HC Deb 28 February 1972 vol 832 c13
11. Mr. Dormand

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he is satisfied with present progress on research on pneumoconiosis and other respiratory diseases affecting miners; and if he will make a statement.

Sir J. Eden

Obviously one cannot be satisfied until these diseases are eliminated. The most pressing problem at present is dust control and the research effort on it has recently been increased. Since the introduction of the present interim gravimetric dust standard in March, 1970, there has been a significant improvement in dust control and I hope that this will continue.

Mr. Dormand

Will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that there is no complacency in this matter? Is he aware that in its current report the National Coal Board says that the favourable trend in the number of pneumoconiosis cases diagnosed for the first time has slowed down appreciably? "Appreciably" is the board's word, not mine. That is a serious development. Will the hon. Gentleman assure us that all resources will be devoted to curing this not only crippling but killing disease?

Sir J. Eden

I assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no complacency in this matter. The latest Digest of Pneumoconiosis Statistics shows that the incidence of new certifications of pneumoconiosis for the purpose of disablement benefit in 1970 was the highest for seven years, but that does not reflect current working conditions, as the hon. Gentleman knows.