HC Deb 22 November 1976 vol 919 cc1008-10W
Mr. Ronald Brown

asked the Secretary of State for Employment, in view of the fact that it is possible for workpeople to be told by receivers at 4.15 p.m. on a Friday that their employment is terminated as from that instant, as in a recent case involving receivers acting on the instructions of the Midland Bank, if he is satisfied that the Employment Protection Act is adequate to deal with such events.

Mr. Harold Walker

The Employment Protection Act does not alter existing insolvency procedures under the Companies Acts but it does include special provision for employees to receive prompt payment from the Redundancy Fund of moneys owing to them such as arrears of pay, pay in lieu of notice, holiday pay, unfair dismissal awards, and other debts. Other requirements of the Act apply to insolvent employers as they do to other employers except in cases of compulsory liquidation by court order. I cannot comment on the case referred to without further details.

Mrs. Bain

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if the Government intend to implement the recommendations of the Health and Safety at Work Consultative Document "Compulsory Notification of Proposed Experiments in the Genetic Manipulation of Micro-Organisms"; and if Parliament will be given an opportunity to discuss such regulations as those in Appendix B of the document.

Mr. John Grant

The Government have accepted the general principles of the Report of the Working Party on the Practice of Genetic Manipulation which recommended,inter alia,that regulations should be made under the Health and Safety at Work Act to require notification of experiments. The Health and Safety Commission accordingly prepared draft regulations and circulated them in its consultative document.

I am informed by the Commission that it has received a substantial volume of comment on the draft regulations, all of which it will wish to consider, holding such further consultations with interested organisations as may be necessary, before recommending to the Government the form in which the regulations might finally be drawn. Under normal practice these regulations would be made by negative resolution and would not be the subject of debate in Parliament.

Mrs. Bain

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what microbiological, molecular biological, biochemical or genetical expertise exists on the Health and Safety Commission Executive; and what proportion of the Factory Inspectorate has such expertise;

(2) what would be the extra annual cost to the public of the administration of the regulations outlined in the Health and Safety at Work Consultative Document "Compulsory Notification of Proposed Experiments in the Genetic Manipulation of Micro-Organisms".

Mr. John Grant

I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the Health and Safety Executive will not be in a position to assess precisely the financial and staffing implications of administering regulations based on the proposals in the consultative document until it has reached a conclusion on the definition of the activities in genetic manipulation to be covered in the regulations which it will finally recommend to the Government. The Commission is at the moment consider- ing the comments on this point which it has received during the consultative process.

The Executive has only a few staff with expertise in these disciplines but has appointed a principal scientific officer—microbiology—and is considering what other steps it should take to meet its developing commitments in the field of genetic manipulation.

The Commission and Executive hope, in any case, to be able to draw on considerable resources of external expertise, primarily the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Group, for advice on genetic manipulation matters.

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