HC Deb 05 November 1974 vol 880 cc875-6
16. Mr. Madden

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he intends to anonunce the chairman and members of the Health and Safety Commission.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Harold Walker)

My right hon. Friend announced the appointment of Mr. Bill Simpson as chairman on 2nd September 1974 and the appointment of six members on 27th September 1974. Three further members will be appointed as soon as possible.

Mr. Madden

I am grateful for that reply. Will my hon. Friend urge the commission to direct the Factory Inspectorate to adopt a far more aggressive attitude towards enforcing the appropriate regulations and will he urge it as a matter of urgency to get on with recruiting more inspectors?

Mr. Walker

My hon. Friend will recognise that this will be a matter for the commission and the executive when they are appointed in January, but I think he will have seen that the Chief Inspector of Factories has been taking a much tougher line recently. I said publicly recently that if the Factory Inspectorate invoked the full rigours of the new Act, it would have my full backing. I hope that the commission will take a lead from those remarks. As to the numbers of the inspectorate, when the executive is established we intend to expand. I hope that over the next few years the expansion will be of the order of 50 per cent. in the unified inspectorate.

Sir Bernard Braine

Does the Minister recall that, after the Flixborough explosion, promises were made from his side of the House that the Health and Safety Commission when it came into existence would look at the very serious position of Canvey Island? Can he assure me now that the commission will be asked to look at that situation with the highest possible priority?

Mr. Walker

I understand the hon. Member's deep concern in the campaign that he has been waging on behalf of his constituents on Canvey Island. I recall very well the pledge I gave him—that I would bring his powerful arguments to the attention of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for the Environment. I assure him that I did that and that the Secretary of State is very much aware of his concern and of the problems facing his constituents. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that we are about to establish the second committee which was envisaged by my right hon. Friend when he set up the committee of inquiry into Flixborough. I am hoping that it will be equally aware of the hon. Member's concern and of the problem of Canvey Island.

Sir Bernard Braine

I thank the hon. Gentleman.