HC Deb 09 June 1992 vol 209 c140
14. Mr. Tony Lloyd

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many establishments are required to register under the Control of Industrial Major Hazards Regulations 1989.

Mr. McLoughlin

As at 31 December 1991, a total of 289 establishments had been notified to the Health and Safety Executive as "top-tier" sites under the Control of Industrial Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1984.

Mr. Lloyd

Will the Minister confirm that such sites could represent the highest potential risk to public safety? Will he also confirm that the Health and Safety Executive has been incredibly dilatory in assessing the real level of risk in those places? Does he intend to communicate directly with the HSE to ensure that a proper assessment is made and that public safety is assured?

Mr. McLoughlin

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He is correct to mention the HSE's diligence in carrying out its duties under the regulations. I shall pass on the hon. Gentleman's comments, and he can be sure that the Government will ensure that the HSE carries out its obligations.

Mr. Simon Coombs

Will my hon. Friend take this opportunity to congratulate HSE inspectors around the country on their work with hazardous substances in very hazardous circumstances? Are they not worthy of the highest praise, rather than the criticism that we hear too often from the Opposition?

Mr. McLoughlin

Indeed they are. Most people who come into contact with the HSE and its inspectors are very impressed by the professional way in which they carry out their work.

Mr. Cryer

Is the Minister satisfied that there are sufficient health and safety inspectors in post to ensure that all the major hazard sites—and, indeed, all the minor hazard sites—are inspected and properly assessed because, as he knows, many small factories are not inspected for many years at a time due to the grave shortage of qualified inspectors? Are the Government going to do something about that?

Mr. McLoughlin

I go part of the way with the hon. Gentleman. It is right that some of the bigger sites have safety in mind in relation to their responsibilities to the community and to their employees and that care must be taken at some smaller sites. However, I am confident that there are enough inspectors to carry out the work.

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