HC Deb 05 June 1894 vol 25 cc410-1
MR. M'CARTAN (Down, S.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the inquest held in the city of Belfast on the 12th of May last, on the body of Francis Conlan, who came to his death from burns received by the explosion of an oil lamp as he was turning down the wick before going to bed; whether he is aware that the oil used in the lamp was an American oil known as the "Royal Daylight Oil," the flash point of which is about 828 Fahr.; whether he is aware that no Scotch oil flashes under 100° Fahr., and the bulk of it is much over this point; if the minimum allowed for oil supplied to the War Office is 105° Fahr.; and whether, considering the danger of the present minimum flash point, 73° Fahr., of lamp oils generally used by the working classes, he will cause inquiries to be made into the matter, or have a Committee appointed to investigate it, with a view to legislation on the subject?


Accidents with oil lamps do not as a rule come under my notice, and in Ireland I have no sort of jurisdiction in regard to the administration of the Petroleum Acts. In this case the only knowledge I possess of the accident in question is derived from the depositions of the coroner's inquest furnished by the hon. Member himself, and as to the flash point of this particular oil I have no information whatever. Further, I am unable to say what is the minimum flash point of Scotch oils or that of the oils-supplied to the War Office. As has been before more than once explained, the question of the relative safety of oils of particular flash points is an extremely debateable one, and it is open to the gravest doubt whether the raising of the flash point would tend to put a stop to accidents of this kind. It is one of the many points connected with amended petroleum legislation which would have to be carefully considered by a Committee, and I shall be glad if it is possible to constitute such a Committee, but in the present state of public business I cannot hold out any hope that fresh legislation on this very large and difficult subject could be successfully undertaken this Session.

MR. PAUL (Edinburgh, S.)

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, considering the constant loss of life from the ignition of highly inflammable oil on an ordinary summer's day, he will without loss of time appoint a small Committee to inquire into the simple question whether or not foreign oils are admitted into this country at a flash point inconsistent with safety?


That is a question on which experts are wholly at variance. Some are of opinion that these oils do not cause more injury than those which have a lower flash point. I cannot separate this question from the other questions connected with legislation on the subject, but I hope in a short time to arrange for the appointment of a Committee to consider the whole subject.