HC Deb 06 November 1884 vol 293 c1112

asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether his attention has been called to the death of two children from suffocation by chlorine gas at the Soap and Alkali Works near Runcorn; whether he is aware that noxious vapours, destructive to vegetation and life, are constantly allowed to escape from these works; and, whether he will take steps to compel the owners of these works to adopt measures for the prevention of this danger in the neighbourhood in future?


We have made inquiry respecting the deaths of the two children referred to by the hon. Gentleman, and have to-day received a copy of the depositions made at the inquest and of the verdict of the jury. I regret to say that it is true that the deaths of two children were caused by an emission of chlorine gas from the bleaching powder plant of the Runcorn Soap and Alkali Company's works at Runcorn. This omission, the jury state in their verdict— Was due to an error of judgment, and to misadventure on the part of the man in charge in opening the door of a chamber at the works. The Reports received from the Inspector under the Alkali, &c. Works Regulation Act, 1881, as to the works in question have been satisfactory. So far from the Board being aware that noxious vapours destructive to vegetation and life are constantly allowed to escape from these works, they believe from the Report of their Chief Inspector under the Act that the escape of gas on the occasion referred to was altogether exceptional, and that the rule is that the requirements of the Act are fulfilled. The depositions which have been received to-day will be considered, with a view to determining whether the case is one for a prosecution under the Act.