus many of my colleagues will say he can recover from that. But it can bring about a state of nervous disability, and in my experience more suicide cases are associated with miners' nystagmus than with any other disease. If we could bring them in it would be so much the better for Oldham.

There is the other disease, epitheliomatous cancer, or "spinner's cancer" as it is called. It used to be a dreadful scourge in the cotton district. And also Scrothal E.C. which may be found among chimney sweeps and so on. But within the terms of this Financial Resolution we cannot expand the Bill to cover them. I would say with real sincerity the right hon. Gentleman has made a very good start in this matter in the Amendment which he has just moved. It was a generous and considerate Amendment which we all received with gratitude and pleasure. I hope he will take note of this and see that this fairly simple Measure, which has given so much pleasure will be the first of a series of Measures to do justice to all suffering from industrial diseases.

I would say what I said to the House two or three months ago. If one applies the simple test, and here I am dealing with the totally and partially incapacitated, it is: "Have you got an industrial disease and are you to some extent incapacitated by it?" That really is the simple test. And if we dissociate it from all the others, whether there was silica dust there, or whether the man was employed so long in the industry, or exposed to it, what would it cost the country? It would give a real feeling of justice to many people who are suffering at the moment from a very genuine feeling of injustice and dismay at the way they have been treated. It would mean taking them off the National Health benefit and putting them on to the Industrial Injuries benefit. It does not cost very much, and it would cut out the expensive tribunals which deal with these matters, and would save a good deal in that way.

I believe that is the real way of handling industrial diseases. If one contracts silicosis, it does not matter whether one got it in the mines of South Wales or on the sands of the Egyptian desert; one has got it, and one wants benefit and treatment. If we can do this, I believe it would be really worth while.

Dr. Edith Summerskill (Fulham, West)

On behalf of my hon. Friends behind me, I wish to express my thanks to the Minister for the decision he has reached in regard to the first Amendment. We did make private representations, which he received very courteously and sympathetically.

I know that it is not the usual custom to make legislation of this nature retrospective. I have been in the right hon. Gentleman's position, and have been faced with a demand from different hon. Members to make retrospective certain provisions in Bills which I have had the honour of piloting through the House. It has always been recognised that it is necessary to draw the line somewhere. Inevitably, there are some people on one side of that line who are disappointed.

I think the Minister regarded the representations made to him as being based on justice and practicability, and practicability is essential in these cases. After due consideration, he has decided in his wisdom to include this Amendment. I think we all agree that there are exceptions to every rule; he has wisely made an exception this time, and I thank him for it.

Mr. John Arbuthnot (Kent, Dover)

I think we all welcome the way in which the Minister has received the representations made to him from all sides, and particularly the fact that he has found it possible to extend the operation of the Bill in respect of the dependants of people who died after 31st December, 1949.

I would like to refer to the point raised by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), on the question of total incapacity. I was very much worried during the Second Reading debate as to what was the exact definition of total incapacity, and I suggested that something like the growing of cabbages might exclude a person from benefit. In reply, the Parliamentary Secretary was able to assure me that that was not the case, and his words went a long way towards removing my doubts, because he said: I can assure them that it is not a test of earnings. It is purely a test of unemployability, and therefore that factor will not enter into the matter at all, If the men are totally disabled, under the Workmen's Compensation Acts, then it does not matter that they—let them: we hope they will—grow cabbages or have any other pastime they can to help them forget the tragic state they are in."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1951; Vol. 493, c. 1389.] I believe it would be impracticable to divorce this Bill from the Workmen's Compensation Acts in this respect, because this Bill does depend upon the Workmen's Compensation Acts and the conditions which are there laid down for the whole of its definitions and operation.

Mr. Tom Brown

I wish to join with the three previous speakers in expressing our gratitude to the Minister of National Insurance for agreeing to the concession so willingly. He has responded to the plea that so many of us on these benches put forward during the Second Reading debate for widening the scope, and we are extremely grateful to him.

But what brought me to my feet in addition to that was Clause 1 (5), which says: The power to make a scheme under this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument, but the Minister shall not make any such scheme unless a draft of it has been laid before Parliament and approved by resolution of each House. That is a usual Clause in Bills submitted to this House. My plea to the Minister and to the permanent officials of his Department is to make that scheme, or the words of the scheme, or the Regulations, understandable by the ordinary man. I see the right hon. Gentleman is smiling, but we are dealing here with two industries in particular, coal and cotton, and many of these unfortunate persons do not understand the legal jargon often put into Regulations.

I am making a plea now that the Regulation or Statutory Instrument—whatever name one gives it—should be made as simple as possible. I have had some experience in dealing with these Regulations in days gone by, and I always say that they are a cross between a jig-saw puzzle and a crossword puzzle. We wish to avoid that if we can. In pleading with the Minister for this, I know that I am asking for something, but we on these benches always are. As I say, I would ask the Minister to instruct his permanent officials to see that the draft as laid before the House can be understood by the ordinary people in the coal and cotton industries.

Mr. Edwin Leather (Somerset, North)

I will not detain the Committee for more than a minute or two because we had a very thorough discussion on this question on Second Reading. I, like hon. Members in all parts of the Committee, naturally welcome very heartily the Amendment proposed by the Minister to this Clause. However, I feel that it would be wrong to conclude the debate on the Motion before us without making the following observations.

The Parliamentary Secretary dealt at great length with questions put to him, but in my mind there are two points which are certainly not at all clear. That may be due entirely to my inexperience in dealing with these technical matters. Obviously, however, this scheme cannot be brought into force for another two or three months, and during that time all of us, and particularly those hon. Members representing constituencies in which large numbers of people are concerned in this matter, will be receiving letters and interviewing people in our consulting rooms asking for advice, and I am not clear as to where the line has been drawn.

The Parliamentary Secretary told us quite clearly what his definition of "total" was not, but he did not make it clear, at least not to me, what his definition was. I was very glad to receive his assurance that a man who was able, despite his hopeless incapacity, to earn a few shillings here and there "on the side," would be allowed to do so. But I should be grateful if, before we agree to the Clause standing part of the Bill, he would give the Committee a little further guidance as to how he anticipates the line will be drawn.

Secondly, both the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary gave us assurances that the moment this Bill became law and had dealt with these total cases—the worst cases—they would immediately give consideration to the partially disabled, with whom so many of us on all sides of the Committee are vitally concerned.

I think I am right in recalling that both the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary said they would be happy to consider any schemes or ideas put to them from the T.U.C., the N.U.M. or any other source. In the course of my remarks on Second Reading I asked if we could have a clearer idea of what precisely the difficulties were. We were told by the Parliamentary Secretary that the reason why this Clause refers only to the totally disabled was because of the great fear of swamping the medical system, the panels, the experts, and so on.

10.30 p.m.

He did not tell us what was necessary. He states what is possible, but what is necessary to put this defect right? Can he possibly say a little more specifically, and precisely, what more is needed to alter this Clause in the way in which I think all of us would like to alter it? He did not say specifically what were the practical difficulties.

He gave an assurance that steps were being taken to find out the numbers. Could he tell us more about that point, and when the answer is given, will he assure us that he will not leave it entirely to outside bodies to take the initiative, but will press on to deal with the whole sweep of this problem and not just this small—some us may think it quite small—but none the less, very vital part of the problem which this Bill faces?

Mr. Harold Finch (Bedwellty)

I shall not detain the Committee for more than a few minutes, because the various broad aspects of the Bill were discussed at ample length on second reading last Friday. But I would join in thanking those responsible for this Clause for antedating claims by dependants of those who have died from 1st January, 1950. That will bring in quite a large number of widows who have lost their husbands as a result of pneumoconiosis, particularly in the mining industry, dating back to this date. This gesture will be greatly appreciated in the mining districts, and particularly in South Wales where there is such a high incidence of this disease.

Let me assure the Minister that there will be no administrative difficulties in going back to January last year among those in the mining industry, because the miners, out of contributions of a penny a week, have initiated a system whereby they would pay benefits to widows antedated to February, 1950; therefore, as a result of that scheme, all cases of death from pneumoconiosis since then are on record. When a man died, examinations were made, and these records were placed with the medical board. So, there will be no difficulty in this passing this Bill into law in the matter of claims on behalf of widows whose husbands have died from pneumoconiosis in this period.

In conclusion, I should like to emphasise that we have carried this matter another stage forward in getting security for men suffering from pneumoconiosis, and for their dependants. A man totally disabled by the disease is now compensated whether he left the industry in 1939 or 1920, and that is going back many years: even before the original scheme of 1928. Every totally disabled man, or dependant, from a specified industry, is now covered.

That is a great advance, and we are only left, as has been said, with the partial cases. I join with other hon. Members in hoping that that matter will be dealt with as expeditiously as possible; it is under discussion in the T.U.C. and the National Union of Mineworkers, and we shall watch on this side of the Committee for the day when these partially disabled men can be brought into a scheme, and I hope that every step will be taken to cover men in specified industries so that they may get compensation.

Colonel Ralph Clarke (East Grinstead)

I want to support what was said by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown) and plead for the scheme to be drafted as simply as possible. Many of us not versed in the law find it difficult to explain these things to constituents. How much more difficult it is for those who are affected to understand. If it is not possible to make the drafting simpler, could we not have a longer Explanatory Memorandum? Surely that is not beyond the wit of the Parliamentary draftsmen.

Mr. J. D. Murray (Durham, North-West)

I believe that we should give credit where credit is due, and while the right hon. Gentleman is only carrying the policy forward, he has, in fact, been responsible for taking it this step forward. I was pleased to hear the references of the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) to the money that has been paid by the miners themselves from 1st February into the fatal accidents scheme. Their contribution together with that of the National Coal Board has saved the country a great deal more than is known. Those of us on this side who represent the mining industry thank the right hon. Gentleman for putting the date back to 1st January, 1950. He will have brought great happiness to many of the people affected by this Bill.

Dr. Stross

I should like to add my thanks on behalf of many of my constituents, some of whom certainly will be affected by the back-dating of the benefits to the dependants of those who have died within the limit now set. I am under strict instructions from the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) to say on his behalf how grateful he is that the suggestion he and others put forward has been accepted.

On the matter of total incapacity, is it not a matter of fact that these men are not going to appear before the medical boards set up to carry out the 1948 Act, but will go before the pneumoconiosis boards and be assessed in the old way as fit for moderate work, heavy work, light work, or the fourth possibility of total incapacity? In that case, will they not be able to go before arbitration in the county court and be able to prove, say, that light work is not available? That is the tendency now. Here we are dealing with total incapacity. If we are not able to do that in the county court, then I want to put it to the Minister that we must ask for the most liberal interpretation possible of what "totally incapacitated" means.

Mr. Hale

I speak with reluctance, because it is 10 years since I was dealing with the matter on a day-to-day basis, but as far as I understand it, there is no access to the county court at all.

Dr. Stross

If that is the case—and I am sure the Minister will say "Yea" or "Nay" on the point; although I am certain my hon. Friend is right—then we are right in pressing for a very liberal interpretation of what "totally incapacitated" means. I speak for an area in North Staffordshire which has been ravaged by this disease. It affects not only the miners but also the pottery workers. For years we had 50 deaths a year from it, and the average still runs at 40 deaths a year. This is a matter of great importance to us, and I should like an answer to the question which I put.

Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

Like other hon. Members, I am very pleased indeed that this Bill, which had its First reading in the last Parliament, should have been brought forward so quickly by the new Government. It has brought great pleasure to myself and to my colleagues on this side of the Committee, and I think to many hon. Members opposite, and certainly has brought great pleasure to the miners I represent.

One point worries me. As far as I could understand it from the Second Reading of the Bill, the main reason why we are covering only those who are wholly incapacitated is that otherwise there would be such a flooding of the pneumoconiosis medical boards by applicants that it would be very difficult to deal with the cases. From the experience I have had of the miners who come to see me regularly at week-ends, I am afraid that even as the Bill is framed we shall not overcome the difficulty. In many areas a miner is not always completely unfit when he has to leave the pit. In those areas there is little chance of that man finding any employment other than employment inside the mines.

I know from my own village that there are quite a number of men who are waiting until this Bill is on the Statute Book to come forward for examination by the pneumoconiosis medical boards. It may be that quite a number of these men will be found to be 100 per cent. unfit but, on the other hand, it may be that quite a number of them will be classed as 50 per cent. or 60 per cent. unfit, as are those miners who are already covered by the Industrial Injuries Act. In consequence, from the experience I have of cases in my own village and in my constituency, I feel we have not yet overcome this difficulty.

We are very glad indeed of the step forward which has been taken by the Bill. It is bringing justice to a field in which we have felt for a very long time that there has been serious injustice. In view of the consultation which is taking place with the National Union of Mineworkers, in particular, and with the T.U.C., I hope that very soon we shall have a further Bill to take care of those who are partially disabled by pneumoconiosis. One of the great tragedies of this disease, as was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), is that these men feel they are of no further use in life. They become very depressed. If those who are not totally incapacitated could find work in the mining villages that feeling would rapidly disappear.

The hairman

I think the hon. Lady is getting rather wide of the subject under discussion.

Miss Herbison

I am sorry, Sir Charles, but I think that I have made my point. Before sitting down, I will just say again how pleased we are on this side of the Committee that this Bill is soon to go on to the Statute Book.

10.45 p.m.

Sir Edward Boyle (Birmingham, Handsworth)

I should like to support the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown) and the hon. and gallant Member for East Grinstead (Colonel Clarke) in regard to Statutory Instruments promulgated under this Clause being easy to interpret. It has always seemed to me that when a Statutory Instrument is made under a Clause like this it should be easy to operate from the point of view of those who have to work it, and that it should be easily understood and followed by Members of Parliament who may have to consult it and by the ordinary man who will be affected by it.

May I make one suggestion about these Statutory Instruments? Most people do not carry in their heads a very full knowledge of all the Bills which have been passed and all the schemes which have been proposed in the last half century. Therefore, merely to speak in the Explanatory Memorandum about the Industrial Injuries Insurance Act, 1946, may not convey much to the ordinary person. It would be helpful if the types of case were stated. If it could be explained what cases are affected by this legislation it would be more helpful to the ordinary person than a mere reference to Acts of Parliament.

Mr. D. J. Williams (Neath)

May I support the plea made by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown)? I do not know that it is specially necessary to draft the Regulations in language which a layman understands, because most of the people affected by this Bill never read Statutory Regulations. I suggest to the Minister that the Ministry of National Insurance has by this time had wide experience of dealing with this type of case. I know that in regard to all the Regulations of the last five or six years the Ministry has issued at all its offices leaflets in simple language explaining to the recipients what they are entitled to get. I suggest that the Ministry should draft a leaflet explaining the provisions of this Bill and supply it, through all its offices, to the people disabled by pneumoconiosis.

The people who are still in the mining areas do not need this leaflet because they are usually still members of the Miners' Federation. But over the last 25 years large numbers of these people have left the coalfields. In South Wales during the war there was a mass emigration of thousands of miners who have never come back. They are now in London and the Midlands and no longer members of the Miners' Union. They are not in touch with the miners' officials. If they are disabled they are in touch with the Ministry of National Insurance. If at the National Insurance offices they are provided with leaflets explaining what they are entitled to, that will solve the problem raised by the hon. Member for Ince. I think that this would help those who particularly need help, namely, those who have left the mining districts. I hope the Minister will consider the possibility of doing something on these lines.

Mr. Peake

I think I should say a few words now, especially as the Amendment I proposed has been so well received in all parts of the Committee. I am sure it will give general satisfaction throughout the country.

The debate has ranged rather widely on this Clause. In fact, the hon. Member for Oldham West (Mr. Hale) said that he would speak about Clause 2 (1, d) on the Motion that the Clause stand part. I think I had better leave that until we reach Clause 2 and not endeavour to deal with it now. Three hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have stressed the importance of giving publicity to our scheme and of having it explained, if possible, in language which ordinary people can understand. We certainly will take all reasonable steps to publicise the fact that the scheme has come into operation, and we will also publish a leaflet which I will see is in as simple language as possible.

The question has been raised once more with regard to the possible inclusion at a later date of cases of partial incapacity. I did explain the difficulties on the Second Reading. It goes far beyond the question of merely flooding the medical panels which the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) suggested was the main difficulty. There are other formidable difficulties as well, and I cannot go further than repeat the undertaking I gave on Second Reading that we shall give careful consideration to any scheme put forward by any responsible body to deal with cases of partial incapacity. I think hon. Members realise that the difficulties are very formidable and we certainly cannot include such cases in the present Bill.

Questions were also raised about the meaning of the words "total incapacity." My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary explained at the conclusion of the Second Reading debate that this did not mean the same thing as 100 per cent. disability in the industrial injuries scheme. He quoted the words of Lord Loreburn in a Workmen's Compensation case defining total incapacity as "a man who has a physical defect which makes his labour unsaleable in any market reasonably accessible to him."

Mr. Hale

That is surely the "odd lot" definition which does not apply broadly to industrial injuries but only to a special section?

Mr. Peake

I was not saying that it applied to the industrial injuries scheme. I was saying that that was the definition given by Lord Loreburn in a Compensation Case.

Mr. Hale

That is only for the special case of a man who has a very special injury which, because of the peculiar nature of the injury, incapacitates him from employment in the area where he was formerly employed. That is what is called an "odd lot"—one special sort of incapacity.

Mr. Peake

I will not enter into dispute with the hon. Gentleman on Workmen's Compensation law at this stage. I say that the purpose of the Bill is to deal with cases which are time-barred from obtaining Workmen's Compensation. It is to remove the time bars and put these cases into the same position as they would have been if they had rights under Workmen's Compensation. That is the sole purpose of the Bill, and the words must be construed for the purpose of this Bill as they have been in the past under Workmen's Compensation.

The administration of the scheme will be under the Administrative Board set up—under the Act of 1951—by the right hon. Lady the Member for Fulham, West (Dr. E. Summerskill) to administer the Workmen's Compensation (Supplementation) Act, 1951, and by the Medical Board. I think Mr. Paul Sandlands, K.C., is Chairman of the Administrative Board, and all hon. Members can have full confidence that the words will be interpreted in a reasonable way.

I think I have replied to most of the questions, and I suggest that we might now proceed to another Clause.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.