§ VISCOUNT ENFIELD
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether any Government Inspector has lately visited the Powder Mills at Hounslow, the scene of a recent explosion attended with loss of life, and has reported as to the probable security of that establishment; and, whether the regulations of the Gunpowder Act (23 and 24 Vict. c. 139) are or are not habitually enforced for the proper management and supervision of Gunpowder Mills and Magazines, and the protection of the lives of all employed in them, and of those who live in their neighbourhood?
said, in reply, that there was no permanent inspector of gun- 516 powder manufactories at the Home Office; but whenever application for inspection was made directions were given by the Secretary of State for the purpose, if the special circumstances of the case appeared to warrant it. Such a demand was made about three years ago. A competent officer was sent thereupon to inquire into the condition and management of the powder mills at Hounslow, and his Report was entirely satisfactory. The explosion to which the question referred appeared, as far as had been ascertained—for as yet there had not been a full inquiry before the coroner—to have been caused by some accident to the machinery; the loss of life and injuries inflicted were confined to the premises of the powder mills themselves, and there did not appear to be any danger to those residing in the neighbourhood. With respect to the regulations under the Gunpowder Act, he had no reason to believe that they had not been regularly observed. The gentlemen to whom the establishment belonged had always shown a great desire to do everything in their power to protect their workmen, and from all he could hear there had been no defect of vigilance on the part of the local authorities.