HC Deb 20 March 1961 vol 637 cc31-2
68 and 69. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Labour (1) when he issued the memorandum to certain professional bodies in connection with the Bill the Government intends to introduce dealing with health, safety, and welfare in shops and offices; and when this Bill will be introduced;

(2) on what date he proposes to issue regulations implementing the Offices Act, 1960.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. John Hare)

The memorandum was first issued on 22nd December, 1960. It is intended to introduce the Bill in the next Session of Parliament, before the Offices Act, 1960, comes into force on 1st January, 1962. It is not intended to make regulations under the powers in that Act.

Mr. Edelman

While welcoming the intention to introduce the Bill, will the right hon. Gentleman explain why the professional bodies have been kept informed of the progress of the Bill whereas the House has been kept in total ignorance?

Mr. Hare

I am sure the House will agree that there is a great deal of detail, information and consultation required before it would be fitting to consult the House. In fact, 81 representative organisations were originally contacted and a further 39 since then. Before the House discusses this matter, I think it will be obviously right for my Ministry to see that all the interests affected are given a chance of representing their views.

Mr. Jeger

Will the right hon. Gentleman take note of the particulars which have been issued by Actors Equity about backstage conditions in a large number of theatres in London and the provinces, and will he include provisions for imple- menting suggestions which they have made with regard to health and sanitary arrangements which need improving?

Mr. Hare

I have naturally followed this with very considerable interest. It is a very difficult question as the hon. Gentleman knows. The Gowers Committee has made that perfectly clear. I hope that this legislation, when it is produced to the House, will be effective. I must add that it seems to me that there are considerable difficulties in following the lines suggested by the hon. Gentleman, especially in view of the very frank admission of the difficulties by the Gowers Committee.

Mrs. Braddock

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether the fire authorities throughout the country have had this memorandum and whether they have been asked for their suggestions about fire prevention in relation to this legislation that is anticipated?

Mr. Hare

Yes, I can tell the hon. Lady that the fire authorities are being consulted, and naturally I shall listen to all the representations that they make to me.

Mr. Marsh

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us why, in this new legislation, of which I am sure we are all pleased to hear, he has not included hospital staff in addition to shop and office staff, since these represent the next largest batch of people uncovered by regulations? Further, if he is not going to implement the regulations under the Offices Act, 1960, will he tell us when he intends to make regulations under his new legislation, since much of that legislation must also depend upon regulations?

Mr. Hare

In answer to the last part of the supplementary question, I hope the hon. Gentleman will agree that there would be no point in making regulations under the Offices Act when, in fact, comprehensive legislation is on its way. I think the hon. Gentleman would certainly agree with that. I take note of what he said but, as I have already said, I hope that we can make this legislation effective and practical and I think it would be unwise to bite off more than we can digest.