The term emphysema embraces a number of respiratory conditions, some of which are accepted as part of the pneumoconiosis disease process and taken into account in assessing disablement. On present evidence, the disease in general does not satisfy the requirements for prescription laid down in the Industrial Injuries Act.
Is my hon. Friend aware that many people are concerned at the fact that this long overdue reform has not been brought in by the Labour Government? Can he tell me whether any investigations have been going on into the question of scheduling an industry associated with the disease rather than the disease itself?
My hon. Friend, together with most people on both sides of the House who are interested in this matter, will be aware that the Ministry has been concerned with this problem for a long time. Some types of emphysema are known to occur in association with pneumoconiosis and are accepted as part of the pneumoconiosis disease process. In these circumstances the statutory authorities include any disablement due to these forms of emphysema in assessing disablement due to the prescribed disease. Naturally, as is known by my hon. Friend and others who are interested in mining, we are continuously trying to solve this very difficult problem.