HC Deb 30 April 1900 vol 82 cc280-1
* SIR J. LENG (Dundee)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has observed that the Reports of the Registrar General show that the scheduling of poisons has greatly diminished the number of fatalities from the accidental or suicidal use, and has not interfered with the use of potent poisons such as arsenic and potassium cyanide, for industrial purposes, while from the Report for 1898, recently issued, it appears that the fatalities from carbolic acid alone number 206, being nearly as many as for the whole of the scheduled poisons; whether he is aware that since he stated last session that the Privy Council are prepared to consider whether carbolic acid can be advantageously dealt with in some way, but cannot take any step except on the resolution of the Pharmaceutical Society, the Council of that Society have passed a resolution declaring that carbolic acid in crystals, commercial carbolic acid, and liquids containing more than 3 per cent. of phenol are to be deemed poisons and added to the second part of Schedule A of the Pharmacy Act; whether, although that resolution was communicated to the Privy Council in July last, it has not yet sanctioned the resolution; and, whether he will represent to the Privy Council the expediency of at once giving effect to it with the view of preventing many cases of suffering and death.


Without going in detail into the first paragraph of the question, I think there is no doubt that the number of deaths caused by carbolic acid is deplorably great, and shows that some remedy is desirable. I am informed that the Pharmaceutical Society have passed a resolution in the terms quoted by the hon. Member; but I must explain that the matter is by no means a simple one. It is, however, now under the active con- sideration of the Departments concerned in consultation with the society, with good prospects, I hope, of steps being taken in the direction desired.


Can we not have systematic returns dealing with this highly important matter?


It is not a question of getting returns through my Department, it is rather one of forms.