HC Deb 07 June 1898 vol 58 cc874-5
MR. HEDDERWICK (Wick Burghs)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, having regard to the large number of women and children employed and subjected to the risk of slow poisoning by lead in English potteries, he will consent to appoint a lady inspector for the purpose of protecting, as far as may be, the interests of these workers in their unhealthy and dangerous occupation; and whether he can see his way to prohibit the use of lead in glazing processes in potteries altogether, or to bring such processes within the scope and operation of the Workmen's Compensation Act?


The honourable Member is evidently unaware that the existing staff of lady inspectors has already done most useful work in the Potteries district, and will continue to be available in future as often and for as long as may be necessary. I am most sensible of the value of inspection by women in this industry, and shall not hesitate to increase the staff if I find it necessary, though the most urgent need in the dangerous trades appears to me to be the appointment of a medical inspector—a matter which I am carefully considering. I am in hopes that the use of dangerous glazes will diminish, and, as the honourable Member must remember, I have appointed experts to inquire into the subject, and am making inquiries abroad. I have no power, however, to prohibit the use of lead entirely. The extension of the Workmen's Compensation Act, which the honourable Member suggests, would require legislation which I am not prepared to propose; but I trust that the new special rules will materially diminish the dangers to which the workpeople are exposed.

MR. LAMBERT (Devon, South Molton)

Has the right honourable Gentleman definitely decided to increase the number of lady inspectors?


No, Sir; I Lave not said that. I stated that the whole subject was under consideration.