HC Deb 13 May 1963 vol 677 cc944-5
39. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will amend the regulations for industrial injury benefit so as to provide that a person who is forcibly suspended from work on suspicion of suffering from a prescribed disease is entitled to draw industrial injury benefit during suspension, even though the suspicion is not subsequently confirmed.

Mr. N. Macpherson

Neither the Industrial Injuries Act nor the regulations made under it require a person to be suspended from work on suspicion of suffering from a prescribed disease. The hon. Lady may have in mind regulations, which are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, under which persons in certain occupations may be suspended from employment by an appointed factory doctor. But it would not be appropriate to amend the Industrial Injuries scheme so as to provide for the payment of benefit where no industrial injury or disease has in fact been suffered.

Mrs. Castle

But is the right hon.. Gentleman aware that Mrs. Killingbeck, of Blackburn, was recently suspended by the factory inspector from her work as a battery operative at Messrs. Park Brothers as she was suspected of suffering from industrial injury, that is, lead poisoning, but as it was later found that the amount of lead she had absorbed was below the level of tolerance she was refused industrial injury benefit although the reason for her suspension from work was entirely related to the nature of her work? Is it not quite wrong in such a situation that industrial injury benefit should be refused? Will the right hon. Gentleman amend the Regulations to cover these cases?

Mr. Macpherson

No. Some people are suspended because their health has been injuriously affected; others are suspended for preventive reasons, because it is suspected that their health may have been affected, or may be affected if they continue. In this case, the second case, it is open to the individual to obtain sickness benefit or unemployment benefit as the case may be, but a person cannot obtain industrial injury benefit unless it is shown that an injury has been suffered, or that some prescribed disease has been discovered.

Dr. Stross

Does the Minister think that it is fair that a woman who is suspended because it is suspected that she is suffering from lead poisoning should be told by the right hon. Gentleman that she should ask for sickness benefit when she is not in fact sick? Does he not realise that she has suffered pecuniary loss, and should not somebody make it up?

Mr. Macpherson

No. If somebody is suspended he normally goes to see his doctor, who will give him a medical certificate straight away, in which case he gets sickness benefit straight away, and he can apply for industrial injury benefit, which he may or may not get. This is decided by the statutory authority. Alternatively he will get unemployment benefit.