HC Deb 03 February 1958 vol 581 cc808-9
52. Mr. Prentice

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many claims for benefit under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act were made during 1957 for bronchitis and emphysema; and how many of these claims succeeded.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I regret that this information is not available. Bronchitis and emphysema are not of course prescribed diseases under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act.

Mr. Prentice

Although detailed information is not available, would not the Minister agree that there are many cases in which these chest diseases are caused by conditions of work, particularly in the case of people who come in contact with dust or damp, but that the vast majority of applications must be refused unless the disease has somehow or other been caused by accident? In those circumstances, would the Minister consider introducing regulations for the prescribing of these diseases?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I doubt whether, in fact, even though I wished to do so, the introduction of such regulations would be intra vires, since Section 55 of the Act makes it clear that diseases to be prescribed must not be diseases which involve a risk common to the community as a whole.

Mr. J. Griffiths

May I ask the Minister whether he is aware of the opinion among medical people of experience in the coal mining areas, for example, that the borderline between pneumoconiosis and emphysema has become so thin that it is likely that mistakes are made in the diagnosis? In view of experience after the last 10 years in the administration of the scheme, does the Minister not consider that there should be another inquiry, preferably by the Medical Research Council, into the criteria used to determine what is pneumoconiosis, with particular regard to emphysema?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, research into pneumoconiosis is going on the whole time, particularly at the fine establishment run by the Medical Research Council at Llandough. I will bear in mind the suggestion, but I am doubtful whether that form of inquiry would be useful.

Dr. Summerskill

Is it not a fact that these conditions are related to the dusty atmosphere in which people work? Can the Minister say, on the latest reports available, what are the possibilities of scheduling these diseases?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Perhaps the right hon. Lady would put down a Question.

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