HC Deb 30 June 1952 vol 503 cc13-5
19. Mr. J. T. Price

asked the Minister of National Insurance if he is aware of the disquiet amongst insured contributors in certain occupations arising from the failure to schedule Reynaud's disease within the terms of the Industrial Injuries Act and the anomalies created by conflicting decisions of the High Court in such cases; and if he will take action to schedule this disease.

Mr. Peake

As the hon. Member knows, the question whether this disease should be prescribed was referred by my predecessor to the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council for consideration, and I am awaiting their report.

Mr. Price

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the present law affecting these cases has given rise to quite serious injustices to many people who have been disabled in the course of their employment? Is he further aware that common law judgments are being applied as principles in the settlement of some of these cases by the Commissioners? May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, further, if he is also aware that, as recently as last week, Sir Vincent Tewson, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, informed me that, in his view, the delay in getting these claims properly investigated is quite unjustifiable, and will he bring all the pressure he can upon the appropriate committee to bring forward their report and get these cases settled?

Mr. Peake

I think the hon. Member has been informed that this is a very technical question. These cases are referred to the Industrial Diseases Sub-Committee of the Advisory Council, and they are in touch with the Medical Research Council on some of the medical questions which arise. They will, in due course, receive the advice of the Medical Research Council, and that, no doubt, will enable them to make a recommendation to me one way or the other.

Mr. J. Griffiths

While appreciating that the Minister must await the recommendations of the Committee on whether the disease is to be scheduled as an industrial disease under the Act, since a decision was given under workmen's compensation legislation that the disease is due to an accident arising out of the course of employment, do I gather from the Minister's answer that the Ministry will now accept it as an accident, pending the review of the question which is being made by the Committee?

Mr. Peake

There was one case under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1946, before the Court of Appeal, and another case before the House of Lords, on which a rather different decision was reached, in 1948. I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the decided cases, but I am bound by the decision of the Commissioners under the Industrial Injuries Act, which decided that this disease did not fall within the terms of the Schedule.

Mr. Griffiths

This is rather an important point. Do I gather that the question of what is and what is not an accident is to be within the power of the Commissioners under the Industrial Injuries Act, to offset and render nought a decision of the House of Lords on a material point under the workmen's compensation provisions?

Mr. Peake

I think the right hon. Gentleman should refer to the actual cases of 1946 and 1948, which are, to some extent, in conflict.

Forward to