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Workmen's Compensation Act, 1943

Workmen's Compensation Act, 1943

Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/PU/1/1943/6&7G6c6

The 1943 Workmen's Compensation Act was the first major piece of legislation to deal with pneumoconiosis (a lung disease that affected a large amount of mining communities). One of its most significant limitations, however, was the restriction of compensation cases to workers employed in the industry between 1934 and 1942 – a challenge for those who had become disabled from work in the industry prior to 1934. It was also rather old fashioned in its treatment of those whose disablement involved the loss of a limb. Rather than, as it would become after the Second World War, being based on a percentage relating to the loss of physical capacity, compensation was based instead on the earning power of the individual.

How was S.O. Davies involved with the Workmen's Compensation Act (1943)?

Before the passing of the Act, the parliamentary miners' group, of which S.O. Davies was a part, sought to negotiate improvements to the Bill. In Parliament, Davies defended the sufferers of pneumoconiosis by insisting on the need to take into account partial disablement – which, given the nature of the disease, would get progressively worse in any case. He observed:

"I see in this Clause [Clause 2] an opportunity of doing something really substantial, not merely to establish a benefit scheme for those who are suffering from this disease, but to provide some organised, constructive, medical treatment for these people. We are still left with these old cases; they will not come under this medical scheme at all. They are the persons who have been before the Silicosis Medical Board and who have been certified as having this disease in a "well-established" or "moderately advanced" form. They are supposed to be partially capable of work. This disease is progressively eating up their lives, as it were, yet they will not be covered by this benefit scheme."

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