§ Colonel Ropner
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, what progress has been made with investigations into the problem of silicosis.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
The main features of this complex problem cover (a) the suppression of all forms of dust in the mines, (b) medical and X-ray examinations of mineworkers on entry and periodically thereafter, (c) after-care of the men affected including medical attention and (d) their placing in suitable alternative employment with pre-employment training where necessary. These matters cover the responsibilities of many Government Departments and progress in the formulation of comprehensive arrangements is being stimulated and co-ordinated by the National Joint Pneumoconiosis Committee of which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is Chairman. Four Sub-Committees are now engaged on these main features of the problem each with a chairman from the Department mainly responsible. The National Coal Board and the National Union of Mineworkers are also represented. Dust prevention measures, already highly developed in South Wales, are now being improved and extended in each coal division through Dust Prevention Committees on which the Inspectors of Mines, the National Coal Board and the National Union of Mineworkers are represented. A medical rehabilitation centre is also being provided by the Miners' Welfare Commission. With regard to medical research I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 4th March by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council in reply to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies). I am happy to say that the number of new cases at mines have appreciably dropped during the past two years, the figures being 5,821 in 1945, 4,426 in 1946 and 3,800 (provisional) in 1947.