asked the Minister of National Insurance if he is yet in a position to make a statement about bringing persons who are entitled to payments under the original Workmen's Compensation Acts within the scope of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, 1946.
I regret that I am not yet in a position to make any further statement on this matter.
Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that he wrote to me in January saying that he hoped to make a statement in the middle of 1949, and can he now indicate when he is likely to make that statement?
I indicated to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and indeed to the House, some time ago that it was very desirable to have some experience of the working of the new scheme before we made up our minds about this problem. We have now had about 10 months' experience and the whole position is being re-examined. I would not like to say when we can come to a decision.
Is the Minister aware that the liability for paying compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act rests upon the employers or the insurance companies, and if he is going to make any arrangement for transferring this liability will he make it on a commercial and financial basis rather than as a gift to the insurance companies?
Of course, it will have to be on what my hon. Friend calls a "commercial basis." We shall take over the liability for which the employers are responsible, and shall expect them to meet that liability if it is practicable for them to do so.
In considering this matter, will my right hon. Friend have regard, in particular, to the case of industrial diseases, and is he aware that there is now very real doubt whether a man who suffers a recurrence of a certifiable industrial disease after 5th July, 1948, can successfully claim under either scheme?
That is another question.
Will my right hon. Friend make it clear that if and when the time comes for these liabilities to be taken over, no recipient of workmen's compensation will be put in a worse position under the new scheme than he was under the old Act?
That is one of the problems to which we have to give attention. It will be within my hon. Friend's knowledge that men injured or disabled prior to 5th July are now entitled—and, indeed, many hundreds are receiving it—to supplementary benefit under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act.