HC Deb 06 November 1961 vol 648 cc619-20
48. Mr. Elwyn Jones

asked the Minister of Labour what special steps are being taken to reduce the incidence of industrial accidents, particularly to young persons, in view of the increase in such accidents during 1960.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. John Hare)

It is essential that all concerned in industry should review their policy and activities on accident prevention. To this end I have recently written to employers' associations in a number of industries. Last month I called and addressed a conference in Newcastle, attended by both sides of the shipbuilding and ship-repairing industry. Action is being taken to follow-up this successful conference. I shall shortly be discussing further lines of action with the B.E.C. and T.U.C. and in so doing will pay particular attention to accidents to young persons and the need for improved training and supervision of new entrants. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Education recently drew the attention of local education authorities and principals of technical colleges to the importance of safety training in schools and colleges.

Mr. Elwyn Jones

Are not the figures for 1960 very disturbing? Is it not desirable to review the adequacy of the Factory Inspectorate and also the conditions relating to safety committees in factories and their machinery of operation?

Mr. Hare

The hon. and learned Gentleman is quite right. The accident figures last year were extremely disturbing. I think it is not merely a question necessarily of increasing the number of inspectors. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman knows that between 1956 and 1960 the establishment of the Inspectorate rose by 16 per cent. While the inspectors' visits have an important part to play in accident prevention, I must emphasise, and I hope that hon. Members on both sides will emphasise, the even greater importance of urgent action by industry itself.

Mr. Lee

Would not the right. hon. Gentleman agree that, although the Inspectorate has increased, it is still not anything like adequate to the requirements we now have in mind? In other words, we are still quite unable to get an Inspectorate visit once per annum. Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether any examination is taking place of the incidence of these accidents and into what are the causes, and will he stress that when apprentices are being taught the basis of their crafts safety is one of the things most prominently inculcated?

Mr. Hare

Again, I agree with what the hon. Gentleman says at the end of his supplementary question, but I think that if he reads the Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories he will see the very large number of points involved and that 65 per cent. of all the accidents have causes such as falling, tripping up, and so on, which are really due, perhaps, to carelessness and lack of safety consciousness among people in industry themselves. I think that that is the thing we have got to get over.