HC Deb 24 July 1969 vol 787 cc428-30W
Mr. David Watkins

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity whether she will now announce her plans for safety, health and welfare legislation.

Mrs. Castle

It is my intention to seek an early opportunity to introduce legislation dealing with the reform of the Appointed Factory Doctor Service and with joint consultation on Safety. I have it in mind that the reform of the Appointed Factory Doctor Service should be the occasion of a rationalisation of existing resources, aimed at establishing within my Department an Employment Medical Advisory Service. This service would work in close association with the N.H.S.

There are, of course, wider proposals for safety, health and welfare legislation under consideration on the basis of the First Consultative Document circulated in December, 1967. Good progress has been made with consultation on these proposals with the large number of interested organisations. The proposals are, however, very far reaching and contain many matters which need careful technical examination. I have come to the conclusion that there would be advantage in providing opportunity for further study of these matters by the many interests concerned, taking account of the reactions evoked by the First Consultative Document. I shall be making a further announcement about the Government's plans in this connection.

The short Bill which I shall seek to introduce would amend the Factories Act. The two issues with which it will deal are matters on which I have had helpful and constructive advice from my Advisory Committees. As regards joint consultation on safety, my intention will be to extend and strengthen arrangements for the participation of workers' representatives in safety matters and for consultation between management and workers on these matters at the place of work. I shall be consulting further with the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. as regards the specific provisions which will best serve this purpose.

By establishing an Employment Medical Advisory Service concerned with all aspects of employment, I am aiming at a closer relationship between the medical work already being done in connection with the supervision of people attending Government Training Centres and Industrial Rehabilitation Units, and with that done by the Medical Inspectors of Factories and the Appointed Factory Doctors. My proposals will also make provision for a close link with the School Health Service. It has long been felt that the Government should take some step forward in occupational medicine and my proposals will be a significant move in this direction. I believe they will make a valuable contribution to the well-being of people in employment. The arrangements I propose to introduce will, of course, be subject to review in the light of any re-organisation of the administration of the health services which may be undertaken later on.