§ 7. Mr. Warbey
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many persons claiming benefit for pneumoconiosis under the Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Acts were examined by pneumoconiosis medical panels in 1952 and 1953, respectively; in how many cases the panels diagnosed the existence of the disease; and the proportion of confirmed diagnoses in each of these years.
§ Mr. Peake
The number of persons claiming benefit for pneumoconiosis under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Acts first examined by the pneumoconiosis medical panels in 1952 was 5,439, and in 1953, 7,123. Of these, 3,472 and 4,648 respectively were found to be suffering from the disease, representing, for each year, about two-thirds of the number examined.
§ Mr. Warbey
I wonder whether the Minister can explain how it is that in the case of the Sheffield pneumoconiosis panel there has been a marked fall in the proportion of claims accepted by the panel in 1953 when compared with the proportion in 1952? Would he look into this matter to see whether there is any difference in the criteria of diagnosis between one panel and another? When men go before the panel their own doctors have in nearly every case diagnosed the 875 existence of the disease, and it is a surprise when they are not given the benefit of the doubt by the panel.
§ Mr. Peake
I think it is a matter for satisfaction that the proportion found to be suffering from the disease in Sheffield is, on the whole, smaller than it is throughout the country, but I will certainly look into the points which the hon. Member made. I think he should bear in mind that pneumoconiosis covers a very wide number of different types of disease and that the types which come before the Sheffield panel are not necessarily the same as those which come before panels in other parts of the country.