HC Deb 23 September 1943 vol 392 cc449-51W
Mr. Watt

asked the Home Secretary (1) what steps he has taken to ensure that the additional benefits conferred by the new Workmen's Compensation Bill will be available to claimants in cases where the accident occurred between 1st January, 1924, and the passing of the Bill;

(2) whether he has taken any steps to ascertain that liability for additional benefits conferred by the new Workmen's Compensation Bill will be accepted by underwriters even although their contract of insurance does not cover the same; and, if not, what steps does he propose to take to ascertain the intention of insurers regarding the matter?

(3) whether, in cases where employers liable to claimants for their weekly payments have ceased to exist and their contracts of insurance do not cover the additional benefits proposed by the new Workmen's Compensation Bill, the Government will make the addition benefits payable from public funds?

Mr. H. Morrison

The Question to which my hon. Friend calls attention arose under the Bill of 1940 in the same way as it arises under the present Bill, and experience has shown that it can be met with the co-operation of the Insurance Companies. As the legal liability for the payment of the additional allowances will rest on the employer, it would not be possible under the scheme of the existing law to provide that where the employer fails to meet his liability the money shall be found from public funds. There has, however, been consultation with representatives of the insurance interests, and on this occasion, as in 1940, there will, I believe, be a widespread readiness on the part of the Insurance Companies to accept responsibility for the additional allowances in cases where they are responsible for weekly payments under the principal Act.

Mr. Higgs

asked the Home Secretary the approximate percentage increase in the cost to industry for workmen's compensation due to the proposals made in the Workmen's Compensation (Temporary Increases) Bill for new accidents and for those cases where compensation is still being paid?

Mr. Morrison

It is estimated that in the seven groups of industries for which previous statistics are available and which include the main industries in which the accident risk is high, the over-all percentage increase in respect of new cases will be approximately 22½ per cent. For all industries and employments, the percentage increase will probably be found to be lower than this figure. As regards cases current at the date of the Act, where compensation is still being paid, the percentage increase will be greater owing to the fact that in some cases payments of compensation will already have continued for 13 weeks. The amount of the increase will depend on the proportion of such cases and will vary appreciably in different industries.