§ SIR E. BIRKBECK (Norfolk, E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the very strong feeling expressed by shopkeepers and dealers in petroleum lamp oil in country towns and villages against the proposals 1847 contained in the Inflammable Liquids Bill; and whether he will agree to exempt small towns and villages from coming under the provisions of the Bill as far as petroleum lamp oil is concerned?
§ MR. H. GARDNER (Essex, Saffron Walden)
May I further ask whether it is not a fact that petroleum oil affords the light principally used in rural districts by the poorer classes?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
The oil is, I believe, largely used by the poorer classes. I have seen a large number of printed circulars directed against this Bill; but these representations seem to proceed upon a considerable misapprehension as to the provisions and effect of the measure and wholly ignore the appeals made to the Government by public and local bodies of great importance, protesting against the danger arising from the existing state of the law. As to the exemption suggested by my hon. Friend I am unable to say at present whether it could be safely permitted; but I think that such a question might properly engage the attention of a Select Committee when the Bill reaches that stage. I venture, however, to remind my hon. Friend of the disastrous fire at Sutton in 1886 when five lives were lost.