HC Deb 30 April 1850 vol 110 cc1053-8

rose to move for a Select Committee to inquire if any restrictions should be imposed by Parliament on the sale of poisons. The number of murders which had been perpetrated recently by poison, which could be procured with facility, particularly in the districts where it was used for agricultural purposes, was so great that he was sure the House would agree with him in the necessity of putting a stop to it. He proposed a Select Committee, that they might examine analytical chemists and medical men with the ultimate view of introducing a Bill to check the indiscriminate sale of poisons.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That a Select Committee he appointed to inquire if any restrictions (and if any, what restrictions) should be imposed by Parliament on the sale of Poisons.


said, the question was one of considerable importance, and the hon. Member was right in saying the practice of taking away life by such means had become more frequent than formerly. At the same time the detection of such crimes was extremely easy, and One advantage of the hon. Member's Motion was, that it gave opportunity for the expression of an opinion founded on experience, that the detection of murder by poison was so easy that few of them escaped. The subject, however, was under the consideration of the Government, and a Bill had been prepared on the sale of poisons. If the hon. Member had paid attention to the subject, he would know the great difficulty lay in the enumeration of the poisons to be included in the schedule; and he doubted if an inquiry, with the object of ascertaining, as the hon. Member suggested, by an examination of chemists and medical men, what course ought to be taken, would not produce more harm than good, by enabling persons to have recourse to other poisons than those now used to destroy life. Under these circumstances, he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Motion.


recommended the hon. Member to withdraw his Motion, after the intimation of the right hon. Gentleman, that Government had prepared a measure to remedy the evil. There was no man who possessed such means of judging upon such a subject as the Secretary of State for the Home Department.


observed, that when the Bill was brought in which the Government intended to introduce, it would be competent to the hon. Member for Reading to propose that it be referred to a Committee upstairs. Some time ago a Member of this House mentioned to him the danger that had been incurred by a whole neighbourhood in a certain locality from the careless use of arsenic, by which it became mixed with flour. He trusted that the Bill would provide for such cases of culpable neglect. He suggested to the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his Motion.


said, that under the circumstances stated to the House, he begged leave to withdraw his Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

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