HC Deb 12 July 1977 vol 935 cc199-200
3. Mr. van Straubenzee

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how the number of fatal accidents on farms in Great Britain compares with similar figures for the previous two years.

Mr. John Grant

The number of fatal accidents on farms in Great Britain in 1976 was 108 compared with 101 in 1975 and 104 in 1974.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Does the Minister agree that the figure for accidents resulting from tractors overturning is most disturbing? Is it true that only three of the 23 tractors involved were fitted with safety cabs? Will the Minister consider whether the law, which I appreciate alters in August, will be sufficient in that it will not relate to the self-employed, bearing in mind that 16 of these cases involved self-employed farmers?

Mr. Grant

The hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) is correct on those facts. I share the view expressed recently by the director of agricultural safety for the Health and Safety Executive that these figures are tragically and unacceptably high. The hon. Gentleman is correct in what he said about safety cabs. In three of the accidents safety cabs were fitted, but the occupants were not in the cabs at the time. If they had been, perhaps there would not have been the fatalities. When the law is changed it will make an appreciable difference to this situation. The hon. Gentleman's final point about the self-employed was carefully considered by the Health and Safety Executive when it was making the regulations.

Mr. Madel

How many personnel in the Health and Safety Executive are responsible for safety on farms? How does that figure compare with the numbers concerned with farm safety in the Ministry of Agriculture when it had responsibility for that subject?

Mr. Grant

It is difficult to give precise figures. I would prefer to write to the hon. Gentleman with them. Some of the agricultural inspectors who were working part-time are now working full-time, and that makes a complete breakdown difficult. However, the Executive has been strengthened as a result of the reorganisation.

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