asked the Home Secretary whether he has received the report of the committee of experts that has been investigating the problem of silicosis and anthracosis in the South Wales coalfield; and, if so, what is the nature of the report; and when is it proposed to take steps to widen the provisions of the various industries (silicosis) schemes so as to enable those now denied compensation under those schemes, and who have to depend on public assistance, to claim compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act?
The committee of experts to which the hon. Member refers was appointed by the Medical Research Council, and I understand that they have made some suggestions to the council for further research and that these are at present under consideration by the council. As regards the general position, I am afraid I cannot add anything to the statement which I made in reply to a question by the hon. Member on 16th July, when I explained that, in the present state of medical knowledge, it is impossible to say whether mineworkers with pulmonary disease other than silicosis are suffering from any form of illness which can be distinguished as occupational and made the subject of a right to compensation.
Is the Under-Secretary not aware that there is an increasing and continuing number of men who fail to continue their work because of lung trouble which their own medical adviser has said is due to their occupation, but that they cannot get compensation, and in view of the urgency of the matter to men who are condemned to a living death, will he not expedite this inquiry so that they may obtain justice?
I appreciate the anxiety of the hon. Gentleman, but the remarks which he has made prejudge the results of this inquiry, which is to ascertain whether this condition is caused by the occupation.
May I ask whether, pending the report of the inquiry, he can tell us exactly who appoints the medical boards in various parts of the country, and what qualifications they have to fulfil their position?