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Factory Inspectorate (Strength)

Volume 644: debated on Wednesday 12 July 1961

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asked the Minister of Labour what is the present strength of the Factory Inspectorate, in both its general and specialised branches; and whether, in view of the increase in industrial accidents, he will make a substantial increase in the establishment to enable workplaces to be inspected more frequently.

On 3rd July, 1961, in addition to the chief inspector and four deputy chief inspectors, 339 inspectors were employed in the general inspectorate and 71 in the specialist branches. I keep the establishment of the Factory Inspectorate under constant review and I shall certainly bear this factor in mind when I consider the forthcoming Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories.

Are there not a number of urgent reasons for increasing the establishment? Does the Minister agree that the increase in accidents is alarming and that the frequency of inspection is one aspect of the problem which is under his direct control? Does he agree that we are inspecting our industrial establishments far less frequently than the standards laid down by the I.L.O.? Does he also agree that the recent regulations issued by his Department have increased the burden on the inspectorate? For all those reasons, does he think that there is a chance that he will increase the establishment in the near future?

I cannot make any promise about that. In 1960, of the 219,526 factories on our register, 100,518 were visited.

Is it not a fact that the I.L.O. recommendation some years ago, which was endorsed by this country, laid down a standard of one visit per year for every factory? The figures which the Minister has just given represent about one visit every two years or even less.

I note what the hon. Member said, but although we accepted the recommendation at the time, our binding obligations relate to the 1947 Convention and not to the recommendation.