HC Deb 01 May 1884 vol 287 cc1048-9

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If his attention has been called to the frequent deaths among the men in one of the tan yards in Bermondsey, from a disease affecting cattle in foreign countries, called "charbon," and which is inoculated upon persons handling the hides of animals which were affected with the disease which is very fatal to human beings; and, as the families of the men so dying have been unable to obtain compensation under the Employers' Liability Act, if he will make such inquiries as will enable them to make better provision for the safety of the men working in these yards; and, if possible, to ensure some compensation to their families on their death?


We have not failed to observe the occurrence of anthrax or charbon among persons engaged in the hide and skin trades of Bermondsey, and have caused inquiry to be made by one of our Medical Inspectors—the Inspector who recently investigated the same disease as it occurred among wool sorters in and about Bradford. In all, during the past 11 years, between 40 and 50 cases of anthrax, about a quarter of them fatal, are known to have occurred in the Me- tropolis among persons thus engaged, about half this number of cases and of deaths having occurred during the last two years. They have not been restricted to one single tanyard. A Report on the subject has been presented to Parliament, and will soon be in the hands of Members. The more recent aspects of the matter, however, are now being inquired into. Pending this inquiry, it would be premature to consider whether the Employers' Liability Act should be extended to meet cases of persons dying from the disease referred to, so as to give compensation to their families.