HC Deb 17 June 1963 vol 679 cc14-5
20. Mr. Prentice

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will introduce legislation to repeal Section 7(3) of the Industrial Injuries Act, which provides that benefit is not payable for accidents occurring outside Great Britain, in view of the breach made in this principle by the large number of bilateral agreements with other countries which enable benefit to be paid in these cases.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Lieut.-Commander S. L. C. Maydon)

Where there is a reciprocal agreement, it can specify which legislation should cover any accident happening in one or other of the two countries, and, if our legislation covers an accident happening in the other country, we can rely on the authorities of that country to make inquiries on our behalf. To this extent, reciprocal agreements, the making of which was provided for in Sections 84 and 85 of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, 1946, do not represent a breach of Section 7(3) of that Act. But we can apply our legislation in another country only if we have an agreement with that country. My right hon. Friend therefore has no proposals for amending the Act in the manner suggested by the hon. Member.

Mr. Prentice

Have we now reached this position, that a British worker abroad—for example, a coach driver taking holiday-makers—if he is injured in, say, France, Italy, or one of several other countries, will get benefit under our Industrial Injuries legislation, whereas if he is injured in, say, Spain he will not, although he has been contributing to the fund and so has his employer? Does not this create an anomaly, and will the Government look at the matter again to see whether everyone can be put on the same footing?

Lieut-Commander Maydon

There are very many workers working throughout the world whose employers have some link with this country, and it would be far too difficult to specify which of these workers our legislation should cover. If we applied our legislation abroad without a reciprocal agreement, there might be duplicate cover for benefit if we could not rely on the authorities of the country concerned to co-operate with us.

Mr. Mitchison

Where is the sense or justice in making the remedies for an injured man dependent upon the existence or non-existence of an agreement of this kind? Is it not high time that this tangle was looked at again?

Lieut.-Commander Maydon

I assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that we are constantly looking at these agreements to see how they can be improved. We have come to our present conclusions after considerable examination.