Lead (Code of Practice)

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th July 1988.

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Photo of Mr Terry Patchett Mr Terry Patchett , Barnsley East 12:00 am, 5th July 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will extend to men the approved code of practice for the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 1980.

Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls , Teignbridge

The approved code of practice for the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 1980 already applies to both men and women.

Photo of Mr Terry Patchett Mr Terry Patchett , Barnsley East

Is the Minister aware that recent studies in the United States and the United Kingdom have shown that lead can damage the fertility of men as well as of women workers?

Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls , Teignbridge

I appreciate that there has been speculation along those lines. Obviously, we keep those matters under review, but our best information at present is that men are properly protected on the basis of 70 microgrammes per 100 ml of blood. If there were proper evidence to the contrary, we would consider it.

Photo of Ms Jo Richardson Ms Jo Richardson , Barking

Does not the Minister always hide under the cloak of equality when lowering standards of health and safety at work? He removes protective legislation from women, whereas he should be leaving that legislation for women and ensuring, across the board, that it is extended to men. We are in favour of equality for both the sexes, not just one.

Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls , Teignbridge

The short answer to the hon. Lady's question is no, but obviously there is a biological difference between men and women and those factors are taken into account when deciding what the correct lead levels should be. Women of reproductive capacity have to be protected, and that poses different medical and biological implications from those posed by the protection of men.