HC Deb 29 January 1991 vol 184 cc781-2
8. Mr. Eastham

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what discussions he has had about resourcing difficulties with the Health and Safety Executive.

Mr. Forth

The Government have once again met in full the Health and Safety Commission's request for funds for 1991–92. The commission's chairman, Dr. Cullen, has recently written to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State indicating that the available resources will enable the commission to take forward its programme of work.

Mr. Eastham

Will the Minister consider the serious disasters taking place throughout the country, the extra responsibilities that the Health and Safety Executive is given for North sea oil rigs, rivers and railways and the fact that it reported to the Select Committee on Employment recently that the Treasury is providing inadequate funds with inadequate inflation factors to add to its budget? Will he also consider the important factor reported to the Committee that the Health and Safety Executive is unable to man the appropriate law facilities and is unable to cope with enforcing the law?

Mr. Forth

I must confess that my reading of the evidence given to the Select Committee on Employment does not coincide with that of the hon. Gentleman. Perhaps we should both re-study the record to see what was said. As I said in my original reply, the chairman of the commission has said that he believes that the resources are adequate for the great responsibilities of the commission and the executive. Our record on health and safety bears that out. It is a record of which we are proud and it is one of the best in the European Community. Of course, we always look at any case that is made for additional resources. We have said that the transfer of responsibilities after the Cullen report will not cause a lack of resources. I cannot square the record or Dr. Cullen's evidence with what the hon. Gentleman has suggested.

Mr. Burns

So that there is no misunderstanding on this important issue, will my hon. Friend confirm that his Department has met in full for the next financial year the Health and Safety Commission's request for funding?

Mr. Forth

Yes, indeed. My hon. Friend is correct and I am grateful to him for emphasising that point. I cannot stress enough the high regard that we have for the work of the commission and the executive and the great lengths to which we go to ensure that they have the resources that they require and for which they ask. I hope that that will continue.