HC Deb 04 April 1960 vol 621 cc27-8
7. Dr. Stross

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many cases of pneumoconiosis have been diagnosed by the pneumoconiosis board in Stoke-on-Trent for the years 1956, 1957, 1958, and 1959.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. W. M. F. Vane)

The numbers of cases of pneumoconiosis found by the Stoke-on-Trent panel during the calendar years 1956, 1957, 1958 were 1,436, 1,267 and 516, respectively. During the nine months ending September, 1959, the latest date for which figures are available, 170 cases were diagnosed. Since the area served by the Stoke-on-Trent Panel was reduced, when a new Panel was opened at Birmingham in March, 1958, the figures for 1958 and 1959 are not comparable with those for previous years.

Dr. Stross

Would it be true to say that in the last two years there has been a very sharp decline in the number of cases of pneumoconiosis diagnosed? Is it also true to say that mass X-ray, to which three out of every four adults in Stoke-on-Trent have subjected themselves, has contributed in case finding and thus to this very sharp fall in the total number?

Mr. Vane

I think that that is so. After an intensive campaign, such as that to which the hon. Member has referred, it is understandable that there would first be a rise in the number of cases diagnosed and thereafter a fall.

Mr. T. Brown

Is the Joint Parliamentary Secretary satisfied with the methods adopted at pneumoconiosis and silicosis panels in examining men? We are getting various complaints that men are not being examined as they should be. Will the hon. Member make some inquiries about the methods adopted in the examination of these men? In the cases reported, men have not been two minutes in the examination room before being declared not to be sufferers from this disease.

Mr. Vane

I am sure that, in general, the medical examinations are all that they ought to be, but if the hon. Member has any particular cases which he would like me to look into, I hope that he will let me have them.

Mr. Brown

It is the duty of the Department to make inquiries when complaints have been made either from this side or from that side of the House. The Department knows very well that these complaints are being made very regularly.