HC Deb 22 February 1965 vol 707 cc12-3
12. Mr. Peter Walker

asked the Minister of Labour what measures he has taken to strengthen the Factory Inspectorate in order to reduce accidents.

40. Mr. Rose

asked the Minister of Labour what steps he has now taken to increase the number of factory inspectors and the frequency of factory inspection.

Mr. Gunter

There has been continuous recruitment to H.M. Factory Inspectorate and there has been a net gain of 21 inspectors since January 1964. There are now 484 inspectors in post.

Mr. Walker

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the tributes which have been paid on both sides of the House to the very fine work done by the existing inspectorate, which is terribly overworked? Can he give us some indication as to the number of inspectors he considers are required for the inspectorate to be up to full force?

Mr. Gunter

The present authorised strength is 516, and we are making very good progress towards reaching it. When we reach this figure, we shall have to have another look at it.

Mr. Rose

In assessing the number of inspectors required, would my right hon. Friend take into account that new developments in processes and materials are attendant with new hazards? Would he also take into account the fact that only 40 per cent. of reportable accidents are in fact reported and that more working days are lost through industrial injuries and diseases than are lost through strikes?

Mr. Gunter

I entirely take my hon. Friend's points.

Mr. Orme

Would my right hon. Friend also bear in mind, when he is considering legislation, that he might make it mandatory on factory inspectors to consult workpeople's representatives as well as employers when they visit establishments? This would go a long way towards meeting many of the grievances which workpeople have but have difficulty in airing at present.

Mr. Gunter

This is a matter which has been and is the subject of discussion with the trade unions. I think I am right in saying, however, that it is not mandatory upon the inspectors to consult the employers either.