HC Deb 04 February 1963 vol 671 cc1-3
1. Mr. Dugdale

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is satisfied that he has an adequate number of factory inspectors to perform the new duties recently laid upon them under the Construction (General Provisions) Regulations, 1961; how many factory inspectors there are; how many persons are employed in the section of his department which controls them; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. John Hare)

The increase of 34 factory inspector posts which I authorised just over a year ago was principally to strengthen inspection of the construction industries. In the past year we recruited 43 new entrants and achieved a net increase of 20 in the branch. As these new entrants become effective, inspection of the construction industries will be further improved. A total of 450 inspectors are at present in post. Control of the Inspectorate is exercised by the Chief Inspector, who is assisted by four deputies. Each of the specialist branches is in charge of a senior specialist inspector. Outside headquarters control is exercised by the superintending inspectors of the 14 divisions and the district inspectors of the 97 districts.

Mr. Dugdale

Is the Minister really of the opinion that the addition of about 30—or, possibly, 40 at the most—will provide enough inspectors to deal with the whole of the 1961 Regulations, including the inspection of canals, roads, bridges, pipelines, viaducts, aqueducts and a great many others? Is not there a great deal to be inspected? Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the number of people who are in the head office, inspecting the inspectors and controlling them, is not excessive, because my information is that it is?

Mr. Hare

I disagree with the last part of the right hon. Member's question. It is essential that we have a corps of inspectors at the centre who are able to coordinate the activities of those outside and are available, of course, to be called in to assist the work of those who are working in the districts.

Mr. Prentice

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that when the Offices and Shops Bill becomes law there will be need for a further increase in the number of inspectors in relation to that legislation, which will lay a great deal of extra duty on them? Is the Minister aware that most of my hon. Friends think that the Inspectorate is too small at present, and is not a drastic revision in all parts of the Inspectorate required immediately?

Mr. Hare

We have had a number of discussions on this matter. I think it is fair for me to say that I have considerably increased the number of inspectors, and, quite clearly, when the Offices and Shops Bill becomes law, we shall have to look at the additional calls which will be put on the Inspectorate.