HC Deb 15 November 1965 vol 720 cc670-1
30. Mr. Hale

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance in view of the state of the existing law on the subject, what proposals she has for dealing with sufferers from byssinosis.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. Harold Davies)

Industrial injuries cover for byssinosis was extended as recently as a fortnight ago to cover flax spinners in processes up to and including carding. My right hon. Friend has no further proposals at present.

Mr. Hale

But is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that, once again, a Measure supported by the cotton textile unions in Oldham and elsewhere was introduced and defeated by the implacable hostility of the Minister during the last Session, that, out of a fund of £100 million in 1964, figures show that only one male person got 100 per cent. pension for byssinosis and that I constantly submitted evidence of tragic cases of people who had been defeated by this faulty medical definition? What does he intend to do about it?

Mr. Davies

I do not agree with at least the middle part of my hon. Friend's argument. The position is that the Industrial Advisory Council made a comprehensive review of the position in 1955, as a result of which the present Regulations were introduced. The Council subsequently, in 1960, considered whether occupational cover for cotton workers should be extended, but found no evidence then to support this view. The extension of cover to flax spinners in the agreed processes was again made following the Council's recommendation. There is no evidence at present that any of the Regulations has been defective so far as our present medical knowledge of byssinosis is concerned.