HC Deb 15 February 1973 vol 850 c1432
5. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to improve safety for those who are engaged in agriculture or on the land.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

Our contacts with manufacturers, our advisory activities and our enforcement of the regulations have all underlined the importance we attach to preventing accidents. This, together with first-class co-operation by all concerned, has certainly helped to reduce non-fatal accidents, while fatal accidents last year were the lowest on record.

Mr. Farr

Is my hon. Friend aware that the fatal accident rate for work on the land has actually doubled in the last 10 years? In view of this disturbing revelation, will he undertake to hold an inquiry?

Mr. Stodart

With respect to my hon. Friend, I cannot accept what he has said. The fatal accident figure for England and Wales in 1963 was 118 and in 1972 107.

Mr. Concannon

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some of us who were concerned with the Committee stage of the then Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill last year were absolutely horrified to learn of the accident rate in farming? Is he further aware that some of us believe that what the industry needs is the discipline that comes from a closed shop trade union organisation? Does he realise that while some of the regulations he has mentioned, such as those dealing with tractor cabs, are magnificent, the decision—and some of my colleagues and I must take some of the blame for this—to make these regulations wait for seven years is virtually condemning to death many people in the farming industry?

Mr. Stodart

The greatest number of fatal accidents is still due to overturning tractors. It is highly satisfactory that the regulations are at last beginning to bite. The time factor was something which both Governments examined. This was the conclusion they both felt themselves bound to reach.

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