asked the Minister of Labour what are the reasons for the substantial increase of mill accidents in the cotton industry; and what preventative training is being undertaken.
I am not aware of such an increase. Fluctuations in accident statistics have been found to be largely affected by fluctuations in numbers employed, and during last year the number of persons employed in the cotton industry increased by about 20,000. More systematic training is widely developing in industry, a number of cotton mills now have special training courses, and encouragement is being given to the establishment of suitable training schemes at other mills.
Would my right hon. Friend agree that an increase of 4,000 in one year is a substantial number and requires some positive action?
I am afraid my hon. Friend is quite wrong. When the figures are published I think he will find that they are lower for 1948 than for 1946, and I must compliment some of the employers in the textile industry on the excellent progress that is being made in accident prevention.
Will my right hon. Friend take into account the abnormal incidence of hernia and double hernia among power loom overlookers due to their lifting weavers' beams by hand; and will he encourage employers, as far as it is in his power, to extend the use of mobile lifting equipment?
We are giving publicity to one mill which has established mechanical handling throughout, and we hope by that means to encourage other employers to do the same thing.