HL Deb 17 July 1968 vol 295 cc301-2

2.25 p.m.


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 whether the Factory Inspectorate has already investigated and, if not, whether it would now investigate, the question of the risk of cancer for jute workers arising from the mineral oils used in the processing of jute, in the light of the report of the research workers in the Department of Public Health and Social Medicine, Queens College, Dundee, that there is a need to reduce the exposure of jute workers to these oils, and to consider the desirability of replacing the oils with innocuous substitutes.]


My Lords, it has been known for many years that certain oils used in industry may be carcinogenic, but evidence so far available shows that for jute workers the risk of skin cancer is very low. Where it does occur, the condition is fortunately readily identifiable and responds favourably if treated early. Following publication of the report referred to by my noble friend, the Factory Inspectorate made a special investigation into the types and composition of the oils used in the jute industry and into the incidence of skin cancer among the workers to see whether any new factor had emerged, but found no change in the situation.


My Lords, may I ask the Minister whether he is aware that there is no necessity whatever to use mineral oils for lubrication of fibres, either vegetable or animal, and that it may very well be that these mineral oils are being used for the lubrication of machinery? May I draw his attention to the investigations which were carried out in the cotton industry into the disease known as spinners' cancer?


My Lords, my noble friend asked whether I was aware of that situation. The answer is that I am not aware of it.