HC Deb 03 May 1898 vol 57 cc171-3

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to an inquest held at Bow on Saturday concerning the death from "phossy-jaw" of a match dipper, aged 22, employed at Bryant and May's, and to the coroner's remarks upon the conduct of the manager of the factory; and whether he will consider if the time has come to prohibit the manufacture and importation of the class of matches requiring the employment of the more dangerous kind of phosphorus?


At the same time may I ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the report of an inquest held at Bow, on Saturday last, on the body of Cornelius Lean, lately employed at the match factory of Messrs. Bryant and May, from which it appears that Lean was poisoned by the yellow phosphorus used in the manufacture; that the factory doctor, who admitted that the death was due to "phossy-jaw," gave no indication of this fact on the certificate of death; and that the coroner commented on the apparent desire to hush the whole matter up; whether the factory doctor gave the notice to the chief inspector of factories, required by sub-section (1) of section 29 of the Factory Act, 1895; whether the occupier of the factory gave the notices to the inspector and to the certifying surgeon for the district, required by sub-section (3) of the same section; whether an inspector, or some person on behalf of the Secretary of State, was present at the inquest to watch the proceedings, in accordance with section 19 of the same Act; if not, did the coroner send to the inspector the notice of the holding of the inquest, required by that section; and, if such notice was sent, why did not the inspector attend; and what steps does he now propose to take in the matter?


My attention has been called to the inquest. The case was not notified either by the occupier or by the factory doctor, and the explanation given by the latter, that he was not sure of the diagnosis, appears to me to be far from satisfactory. In addition to the provisions in section 29 of the Act of 1895, the special rules in force in the factory require every case where there is any symptom of necrosis to be reported. The factory inspector attended the inquest and has visited the works. He reports that in other respects the special rules are well observed. I propose to make further inquiry into the case. No other case of phosphorus poisoning has been reported since the Act of 1895, and the evidence seems at present insufficient to justify the unconditional prohibition of the use of yellow phosphorus.

MR. R. McKENNA (Monmouth, N.)

Has the factory doctor rendered himself liable to any penalty?


That is a question I would rather not deal with offhand.