PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

HOUSE OF COMMONS

OFFICIAL REPORT

Fifth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation

DRAFT PNEUMOCONIOSIS ETC. (WORKERS' COMPENSATION) (PAYMENT OF CLAIMS) AMENDMENT REGULATIONS 1996

Tuesday 23 July 1996

LONDON: HMSO

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1

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman: Mr. Donald Anderson

Banks, Mr. Matthew (Southport)

Banks, Mr. Robert (Harrogate)

Beresford, Sir Paul (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment)

Brandreth, Mr. Gyles (City of Chester)

Carrington, Mr. Matthew (Fulham)

Clapham, Mr. Michael (Barnsley, West and Penistone)

Eagle, Ms Angela (Wallasey)

Hampson, Dr. Keith (Leeds, North-West)

Hinchliffe, Mr. David (Wakefield)

Hood, Mr. Jimmy (Clydesdale)

Hunt, Mr. David (Wirral, West)

McCartney, Mr. Ian (Makerfield)

Mahon, Mrs. Alice (Halifax)

Nicholls, Mr. Patrick (Teignbridge)

Peacock, Mrs. Elizabeth (Batley and Spen)

Smith, Mr. Tim (Beaconsfield)

Taylor, Mr. Matthew (Truro)

Tipping, Mr. Paddy (Sherwood)

Touhig, Mr. Don (Islwyn)

Mr. F. A. Cramer, Committee Clerk

2
3 Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation Tuesday 23 July 1996

[MR. DONALD ANDERSON in the Chair]

Draft Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers' Compensation) (Payment of Claims) Amendment Regulations 1996

4.30 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Sir Paul Beresford): I beg to move, That the Committee has considered the Draft Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers' Compensation) (Payment of Claims) Amendment Regulations 1996. First, welcome to this re-run. I must apologise—not quite on my knees, because that is not the done thing—for the clerical error about which we were enlightened last time.

Mr. David Hinchliffe (Wakefield): It is a resignation issue.

Sir Paul Beresford: Do not tempt me. I am especially grateful to the hon. Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) and my hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Spen (Mrs. Peacock), who is not with us today, but who made her point at our last meeting and has done so regularly and vigorously since. The regulations were originally laid before the House on 27 June. A Standing Committee sat on 16 July, at which discussions were held. We had to withdraw the original draft because of the incorrect figure. The corrected figure is before us today, and I commend the regulations to the Committee.

4.31 pm

Mr. Ian McCartney (Makerfield): I want to express my thanks to the Minister and his staff for writing to me immediately after Committee that first considered 4 the regulations, not just to apologise but, more importantly, to set out the procedures that the Minister would use to correct the error. I thank him for that prompt action. I shall not labour the point and ask the Minister to lie prostrate before the Committee. If the general election result goes the right way, Labour Members may well face similar problems from time to time. Having a long memory in politics, I prefer to put the error down to experience. I would hate to think that the hon. Gentleman could in future come back and bounce me all over the Room for an over-enthusiastic remark about a genuine error that occurred during the construction of the regulations. At our previous sitting, I mentioned fears over whether information was being collected about cancer of the larynx. I received two written answers from the Minister of State for Health. The first question was: "To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research has been commissioned by his Department into links between the use of asbestos and cancer of the larynx."—{Official Report, 14 May 1996; Vol. 277, c. 417.} I received the answer, "None." Can I ask the Minister to take up that serious issue? The second question concerned the availability of figures for the incidence of cancer of the larynx and its relationship to asbestos. The answer, which I received from the Minister of State for Health on 16 May, was that information was not collected by the Department. That is a major error. The matter should be clarified and taken up urgently. If the Minister can assure me that will be done, we shall let the regulations proceed with haste.

4.33 pm

Sir Paul Beresford: The hon. Gentleman and others should receive a letter later today; I plan to sign it today. I have already taken action and written to both of the appropriate Departments on those two points. Before I sign the letter, I shall consider the two questions that the hon. Gentleman mentioned. If there is a slight delay, and the hon. Gentleman has not received the letter by this evening, that will be the reason.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved. That the Committee has considered the draft Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers' Compensation) (Payment of Claims) Amendment Regulations 1996.

Committee rose at twenty-seven minutes to Five o'clock.

THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:

Anderson, Mr. Donald (Chairman)

Banks, Mr. Matthew

Banks, Mr. Robert

Beresford, Sir Paul

Brandreth, Mr.

Carrington, Mr.

Clapham, Mr.

Hinchliffe, Mr.

Hunt, Mr. David

McCartney, Mr.

Smith, Mr. Tim

Tipping, Mr.