HC Deb 24 May 1965 vol 713 cc27-8
36. Mr. Oakes

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether she will include arthritis, rheumatism and bronchitis in the list of prescribed industrial diseases.

Miss Herbison

Establishment of a direct causal link between an injured person's employment and the conditions for which he claims compensation is basic to the Industrial Injuries scheme. Because of this, special tests have to be satisfied before a disease can be prescribed. These tests are set out in Section 55(2) of the Industrial Injuries Act, 1946, and they are not satisfied by any of the three diseases to which my hon. Friend refers.

Mr. Oakes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many hundreds and thousands of workers spend their lives in soaking wet conditions and that the incidence of rheumatism, arthritis and bronchitis, particularly among those in their 50s and 60s, is high? Is she further aware that a minority Report in 1955 was strongly in favour of the inclusion of these diseases in the list of industrial diseases?

Miss Herbison

I am aware of that Report and of the concern which is being shown by the T.U.C. and other bodies on this matter. On the whole question of industrial diseases, including pneumoconiosis, it seems that there is a need of them to be much more thoroughly examined, but at this stage it is impossible for me to go any further than the reply I have given.

Mr. Snow

Is my right hon. Friend aware that her Answer would be received with a great deal more happiness if one felt convinced that the medical profession knew what the sources of origin and the possible treatments are for arthritis, bronchitis and rheumatism? In point of fact, with these three diseases the medical profession is all at sea.

Miss Herbison

I am sure that a great deal more research needs to be done on these diseases. A survey has been carried out into the incidence of bronchitis. We are getting the results of that survey and from that we hope to do some further work. I have always been intensely interested in industrial diseases and I am now giving some attention to these matters.

Mr. Wainwright

Would my right hon. Friend give special consideration to all three diseases, especially arthritis? Is she aware that many men in mining and other industries suffer knocks to their flesh and bones? Arthritis develops later. Medical specialists say that it is latent arthritis and that the disease has no connection with the former accident.

Miss Herbison

It will be clear from the answers I have already given that I shall be ready to give consideration to the matter my hon. Friend has mentioned.