HC Deb 10 February 1865 vol 177 cc135-6

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, When it is probable the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the circumstances attending the practice, construction, storage, and general arrangement of the Government powder magazines throughout the kingdom will make their Report; and whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce, daring the present Session, a Bill to compel the owners of public buildings to provide sufficient means of escape in the case of fire?


said, the Question referred in terms only to the powder magazines belonging to the Government; but perhaps it would be better that he should state the course which the Government had taken in respect to powder magazines generally, since the lamentable explosion at Erith. In November last the Secretary for War appointed a committee of five officers, of which Sir John Burgoyne was Chairman, to investigate the present state of gunpowder magazines in the different places under the War Department, and to report as to the measures which could be adopted, consistently with the requirements of the public service, for giving increased security to persons residing in their neighbourhood. That committee was diligently prosecuting its inquiries, and in the course of it had suggested practical improvements which could be carried into effect at once. The subject, however, was such a large one that some time must elapse before the committee could present their General Report. In addition to that, Captain Boxer had been directed to inquire into the causes and circumstances attending the explosion at Erith. He had done so, and had made a very full Report. He was subsequently instructed by him (Sir George Grey), with the consent of the Secretary of War, to inquire into the state of gunpowder magazines generally throughout the country, not belonging to the Government, and his Report upon that subject had been received only within the last few days. It contained valuable information and suggestions, and it would receive careful attention, with a view to those amendments of the law which appeared to be necessary.