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Industrial Injuries and Diseases

Part of Orders of the Day — Social Security Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 20th May 1986.

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Photo of Mr Bill Michie Mr Bill Michie , Sheffield, Heeley 6:30 pm, 20th May 1986

I spent the whole of my working life outside Parliament in industry. It is a sad day when this Parliament discusses taking away so many of the advantages that were gained over many years by people who were dedicated to helping those who work in dangerous environments and to getting society in general to recognise that there are dangers. People should be able to take comfort from the knowledge that at least they will be provided with some compensation if they find that they are in difficulties.

Shop stewards spent many years fighting to ensure that proper compensation was provided for those who were injured. This helped not just those who were injured physically or psychologically. It prompted industrialists to create better working conditions that helped to avoid many of the accidents that would otherwise have occurred. It was a two-pronged effort. It provided a stimulus to co-operation between management and work force in order to create an environment that prevents as many accidents as possible. There are bound to be industrial accidents. However small an injury may be, there ought to be compensation for it.

Many of the problems relate not just to physical injury but to the psychological effect of the injury on the injured. The character of the person will determine the amount of psychological damage that is done. We cannot close our eyes to that problem. Members of Parliament cannot say, "Oh, it's only a finger, so it does not matter very much." It matters a great deal to many people. I should not volunteer to have a finger chopped off just to prove the point that it really does not matter. It is important to provide as much protection as possible for those who work in dangerous occupations. We do not want to return to the dark ages when it did not matter whether a worker was injured, or even killed. However, that is the aim of this part of the Bill.