HC Deb 13 June 1972 vol 838 cc1242-3
11. Mr. Skinner

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will set up an inquiry to investigate the incidence of chronic bronchitis and emphysema in industry, with a view to having it classified as a prescribed industrial disease.

Mr. Dean

No, Sir. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are extremely common among the general population and there is no evidence to suggest that they could satisfy the conditions for prescription as industrial diseases laid down in Section 56 of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, 1965.

Mr. Skinner

If that is the case, perhaps the hon. Gentleman can explain why it is that a few years ago chronic bronchitis and emphysema in association with pneumoconiosis was accepted as an industrial disease? If one pursues that kind of logic, someone somewhere in the Department is accepting that chronic bronchitis and emphysema should be a prescribed industrial disease and that there are thousands of miners and ex-miners whose lungs have been destroyed totally as a result of this form of industrial accident. Has the hon. Gentleman any comment on the first point especially?

Mr. Dean

A connection has been established in the case of pneumoconiosis, and it is for that reason that this exception has been made with regard to the mining community. A great deal of research has been done into bronchitis and emphysema. It is "the English disease", and we have to be careful that we do not prescribe something which does not fall within the terms of the Industrial Injuries Act. None the less, I assure the hon. Gentleman that much research continues into this problem and other industrial diseases. As soon as we get firm evidence that any additional disease can legitimately be brought within the Act, we are prepared to act upon it.

Mr. Carter-Jones

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he has a case before him from my constituency where the Pneumoconiosis Panel said that a man did not have pneumoconiosis? Subsequently the man died. An autopsy revealed that he had chronic bronchitis, emphysema and pneumoconiosis. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Pneumoconiosis Panel still denied that he had it, despite the fact that the pathologist's report clearly revealed it? Will the hon. Gentleman look again at this matter?

Mr. Dean

I shall look at it gladly, though I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not expect me to comment on an individual case now. I emphasise that the exception made in the case of pneumoconiosis has gone a long way to deal with the undoubted problem suffered in the mining community as a result of this disease.