HC Deb 20 January 1976 vol 903 cc1122-3
10. Mr. Cryer

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will repeal the Agriculture (Lifting of Heavy Weights) Regulations 1959.

Mr. Harold Walker

Following the transfer of responsibility for farm safety on 1st March next, these and all other related Regulations will come within the scope of the Health Safety Commission's systematic review of legislation provided for in Section 1(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Mr. Cryer

Does my hon. Friend accept that the systematic review of the Health and Safety Commission tends to be somewhat dilatory? Does he also accept that these Regulations, which place an upper limit of 180 lb on the load that a manual worker may lift, are outdated and should be swept to one side? Does my hon. Friend agree that when such workers are injured when lifting these heavy weights the Regulations make the obtaining of compensation extremely difficult? Lastly, will he urge the Health and Safety Commission to get cracking on its review of the Regulations and bring them up to date in the light of current medical knowledge?

Mr. Walker

I reject my hon. Friend's suggestion that the Health and Safety Commission has been dilatory. On the contrary, in its short existence it has done a remarkable amount of very good work. I agree with my hon. Friend's criticism of the 180 lb maximum provided in the Regulations. I hope that the Health and Safety Commission will give early attention to the eventual amendment of those Regulations when the responsibility is transferred on 1st March. The responsibility has not yet been transferred. When it is, I hope that the Commission will look carefully at what my hon. Friend and I have said with a view to including this matter in its review at an early date.

I am sure that my hon. Friend appreciates that compensation is not a matter for me. As he knows, the Pearson Commission is considering the whole broad area.

Mr. Mayhew

Important though safety matters are, does the Minister agree that it is not so much the weight of sacks that should be worrying agricultural workers whose jobs are being lost every week as the burden of this Government's taxation upon the backs of their employers and themselves?

Mr. Walker

I think that the House appreciates and reflects how irrelevant and ill-judged that question is. I am sure that the whole House will deplore the fact that the hon. and learned Gentleman should make use of a serious Question, about a very serious issue affecting farm workers, as a peg on which to hang a cheap jibe.

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