HC Deb 26 January 1960 vol 616 cc36-7
Sir S. Storey

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Labour if he will make a statement about the accident which occurred on Wednesday, 30th December, 1959, upon the new high level Barton Bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Edward Heath)

Yes, Sir. Four steel girders of this bridge collapsed while it was under construction, killing two men and injuring eight. I am sure that the House will wish to join with me in extending our sympathy to all those involved, and particularly to the families and relatives of the two men killed.

The circumstances of the accident were investigated at once by members of the Factory Inspectorate, who are also attending on my behalf the inquest at present being held. I am sure the House will feel it desirable for me to postpone making any statement until the inquest is completed.

Sir S. Storey

While thanking the Minister for his expression of sympathy, and appreciating his desire to postpone making any further statement till the inquest has been completed, may I ask him whether, as this is the third fatal accident which has occurred in the construction of this bridge and the approach roads, he is satisfied that Lancashire County Council exercises sufficient supervision over the safety arrangements of its contractors and sub-contractors?

Mr. Heath

I should like to consider that point in the light of the evidence given at the inquest.

Mr. Robens

I should like to join this side of the House in the expression of sympathy extended to the families and relatives of the men who have been killed.

May I ask the Minister, however, whether he would undertake to publish the report of the Factory Inspectorate immediately after the inquest rather than wait for the Inspectorate's annual report, in which it would normally appear?

As the number of workmen now being killed week by week on projects of this kind is rising alarmingly, it would be as well, would it not, if we could have this accident reported upon in full by the Inspectorate after the inquest so that we might decide whether a debate would be desirable upon the whole question of regulations dealing with safety in new building programmes?

Mr. Heath

I will certainly give consideration to the point made by the right hon. Gentleman.