§ 51. Mr. Molloy
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what action she proposes to take on the recommendations of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council relating to compensation for byssinosis among cotton and flax workers.
§ Mr. O'Malley
My right hon. Friend has decided that the occupational cover for industrial injury benefit for byssinosis should be extended to workers engaged in all processes up to and including winding and beaming. This will give cover for the first time to spinners, winders and beamers. My right hon. Friend has also decided that the 10-year qualifying period should be reduced to five years and the condition that disablement must be permanent should be abolished, so as to enable people with grade 2 byssinosis to qualify for benefit. These changes go further than the recommendations in the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council's report which were that the winding and beaming processes should be covered and that further investigations should be made into the question of whether the spinning processes should be covered and whether there was a case for giving benefit for grade 2 byssinosis. After consideration my right hon. Friend has now concluded that it would be right to introduce all90W these changes. Draft regulations providing for these changes have been referred to and approved by the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council and will shortly be laid before the House.
It is estimated that perhaps 1,000 people will become entitled to benefit for the first time, and thereafter perhaps an extra 100 people a year. The changes will take some time to complete as each claimant has to be examined by two specially qualified doctors, of whom there is a shortage, but I hope the new benefits will be paid before the end of the year.