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During my lifetime I have had numerous accidents at work and have the scars to prove it. However, being self-employed, I knew that no disablement benefit was due to me, and that was acceptable. What is not acceptable is the proposal that no benefit should be paid for disablement below 14 per cent., whether temporary or permanent. If it is accepted, many quite serious injuries will go uncompensated. For example, a middle finger is rated at 12 per cent. For those who work in my constituency's largest industry, coal mining, such a loss is commonplace. Many other injuries, involving the eyes, back and knees and resulting in permanent disability, attract assessments of less than 14 per cent. Taking away a benefit that has become part and parcel of the accepted service conditions of coal mining would be highly contentious and unacceptable to my constituents.
I can give my hon. Friend the Minister some information that might induce him to reconsider his decision. At Sherwood's 10 collieries it is normal to have five serious accidents a week per pit, making 50 in all, ranging from 1 per cent. upwards, with 80 per cent. of those accidents under 14 per cent. If my hon. Friend insists on this course of action, those who have suffered such injuries will receive no industrial benefit. I further remind him that, with 25 per cent. of my electorate working in an industry that suffers from a high incidence of industrial injuries, all permanent disabilities resulting from industrial accidents should attract basic disablement benefit. I shall vote accordingly.