HC Deb 23 May 1898 vol 58 cc339-40
MR. COGHILL (Stoke-upon-Trent)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Homo Department if he contemplates the appointment of an additional inspector or sub-inspector for the North Staffordshire Potteries district, whose duties shall be confined entirely to the Potteries, and who shall reside permanently in the district; and whether, if he makes such an appointment, he will select a person for the post who has a practical knowledge of the pottery trade, and who is thoroughly conversant with the conditions in which it is carried on?


The district inspector, who resides in the Potteries, is already by long experience thoroughly conversant with the conditions under which the several processes of the trade are carried on, with the dangers incurred, and with the structural appliances and administrative measures best adapted for prevention of injury to health in each branch. I have given him the assistance of an additional junior inspector, also resident in the district, which will entitle him to give full attention to the pottery works and to the enforcement of the special rules.

MR. WOODALL (Hanley)

Perhaps it will be convenient for the right honourable Gentleman to say whether he is now prepared to name the scientific experts to whom he proposes to confide the promised inquiry into the deleterious consequences attributed to the use of lead in the glazing and decoration of pottery; whether he will state the terms of the reference on which their investigation are to be conducted; whether he has caused inquiries to be made as to any steps that have been taken under the direction of Continental Governments in a similar direction; and when the result of such inquiries will be made known?


I have appointed two experts—one of them a chemist, Dr. Thorpe, the head of the Government Laboratory, the other a medical man, Dr. Oliver, who has served already on several dangerous trades committees. I have left the scope of the inquiry to some extent to the discretion of the experts, who will be able to follow up any line of inquiry which seems likely to lead to useful results. The main point, however, will be to ascertain the extent to which various materials recommended as harmless substitutes for carbonate of lead are free from the dangers attending the latter. The suitability of these materials for the purposes of the trade is mainly a question for the manufacturers, but it is possible on this point also the experts may render some assistance. Inquiries have been addressed to the Chief Foreign Governments on the subject mentioned, but their replies have not yet been received.


May I ask whether the head inspector in charge of the Potteries district is not the official under whom the district hag fallen into its present condition?


No doubt the danger has increased of late, but constant attention is being paid to it, and I am sure that I have no inspector more thoroughly conversant with the work and better able to advise on the subject.