HC Deb 03 July 1868 vol 193 cc654-5

, who had given Notice that he would call attention to the danger arising to life and property form the careless use of Lucifer Matches, said, at this late period of the Session, when he could not hope to arrive at any satisfactory or practical result on the subject of the Notice standing in his name on the Paper, he did not think that he would be justified, although the opportunities of doing so were not very numerous, in proceeding with it, particularly when he took into consideration the large amount of important Business still remaining to be got over: he should, therefore, withdraw his Notice. Perhaps, however, the House would allow him to make a very few remarks, to show his reasons for bringing the matter forward. A large number of fires, causing very great damage to property, in his own and adjoining counties, had occurred lately from the careless use of lucifer matches. This was considered to be so serious that last year, at the Assizes in Suffolk, the Grand Jury, of which he was foreman, made a Presentment on the subject; it was a rare thing in that county for a Presentment to be made, but so many cases of arson came before them, proved to have arisen chiefly from children playing with, and having easy access to, lucifer matches, that they thought it right to do so. The number of fires arising from the same cause increased through the winter, and the case became a still more serious one. To show the amount of damage done by the careless use of lucifer matches, he would mention that the Norwich Union Fire Insurance Office, which insures one-seventh of the whole agricultural property and farming stock in the country, paid in three years for insurances for damage done by 133 fires no less than £13,462, calculating on that basis, the amount paid throughout the country by Insurance Offices for insured property of this class would be £94,234, for damage done by 931 fires caused entirely by the indiscriminate sale and use of these articles; and when it was considered what the amount would probably be on uninsured property not taken into calculation, this was a very serious matter indeed. In the Report of the Evidence before a Select Committee of the House last year on Fire Protection, in answer to a question put as to the amount of the payments made for insurances by the Sun Fire Office for fires arising from the same cause, the gentleman representing that office stated that they were no less than £10,000 a year. He hoped he had justified himself for having placed the Notice on the Paper, and shown that the subject was an important one. He would put off any further remarks to some future opportunity, and would content himself now with the few observations he had made. Ho wished merely to press upon the Government the importance of the question, with a hope that they might consider it with a view to some remedy.