HL Deb 26 July 1961 vol 233 cc1000-2

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the present balance of money in the Industrial Injuries Fund at the latest available date, how many grants from the fund have been made for research into industrial injuries, under Section 73 of the Industrial Injuries Act, and what is the total amount of money from the fund so far spent on research since the Act was passed in 1946.]


My Lords, the latest accounts of the Industrial Injuries Fund are those for the financial year ending March, 1960, when the balance held by the Fund was nearly £238 million. As the noble Lord will be aware, the Fund is at present being built up, with a view to accumulating amounts sufficient, on the advice of the Government Actuary, to meet its ultimate liabilities. Payments have been made towards six projects under Section 73 of the Industrial Injuries Act, and the total amount of money from the Fund spent so far on research is £3,910.


My Lords, in view of the very large size of this Fund, and the very small amount of money which so far has been spent from it on research —£3,000 as against nearly £300 million—would the noble Lord consider, in time for the next Session, the possibility of slightly widening Section 73 so that grants can be made from this Fund, even to such a small extent as 1 per cent. of the total fund, towards starting industrial health services, in the areas where they are badly needed, to do exactly what the Fund is aiming to do in terms of monetary compensation?


My Lords, I think that the noble Lord has corresponded with my right honourable friend the Minister of Pensions on this subject and my right honourable friend has told him that although he could not hold out any hope of using the Industrial Injuries Fund for research on a large scale, he would do his best, under Section 73 of the Act, to consider any projects which come within its scope—that is to say, research into injuries and diseases which are insured against. He said that he would be glad to consider what he could do under that section—and of course, it is under that section that all these small items of research have been carried out—but I will gladly convey to my right honourable friend what the noble Lord has just suggested.


My Lords, I thank the noble Earl very much. This is not strictly research. It is the initiation of industrial health services, for which small sums only are needed but which the Government have no means of granting at the moment. As a result, such services have to rely on the generosity of the Nuffield Foundation, which has given £250,000 to do just this; but I fear that it is not going to prove enough.


My Lords, in view of the large sums mentioned this afternoon, would the noble Earl consider asking the Minister if he will direct some of it to research into rheumatism, which many people believe may be an industrial disease. In view of what we were told last week, about the very small amount directed to this field I think it would be of benefit if same of this huge sum could be used for research.


My Lords, I will certainly pass on the noble Lady's suggestion. I should not like to say, off-hand, whether rheumatism is a disease which is insured against under the Industrial Injuries Act. Of course, the main agency for research into diseases is the Medical Research Council.


My Lords, can the noble Earl say whether doctors who are employed in industry can make application to the Fund for research grants?


My Lords, I think the noble Lord is aware that the main purpose of the Industrial Injuries Fund is to build up an amount sufficient to pay industrial injuries benefit; and owing to the progress of the Fund some reductions in contributions and increases in benefits, as he will remember, were made last year. I think that under the Industrial injuries Act research into diseases which might be insured against under the Act has always been a very minor purpose of the Fund under Section 73. But I will certainly convey to my right honourable friend what the noble Lord has said.