HC Deb 23 October 1973 vol 861 cc963-4
14. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he has now received the report of the Industrial Health Advisory Committee on the problems involved in framing practical and effective noise legislation; and if he will make a statement.

15. Miss Joan Hall

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will now make a progress report on the control of noise in factories, following the statement he made before the recess.

Mr. Dudley Smith

The Noise Sub-Committee of the Industrial Health Advisory Committee has started work on possible forms of noise legislation and hopes to complete its detailed study in the first half of next year. In the meantime, industry continues to show an encouraging response to the code of practice we published.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

Can my hon. Friend tell me whether the Government intend to bring forward legislation to deal with noise under the terms of the Robens Report or whether it will be brought forward separately?

Mr. Smith

The sub-committee is carrying out its work according to our proposals for legislation on safety and health, and the expectation is that early legislation will be forthcoming. Our proposals envisage the establishment of a safety and health commission, and it is likely that the sub-committee's report will be one of the first and most important items on the agenda of the new commission—that is, of course, if it is approved by Parliament.

Miss Hall

Meanwhile, before new legislation is introduced, there is a problem of noise in factories. Can my hon. Friend tell us what his inspectors are doing about it?

Mr. Smith

Yes, Sir. It is a real problem, and that is why the Government have instituted a further specialised inquiry. The Factory Inspectorate has reported an increased awareness on the part of both management and workers of the need to take action to reduce noise exposure, so the message is beginning to get home, and, as with disablement, it is education which counts to a large degree.

Dr. Miller

In the meantime, will the Minister appreciate that this is a serious medical problem and that he ought to be ensuring that the present laws against noise are enforced, particularly on our roads, where heavy lorries create a tremendous problem in this respect?

Mr. Smith

At present, lorries and roads are not the responsibility of my Department. However, I assure the hon. Gentleman that the experienced medical men and scientists taking part in the inquiry are making a valuable contribution.