HC Deb 21 February 1966 vol 725 cc7-8
11. Dr. Bray

asked the Minister of Labour what were the reasons for the sharp increase in fatal accidents in the iron and steel industry in the third quarter of 1965 to over double the average rate for the previous two years; and whether he is satisfied with the safety measures in this industry.

Mr. Thornton

Quarterly figures can fluctuate considerably. The total for 1965 was just under a third higher than the average for the previous two years and was the same as for 1961 and 1962. On the second part of the Question, one can never be satisfied with safety measures as long as we are faced with large numbers of serious accidents. Nevertheless, a good deal of valuable work is being done by the industrial organisations concerned. We shall continue to support and encourage the development of these activities.

Dr. Bray

Would my hon. Friend recognise that the increase is too large to be accountable by random factors? Will he see whether safety measures are being neglected to economise in maintenance costs in old steel mills which are likely to be closed in a few years?

Mr. Thornton

The British Iron and Steel Federation has appointed two safety officers to have particular regard to the point raised by my hon. Friend. The industries are doing the best that they can in very difficult circumstances. We are very concerned about this matter, as the industry and my hon. Friend are, and we shall watch it very closely.