Health and Safety at Work etc. Act

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd January 1979.

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Photo of Mr Greville Janner Mr Greville Janner , Leicester West 12:00 am, 23rd January 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is satisfied with the operation of section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Photo of Mr John Grant Mr John Grant , Islington Central

I am generally satisfied with the operation of section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act, but I am informed by the chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the matter is of course kept under review in the light of the Health and Safety Executive's enforcement experience.

Photo of Mr Greville Janner Mr Greville Janner , Leicester West

Is it not correct that there have been practically no prosecutions under this crucial section, despite the fact that manufacturers, designers, importers and suppliers are still marketing goods which are dangerous for use by other people at work?

Photo of Mr John Grant Mr John Grant , Islington Central

There have been about 50 prosecutions. I do not think that we should try to measure the effectiveness of legislation by the number of prosecutions. That might be a good measure of the prosperity of lawyers, as my hon. and learned Friend will agree, but it is not the right way to measure the effectiveness of legislation.

Photo of Mr David Madel Mr David Madel , Bedfordshire South

As section 6 requires that there is extensive research before a substance is marketed for industrial use, are the Government satisfied that imported substances from EEC countries undergo as rigorous research as they would if they were manufactured here?

Photo of Mr John Grant Mr John Grant , Islington Central

I am assured by the chairman of the Commission that the same conditions or qualifications and the same tests are applied to imported substances as to manufactured goods and substances from this country.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Keighley

Does not the Minister agree that more action needs to be taken before goods are in the distribution chain? So often, we find that defective goods are on sale and perhaps on the point of causing injury before action is taken. Could section 6 be a real means of ensuring that imports are properly controlled by perfectly valid and legitimate means? Should we not now exercise it? Will he pass on these views to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade?

Photo of Mr John Grant Mr John Grant , Islington Central

Yes, I will certainly pass on those views. If my hon. Friend is suggesting that there should be more examination at the port of entry, that would involve a considerable extension of the Health and Safety Executive's resources.