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Accidents

Volume 649: debated on Monday 13 November 1961

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1.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what research he is conducting, under the Industrial Injuries Act, into the causes, incidence and methods of prevention of accidents.

None, Sir. Responsibility in respect of such matters lies in general with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, and in respect of particular industries with my right hon. Friend concerned with that industry.

Am I wrong in assuming that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Pensions has statutory opportunities to do research in this field? Is there any reason why he is not doing it?

I think the hon. Member has in mind Section 73 of the Industrial Injuries Act. I am, in fact, operating those powers at the moment, not in respect of accidents, as mentioned in the Question, but for financing two research projects relating to diseases which might have some bearing on prescription.

In that case, is there any co-ordination with the Ministry of Labour or the Minister of Power in this matter?

Of course I keep in touch with my right hon. Friends, but no good would be done, and a great many wires would be crossed, if I were to try to enter into their responsibilities in respect of accident prevention.

As a great deal of information must come to the right hon. Gentleman's Department in connection with these claims—which run into vast numbers—is there not some advantage in direct liaison with the Ministry of Labour in regard to information collected in the right hon. Gentleman's Department?

Of course there is close liaison, and, as the hon. and learned Member says, my Department collects a lot of information that is useful to other Departments as a result of dealing with these large numbers of claims.

2.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will state the number of successful claims in 1959 and 1960 under the National Insurance (Industrial injuries) Act, in respect of accidents causing at least three days incapacity to persons subject to the Factory Acts; and what was the number of working days lost as a result of such accidents.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance
(Mr. Richard Sharples)

In dealing with claims for injury benefit, no distinction is made between persons covered by the Factories Acts and the many other persons whose injuries arise out of and in the course of their employment. I regret, therefore, that the information requested is not available.

Is it not desirable to try to obtain this information if only for one reason—that many reportable accidents are not so reported and that the right hon. Gentleman's Department is paying out in many more cases than the numbers which are reported? For example, the numbers reported last year were 190,000-odd, and it may well be that the number of claims which are made are greater than this. Should we not know the actual facts?

The Factories Act, 1961, Section 80, places the responsibility for reporting accidents to the Factory Inspectorate of the Ministry of Labour on occupiers of factories. The industrial injuries scheme covers a very much wider field, and we do not collect separate statistics of the accidents covered by the Factories Act.

Is it possible to say what proportion of the persons injured are subject to the Factories Act, because a number of hon. Members on this side of the House feel that there is a large area of industrial activity which is not protected and which ought to be protected.

Perhaps the hon. and learned Member would like to put down a Question on that.

Owing to the fact that the answer is not entirely satisfactory, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.