HC Deb 21 May 1962 vol 660 cc5-6
3. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the growing concern within the city of Stoke-on-Trent about the number of people who die from pneumoconiosis and from other causes aggravated by pneumoconiosis, and that 80 people have died of the disease this year; what action he has taken since the joint conference held in the Town Hall at which his Department was represented; and what further action he intends to take.

Mr. Green

There has been an encouraging decline in the numbers of new cases, but I share the continuing concern at the incidence of pneumoconiosis amongst pottery workers. An expanded programme of research into means of reducing the dust hazard is being undertaken by the British Ceramic Research Association, grant-aided by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The Joint Standing Committee for the Pottery Industry under the Chairmanship of H.M. Superintending Inspector of Factories, which includes representatives of both sides of the industry and of the Research Association, considers results of research as they emerge and has already recommended to all firms in the industry a number of specific measures for controlling dust. Continuing attention to high standards of workshop practice remains of fundamental importance in combating the dust hazard.

Mr. Ellis Smith

While I appreciate that sympathetic reply, might I ask whether the Minister is aware that in this area we suffer relatively more than any other area because there we have affected by this disease not only miners but pottery and foundry workers? Is he aware that in view of the cumulative effect of these three industries, as a result of which a serious situation exists in the area, great concern is being expressed? Will the hon. Gentleman now carry his sympathy a step further by asking his officials to organise a similar conference so that all Government Departments can pool their ideas and experiences in an effort to minimise the seriousness of this matter?

Mr. Green

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's concern. I will certainly consider his suggestion. I would at the same time draw his attention to the fact a great deal of research is being carried out into this problem.