asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether his Department has commissioned any research from the pneumoconiosis research unit in the South Glamorgan area health authority.
The Welsh Office has not commissioned any research at the Medical Research Council's pneumoconiosis research unit at Llandough hospital, but the work carried out there on occupational lung disease is directly relevant to health problems in Wales.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the recent statement by the former director of the unit suggesting that it was "withering away"? Is that not a serious statement from someone who was concerned with research that has been vital for Wales, and, more recently, for Cornish tin miners, in relation to industrial chest diseases?
I understand that the director retired early and that he made some comments to the press, which I read with interest. I have no reason to believe that the future of the unit is in jeopardy. It is dominated by the Medical Research Council, which is sponsored by the Department of Education and Science, and I understand that another director is to be appointed.
Is the Under-Secretary aware of the poor progress being made in the tripartite talks on pnuemoconiosis between the Government, the NCB and the NUM? Is there nothing that the Secretary of State can do for an area that is more blighted by pneumoconiosis than any other part of the United Kingdom?
The problem has been with us for a considerable time, but I think that the hon. Gentleman will agree that much has been done over the years. The unit at Llandough is already conducting a major research programme on matters of special interest to Wales.