Bronchitis and Pneumoconiosis

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th April 1964.

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Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North 12:00 am, 27th April 1964

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what was the source of his information that more wives of miners suffer from bronchitis than miners; and if he will give the relative figures.

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

I am sorry that my Answer to the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) last Monday was rather imprecise. I had in mind the Registrar General's last Decennial Supplement on Occupational Mortality, which shows that the mortality from bronchitis among coalmine workers under the age of 65 was 35 peg cent. higher than in the general male population of the same age, but for the wives the comparable figure was 75 per cent.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

Does not that show then that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Sir B. Stross) said earlier, there ought to be much more examination by the Minister of the connection between pneumoconiosis and general chest disability?

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

I think I told the hon. Lady last week that I was very ready indeed to consider any evidence which she or her hon. Friend, or any other source, liked to produce for me about the connection between bronchitis and any particular employment.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance in how many instances from 1st January, 1961, to the latest available date the Pneumoconiosis Medical Board, in assessing percentage of disability, attributed part of the disability to hypertension, thus reducing the benefit the man might otherwise have been awarded.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon , Wells

I regret that this information is not available.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

Does the Minister realise that a great many of these men who are examined for pneumoconiosis have a certain percentage of disability assessed but are not given industrial injury benefit because part of the disability is due to hypertension? Will he have this examined to see if there is any connection at all, as some medical people believe, between hypertension resulting from pneumoconiosis? Would he also find out something which, one gathers from his reply to the last Question, he did not know? There are many hundreds of men who are told by hospitals that they have pneumoconiosis, and by the Board that they have not. The Minister ought not to wait for one single example to be supplied by any hon. Member.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon , Wells

I will take the hon. Lady's last point first. I told her in a previous Answer to an earlier Question that errors occur, and we acknowledge that. However, the errors are small. Some claimants not diagnosed by the Board as having pneumoconiosis are found on subsequent death to have the disease, but the number is small. Similarly, errors occur the other way round. Obviously, there will always be errors in such matters. Medical questions, however, such as the assessment of disablement, are entirely matters for the independent statutory authorities.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

Again I should like to ask the Minister—I think all in the House know that it is for the statutory authorities to decide—whether he will set up an inquiry to find out if there is any connection between pneumoconiosis and resulting hypertension?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon , Wells

We will certainly consider that question, but again, as the hon. Lady knows, when the assessment is made for a prescribed disease account is always taken of other diseases which are not prescribed but which may have a contributory effect.