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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.