HC Deb 09 July 1970 vol 803 cc829-30
21. Mr. Sillars

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity if he will introduce legislation to make joint safety committees in industry compulsory.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity (Mr. Dudley Smith)

My right hon. Friend proposes to start further consultations with the C.B.I., the T.U.C. and the nationalised industries as to the best way of getting better arrangements for joint consultation on safety matters.

Mr. Sillars

With due respect to the Minister, he has dodged the point of the Question about making compulsory joint safety committees. There should be no need for further consultation because both major parties have discussed this matter at great length. Will the hon. Gentleman take it that his Answer will be a great disappointment to trade unionists in this country?

Mr. Smith

I do not think the hon. Member was in the House when we debated the health and safety Bill in the last Parliament. The then Opposition then had very substantial reservations about Part II of that Bill. I think it far better, before proceeding with this point, to have further consultations.

Mr. David Stoddart

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the electricity supply industry joint safety committees have been operating for many years on a virtually compulsory basis and have achieved a fair measure of success? Would not he agree that if the result were a drop in the number of accidents with a consequential reduction in pain and suffering, that would be beneficial and a fair exchange for a measure of compulsion?

Mr. Smith

Yes, Sir. Substantial progress has been made on a voluntary basis and there are those who believe that even further progress could be made on a voluntary basis. My right hon. Friend intends to have serious consultations on this point and, if it is thought that further legislation is necessary, that will be brought forward.

Mrs. Castle

Does this mean that the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend do not intend to reintroduce the legislation which was before the House, which was urgently needed, which could have been amended and discussed in Committee and which his Department's Industrial Safety Advisory Committee was anxious to see make progress?

Mr. Smith

We are giving urgent attention to the introduction of a Health and Safety Bill. At an appropriate time we shall bring these Measures forward if it is thought that they should be brought forward.