HL Deb 15 December 1999 vol 608 c42WA
Lord Patten

asked Her Majesty's Government.:

Whether any studies are being conducted by the Employment Medical Advisory Service of the Health and Safety Executive into the health status of employees at Mersley Farm, Isle of Wight; and, if not, whether they will establish a study as a matter of urgency. [HL220]

Lord Whitty

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has completed criminal proceedings against Mr Colin Boswell, who was the owner of Mersley Farm, for matters relating to pesticide abuse. These proceedings led to a £220,000 fine and high levels of public interest. Both before the prosecution and afterwards a number of people, both employees and others, complained of ill health as a result of the activities of the farm.

It is a matter of HSE policy that all allegations of ill health as a result of pesticide exposure are fully investigated. For each investigation a report is submitted to the Pesticide Incident Appraisal Panel (PIAP) for consideration. The Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS) plays a key role in this.

In accordance with HSE's policy, each complaint relating to alleged ill health due to pesticide misuse at Mersley Farm, including those made since the prosecution, has been investigated. The majority of the complaints have been completed and submitted to PIAP. Some more recent complaints are still under investigation.

PIAP gives detailed consideration to cases investigated by staff of HSE's Field Operations Division (FOD). Reported incidents of alleged ill health involving pesticides are considered and assessments made of the nature and severity of any adverse effects and whether or not they are consistent with the known toxic effects of the pesticides involved. These incidents are included in the FOD Annual Pesticide Incidents Report.