HC Deb 26 February 1958 vol 583 cc357-8
24. Mr. Prentice

asked the Minister of Labour why fines imposed under Section 133 of the Factories Act, 1937, have been paid over to the injured workmen in only 26 cases since the beginning of 1953, although there have been about 1,800 successful prosecutions under this section during the same period; and whether he will arrange for the section to be interpreted more liberally.

Mr. Carr

These were the only cases in which my right hon. Friend considered an award of fine justified. As the hon. Member will appreciate, the cases in which such awards are justified have greatly diminished in recent years as the result of changes in the law relating to industrial injuries benefits and civil damages.

Mr. Prentice

Will the Minister recognise that, despite the changes to which he referred, there is still a considerable gap between the rate of benefit a man will be receiving under the Industrial Injuries Act and the wages to which he has become accustomed; and that, even though he may expect to be compensated for the effects of the accident, very often there is a delay of up to two years or more before the matter is settled? Is he aware that during that period he faces real hardship and worry, at a time when the award of a fine of, say, £20 would be a very great help? Further, would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the intention of this Section was that the Secretary of State should watch these events over a wider field? Will he look at the matter again?

Mr. Carr

The main purpose of the Section in modern conditions is to enable the courts to impose a more severe penalty for the breach of the law which has resulted in the injury. The other purpose has become less important, owing to the changes in industrial compensation to which I have referred. As the hon. Member will be aware, a similar provision which used to be in the coal mines legislation, was repealed by the Mines and Quarries Act, 1954. We give consideration and make grants where we consider that it is necessary.