§ 44. Mrs. Joyce Butler
asked the Minister of Social Security if she will take powers to amend the prescribed industrial diseases regulations so as to give entitlement to benefit to workers developing such diseases as mesothelioma and bladder cancer where the incubation period of the disease may be more than 18 years.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Social Security (Mr. Harold Davies)
Amendment of the Prescribed Diseases Regulations would not assist workers who contract mesothelioma or bladder cancer as a result of exposure more than 18 years ago. New major legislation would be required.
§ Mrs. Butler
Is it not wrong that the 30-odd cases which are known at the moment and the others which will inevitably arise of workers suffering from these diseases should be deprived of benefit because the average period of incubation for bladder cancer is 18 to 20 years and it may be as much as 50, and for mesothelioma it is 30 years and may be much longer? Would the Ministry please look at it again and see whether some simpler legislation or regulations could be introduced to cover the point?
§ Mr. Davies
I can assure my hon. Friend that this is the concern of both sides of the House. The fact is that the Industrial Diseases (Benefit) Act, 1954, was the parent Act by which some of these diseases became scheduled. If a specific disease is not scheduled under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1925, it would, as a result, not be included in the list of scheduled diseases. Nevertheless, I assure my hon. Friend that we are concerned about this very complex and difficult problem. We depend greatly on the advice of our medical advisers. We are doing our utmost to find an answer to some of these problems.