HC Deb 20 July 1964 vol 699 cc6-8
6. Mrs. Slater

asked the Minister of Labour what reply he has sent to the letter of the Council of British Sanitary Pottery Manufacturers about the typhoid epidemic in Aberdeen and the need for increased facilities for hand washing, &c.

Mr. Whitelaw

I would refer the hon. Member to the Reply I gave on 6th July to the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler). I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the reply sent to the Council of British Sanitary Pottery Manufacturers.

Mrs. Slater

Will that letter be sympathetic to the appeal by the sanitary manufacturers? Does not he agree that this aspect of hygiene has become very important since the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act, 1963, was passed and that it is no use asking people to wash their hands after they have used the toilet unless provision to do so is adequate? Does the hon. Gentleman's reply to the manufacturers give some encouragement to them?

Mr. Whitelaw

I think the answer is that in itself the Act marks a very significant step forward. On the other hand, where suitable and sufficient washing facilities are otherwise provided in a position conveniently accessible to employed persons, as is required by the Act, it would seem unreasonable to require by law the provision of additional facilities which the suggestion of the sanitary manufacturers would entail.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that there is now no epidemic in that beautiful and healthy City of Aberdeen, which has full hygiene facilities of every kind, including hand washing?

Mr. Whitelaw

I welcome what the hon. and learned Gentleman says, and I am sure the House does, too, but he will equally realise that it hardly arises from this Question.

Sir B. Stross

Has the hon. Gentleman studied the work done at the Porton Biological Warfare Establishment on the problem of the contamination of hands? Is he aware that when hand-washing facilities are made available inside a room where there is a lavatory it is not very useful because contamination of the floors and walls, and particularly of the door, occurs every time there is flushing of the lavatory? That being the case, will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the right thing to do is to have hand-washing facilities outside the room?

Mr. Whitelaw

That conflicts, to some extent, with the suggestions that have been put forward on other occasions, but I am very interested to have the benefit of the hon. Gentleman's technical advice.

22. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Labour if he will have consultations with the British Sanitary Pottery Manufacturers' Council concerning his regulations about the provision of wash basins in office and shop premises.

Mr. Whitelaw

Our officers consulted the Council at every stage in the preparation of these regulations, which have now been made. They would be willing to receive further representations, but the points which the Council have made have been fully considered.

Mr. Swingler

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the Members who represent North Staffordshire are agreed that steps should be taken to implement the universal provision of wash basins adjacent to lavatories? Will he take note of that fact and perhaps find a convenient opportunity to consult the British Sanitary Pottery Manufacturers Council on the possibilities of increasing production to enable this to be carried out universally?

Mr. Whitelaw

The British Sanitary Pottery Manufacturers Council has been consulted, as I said. The scales that we have proposed were found to be acceptable to the great majority of the many organisations consulted, including employers' associations, trade unions and local authority associations. They would appear to be powerfully helped by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Sir B. Stross), and with that support it will be seen that we have not done too badly.