HC Deb 30 May 1960 vol 624 cc988-9
31. Dr. Stross

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he is aware of the disadvantage suffered by miners Who are examined before entering the industry and declared fit for work in it but after 10 years suffer pulmonary disability for bronchospasm, chronic bronchitis, emphysema or asthma, and are not entitled to benefit in the same way as cotton operatives who contract byssinosis; and if he will take steps to rectify this anomaly.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Before a disease can be prescribed under the Industrial Injuries Act, the conditions laid down in Section 55 (2) of the Act have to be satisfied. Unlike the other respiratory diseases mentioned, byssinosis is not common to the population at large, and research has established that the conditions in Section 55 (2) are satisfied for it in respect of certain cotton operatives. Present medical knowledge would not justify prescription of the other respiratory conditions for miners.

Dr. Stross

Would not the Minister agree that byssinosis differs only in origin from pneumoconiosis in coal miners in that the dust inhaled is dust of vegetable origin; that many miners suffer from what, amongst them, is called miners' emphysema—and what is called among medical men, too, miners' emphysema—that they also get bronchitis and bronchospasm without any appearances on X-ray, exactly as in byssinosis, which is not diagnosed by X-ray? Will he not, at least in the case of the miners examined before coming into work and declared fit, give them the same benefit?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The difficulty is that I am bound by Section 55 of the Act, which lays down that we can deal in this way only with complaints that are a risk of the occupation and are not common to all persons. The hon. Gentleman will know very well that the complaints to which he has just referred are very far from being confined to one occupation.

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