HC Deb 23 November 1960 vol 630 cc1122-3
30. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Labour if he will take urgent action in the City of Stoke-on-Trent to eliminate pneumoconiosis from the pottery and mining industries; whether he will make available in the district increased temporary assistance for the factory inspector; when he expects that there will be complete dust control; whether he will introduce a safe code of practice and ensure its urgent application; and what further action he will take in this connection.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. John Hare)

I and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power share the hon. Member's concern to eliminate dusty conditions which may cause pneumoconiosis. All potteries in the Stoke district were specially surveyed by the Factory Inspectorate between 1956 and 1958 and the report of the survey was published in 1959. The problems to which the report drew attention are being dealt with by a special committee on which both sides of the industry are represented. Special regulations already exist dealing with the dust hazards in the industry. The allocation of inspectors between different districts is regularly reviewed. An additional officer is being attached to the Wolverhampton Divisional Office which covers the Stoke area.

Mr. Ellis Smith

While casting no reflections upon the present Minister, may I ask whether he is aware that I have had similar Answers for many years? Has not the time arrived when some sense of urgency should be introduced into this problem in order to prevent this needless suffering? Has he seen the very serious observations made by the city coroner to the effect that a large number of the deaths from congested heart failure had been contributed to by silicosis? If so, will he give an undertaking that a sense of urgency will be introduced and that there will be a great drive to deal with this problem?

Mr. Hare

I have every sympathy with the hon. Member, but I think that it is unfair of him to say that little or nothing has been done. A great deal of work has been done, as he must know from having read the survey report. We are not complacent. A great deal more work needs to be done and we shall press on to the best of our ability.