§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ *MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
In rising to move the Second Reading of this Bill I do not anticipate it will be incumbent on me to make any excessive demand either on the time of the House or the patience of hon. Members who do me the honour to 267 listen to me. The object which the promoters of this Bill have in view is one which I venture to think will commend itself favourably to the judgment of hon. Members on both sides of the House. It is to prevent, as far as possible, the loss of life and the injury to person, not to mention the destruction of valuable property which is caused every year by the explosion of boilers. It may be, and probably will be, contended during the course of this debate that the loss of life and injury to persons from such a cause is very small compared with the number of steam boilers in use, but be the loss and the injury small or great, if we can prove, as I believe we can, that such loss and suffering arise from preventible causes, then I contend we shall have made out a case for further intervention on the part of the Legislature in the interests of the general community. It is now very generally admitted that the provisions of the Boilers Explosions Act of 1882 are utterly inadequate to meet the necessities of the case. Indeed, that was pointed out in the debate on the Second Reading of the Bill* by the hon. Member for West Edinburgh, who then represented the Birkenhead Division of Lancashire. He pointed out that the inquiry clause, which was the chief clause, was all very well in itself, but that if the proposed legislation were to be really effective, it should provide for a proper system of inspection. The Act of 1882 provides merely for an inquiry after an explosion has occurred. It merely proceeds to lock the door after the steed has been stolen. The Board of Trade are authorised by that Act, after an explosion has occurred, to institute an inquiry into the causes which led to it, and the commissioners making the inquiry are authorised to inflict a penalty if they are of opinion that the explosion was due to neglect or mismanagement on the part of the owner of the boiler. There is no single provision in the Act of 1882 that can by any ingenuity be construed into a preventive clause. The promoters of the Bill, which afterwards became the Act of 1882, relied solely on the moral effect of having an inquiry as being in their judgment sufficient to induce steam users to provide for a more frequent and complete examination of their boilers, and they hoped conse-*See The Parliamentary Debates [Third Series], Vol. cclxvi., commencing at page 1348.268 quently to be able to secure greater safety for human life and greater immunity from danger for persons employed in connection with boilers. That such was the case is clear from the language used by the hon. Member who at that time had charge of the Bill—the late Mr. Hugh Mason, who was then Member for Ashton-under-Lyne. In moving the Second Reading of the Bill he said—The promoters of the measure thought it best to take the steam users of the country into their confidence, and to show them that it was their interest as well as their duty to enrol themselves in one of the numerous voluntary associations for the inspection of boilers, and to induce them to do voluntarily what an Act of Parliament would require them to do perhaps unwillingly.The promoters relied chiefly on the moral effect which they thought would, be produced upon steam users by the fact that the Board of Trade could, under the Act, institute an inquiry, and inflict a penalty if it was discovered that the explosion was due to carelessness, neglect, or mismanagement. They believed that that would be sufficient to induce users of steam boilers to secure more careful and complete inspection of such boilers. But I think I am safe in saying that, after seventeen years' experience of the operations of that Act, the result has demonstrated very clearly that something more than moral pressure is required to induce a certain class of boiler owners to see to the proper safety and examination of their boilers. Since the Act came into operation the Board of Trade has held no less than 1,189 inquiries into cases in which the loss of life has been 502 and in which 1,544 persons have been injured. The average number of explosions, during the seventeen years over which the official reports extend, was 69.9 per annum, the average loss of life was 29.5, and the average number of persons injured was 61.3. As I have already intimated, it may be contended that this loss, and injury are small and that legislation is unnecessary to deal with the cases which exist, but I would like to point out to the House that these explosions are not, on the highest authority—the authority of a Government official—to be attributed to unpreventable causes. I should like, with the permission of the House, to read a short extract from a Report by the late Mr. Thomas Gray, who was Assistant 269 Secretary to the Marine Department of the Board of Trade. He was authorised, on behalf of the Board of Trade, to make an inquiry into the working of the Boilers Explosions Act, and that inquiry extended from the 12th of July, 1882, to the 30th of June, 1889. In his first Report he uses these words—The terms 'inevitable accident' and 'accident' are entirely inapplicable to these explosions. The reports show that so far from these explosions being accidental, the only accidental thing about many of them is that the explosions should have been so long deferred.In his second Report, Mr. Gray uses very similar language. He says—It is still true that the terms 'inevitable accident' and 'accident' are wholly inapplicable to these explosions, and in many cases it is difficult to understand how the explosions could have been so long deferred.Then he proceeds to say—The prevailing cause of explosions continues to be the unsound condition of the boilers, due to age or corrosion, and a notable feature in many cases is the neglect of the steam users to ascertain the condition of their boilers and consequently of any attempt on their part to repair, renew, or replace detective fittings.In succeeding Reports Mr. Gray uses precisely similar language, clearly indicating that the terms "accident" and "inevitable accident "are wholly inapplicable to the great majority of boiler explosions which are inquired into year by year by the Board of Trade. During the last four years inquiries have been held by the Board of Trade into cases where the total loss of life has been eighty-one, in addition to 136 persons injured. The Reports on these cases show that in not a single one of them has the court attributed the explosion to unavoidable accident, and of the sixty-eight cases which were inquired into last year in only one case did the Court find that no one was to blame for the explosion. Surely, in face of facts such as these, it will not be disputed that a case does exist for some further protective measures being adopted in order to provide a greater degree of safety for persons in charge of steam engines and boilers. I will now state briefly what the promoters of this Bill propose, and hon. Members will observe that there are two other Bills standing on the Order Paper dealing with the same question. If I am in order, I should like 270 to make one observation with regard to one of those Bills. The fundamental principle of our Bill is that it shall be obligatory on the part of owners of steam boilers to register the same in conformity with the provisions of the Act, if it becomes an Act. Such register we suggest shall be kept by the Board of Trade, who may, if they think fit, provide for the establishment of local or branch registers. The Bill of the hon. Baronet the Member for North-west Manchester proposes also under certain regulations that the Board of Trade should keep such a register. In the next place, we are insisting upon a compulsory examination and inspection of boilers by thoroughly qualified persons appointed by the Board of Trade. Hon. Members will observe that in the Bill it is stated that such inspectors must be boiler makers. I called the attention of the promoters of the Bill to this provision. I told them frankly that I myself could not support it, and I very frankly received from them an assent to the suggestion I now make, that we should not create a ring round any particular branch of industry or any particular class of working men, but that the utmost freedom and latitude should be given for the selection of thoroughly qualified persons to perform the duty of boiler inspectors. We are therefore perfectly willing to meet any opposition with regard to that part of the Bill with the greatest readiness and frankness. We also propose that there shall be not less than five examinations and inspections in each year—two not under steam and three while the boiler is in use. The powers which we propose to give to the inspectors are very similar to the powers now exercised by factory and mine inspectors under the Factories and Mines Inspection Act. These are the main lines upon which our Bill is drawn. I have already referred to the Bill of the hon. Baronet the Member for North-west Manchester. The Bill is, I believe, put forward chiefly by the members of the Manchester Steam Users' Association. That association has been in existence for nearly half a century, and I am willing to admit that during that time much valuable work has been done by it. It has been successful in inducing a number of steam users to have their boilers inspected periodically, and I have no doubt that a number of explosions which would otherwise have occurred 271 have consequently been prevented. Two of the main essentials of that Bill are precisely similar to our own; it insists upon registration and inspection of boilers being made compulsory. The point of difference between us—and it is a very important point—is that which relates to the inspection itself. We propose that the inspection shall be under the control of a Government Department; they prefer that the inspection shall be controlled by the great corporations and voluntary associations in existence in various parts of the country. There is a broad line of difference between us. We prefer a Government Department, because we believe it will have greater power and greater authority to enforce its recommendations than is possessed by corporations at the present time. I think we need only refer to one or two cases taken from the inspectors' reports to the Board of Trade to show that there is very strong ground for believing that if this question is left entirely to the local associations and great corporations the result will be unsatisfactory. I wish to call attention to the Red car case, which occurred on the 14th June, 1895, in which eleven boilers blew up at one time, killing twelve men and injuring seven others. These boilers were insured under what is known as the "group system" for a sum of £500. The insurance company had made an examination of the boilers prior to the explosion, and made certain recommendations to the owner, but they did not press the result of their investigation, and the explosion occurred, and lives were lost. Now, why did not the insurance company press home the result of their examination? The reason must be obvious to the mind of every hon. Gentleman. It was because they were afraid of losing custom. The competition in this class of insurance is excessively keen, and if they had pressed the result of their examination upon the attention of the owner of the boilers the result might be that he would withdraw his custom. I fear if we are to leave this question solely to be dealt with by voluntary corporations and associations we will not achieve the result which, at all events, the promoters of this Bill have in view. It is not punishment we seek; we seek to prevent explosions and the suffering and loss of life that frequently follow them. Take another typical case—the Halifax case—which occurred on the 23rd of May, 272 1895, in which five men were killed. The boiler was of the Cornish type, and it had been reduced by corrosion to such a deplorable condition that it was stated by the commissioner who made the inquiry that it had been reduced until it was in parts as thin as an old sixpence. In the opinion of the court of inquiry the dilapidated condition of that boiler was such that any ordinary individual, not merely an expert engineer or boilermaker, making an examination of the boiler would have been able to detect its dangerous condition, and yet that boiler was continued in use, and no examination was made, with the result I have stated to the House. In this case the owner of the boiler was charged with manslaughter, and tried at the Leeds Assizes. The jury, it is true, found a verdict of "Not guilty, "but at the investigation made by the Board of Trade under the Act of 1882, counsel for the owner used this very remarkable language—It must be obvious to the meanest intelligence that crass ignorance exists as to boilers and the conditions under which they ought to be used. It is lamentable that this should be so, and that the Legislature has not made it compulsory that dangerous articles like boilers should be inspected periodically for the personal protection of those working in their vicinity. There was no doubt that the owner worked this boiler under the honest conviction that he was doing so with perfect safety to himself and those employed by him.The point to which I wish to call attention is that in the opinion of counsel for the owner it was necessary that the Government should take further steps in order to secure greater immunity from danger to the general public. I do not know what line the Government intend to pursue with reference to this Bill, but I think they cannot rest content with things as they are. They cannot feel satisfied in allowing the present condition of things to remain. What we desire—and it is the sole object we have in view—is to prevent the loss of life and suffering which often follow in consequence of these explosions, and we are not disposed to complain of, or find fault with, any method or machinery that may be adopted so long as that object is attained. What we desire is that some method may be adopted, whether by a Government Department or by local corporations and insurance societies, whereby our view may be attained. We 273 are not disposed to complain of the method or the machinery by which that object is achieved. Furthermore, on my own responsibility, I would suggest that probably the best course that can be taken will be for the Government to allow this Bill and the two other Bills which stand on the Order Paper to have Second Reading, and that the whole subject be referred to a Select Committee, which would be able to take evidence from persons directly concerned, and which would, after taking full evidence, no doubt arrive at a conclusion which would commend itself to the Government. Doubtless if this course be taken we shall be able to get a Bill which will lead to a considerable improvement on the existing state of things. In this sense I therefore appeal very confidently to hon. Members on both sides of the House to give this Bill a Second Reading, together with the two other Bills on the Order Paper, so that the whole subject may be referred to a Select Committee. I beg to move, Sir.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY (Yorkshire, Shipley)
I very gladly associate myself with a great deal of the lucid and excellent speech of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Reading of this Bill. At the same time, there is a widespread opposition to the Bill and to the general principles which underlie it. I have no doubt the House will hear reasons against the general idea of a Bill of this character, which may or may not carry conviction. I do not share in that opposition, and while opposing certain parts of the Bill now under consideration, I desire to pronounce myself a supporter of the general principle of the measure—namely, further provision for the protection of life. No one who has studied this question can have failed to arrive at two conclusions. First, that there is a great and lamentable loss of life each year from boiler explosions; and second, that these explosions are almost entirely preventable. It is very seldom indeed that a boiler is found in an isolated position. In the nature of the case it is always either surrounded by factories or by railway passengers, or by a considerable portion of the general public, and, with the ever-increasing 274 density of our towns where boilers are for the most part used, the range of destruction from boiler explosions is increasing every year. If every boiler were built strong enough originally, and if it were preserved from weakening by corrosion as time goes on and skilfully tended, I have no hesitation in saying that there would be practically no boiler explosions. These conditions obtain in the Navy, and in the mercantile marine partly by legislation and partly by voluntary effort, and they also obtain in the great railway companies and other large concerns. But though in the Navy and the mercantile marine and in the best of our factories there is comparative safety, yet in the agricultural and traction engines, and the boilers of the humbler class of factories and works, there is great danger, and I venture to say that there are in those cases a larger number of accidents in proportion to the number of boilers used. I would point out that the only legislation of a preventable character applicable to the mercantile marine as regards boilers is that applying to ships which carry twelve or more passengers. In those cases a boiler must be inspected by a Board of Trade officer, and the ship must be licensed, but a railway boiler which might be used to drive a train carrying five hundred or more passengers has absolutely no Government inspection, and its safety is dependent entirely on the skill of the railway company's engineers. Again, a stationary boiler may be placed in the immediate neighbourhood of a crowded thoroughfare, and an agricultural boiler may be placed in the midst of a crowded farmyard in harvest time, and there are no other precautions against saving life other than the liberality, good faith, and sense of responsibility of the owners of the boilers. Unfortunately, in those cases, juries almost invariably bring in a verdict of unpreventable accident, and even in the Red car case, which has been referred to by my hon. friend, where it was admitted by the counsel for the defendant that different arrangements beforehand would have prevented the explosion, the jury practically stated that it was an unpreventable accident. On the other hand, I venture to declare in the strongest manner that there is scarcely a single boiler explosion which is in the nature of an unpreventable accident, and I challenge the hon. Member for South-west 275 Manchester, who laughs, to disprove that almost the entirety of such explosions can be prevented beforehand, either by the boilers themselves being in first-class condition, or by having entirely skilled persons who would be careful as well as skilled in the management of the boilers.
§ SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY
I desire to say that the great majority, and practically the whole of these accidents, are due to preventable causes, and are due either to the condition of the boiler or the lack of care and skill in its management. I would further point out that there are already large numbers of inspectors engaged in this work of examining boilers, such as those employed in the Admiralty, the mercantile marine, Lloyd's, and those employed by the great boiler insurance companies. These inspectors do their work extremely well, and if the owners of all the small second-hand boilers which are used under steam would enter voluntarily under the care either of the Government inspector or of the inspector of these societies, then with proper regulations by the Government there would be no need for this Bill. But it is to protect the public and the better class of manufacturers, who take every precaution, without regard to expense, for safety as well as to protect the workers, that legislation of this kind is necessary. There is no doubt whatever that the competition amongst boiler insurance companies in certain isolated cases has had a harmful effect on the precautions for safety. And it is clear that if the boiler insurance companies put pressure on their customers, to the great inconvenience of manufacturers, they risk the chance of losing their business, and by passing such a measure as this we will remove such a source of danger from competition. But, while admitting this, I fear that if the Bill is passed in its present state the army of inspectors would be increased to an alarming and unnecessary extent, and I do not think the promoters of the measure have sufficiently considered this point. Then, again, the inspectors who are at present appointed to do this work by the Admiralty, the Board of Trade, and the 276 voluntary associations are all engineers, and under these circumstances I am surprised to find in the measure a clause limiting the inspectors to boiler makers who have been apprenticed and who have worked for five years at least. If that clause were insisted on it would reduce the sphere of appointments not only to one trade but to one trade society, and I think that even the workers themselves would see that that would be a lamentable state of things. However, I am glad to see that, no matter what may be the result of this debate, the mover of the Bill and those who act with him have consented to the abolition of this limitation, and accepted the principle of the appointment of all persons who are competent. That there is a need for more reform is illustrated by the fact that the House has at this moment under consideration no less than four Bills dealing with the question. There are Bills of the hon. Baronet the Member for North-west Manchester, the hon. Member for Stockton, the present Bill, and the Factory Bill lately introduced by my right hon. friend the Home Secretary, which contains a clause which, so far as I understand it, provides that every boiler owner shall obtain a certificate of safety, and that that certificate shall be registered. If that is so, then the Government measure resembles very much the provisions of the Bill of of the hon. Baronet the Member for North-west Manchester, and that is a policy which will commend itself to many other hon. Members. I would suggest that each of these four Bills contains in it something that is good, and I therefore support the suggestion that they should all be referred to a Select Committee. The question is not easy of solution. There may be either compulsion or voluntaryism. If voluntaryism, it would be of the nature of compulsion in regard to those proposals in providing that a certificate of safety is necessary to be deposited by the boiler owner; but whether that compulsion shall be brought about by means of a Government inspector, or by inspectors chosen by the boiler owner, with his certificate deposited with the Government, it seems to me that there is no alternative to having some reform either in one direction or the other. I sincerely hope that the Home Secretary will agree to refer the whole question to a Select Committee, which would be a selective committee, and which could take out of 277 these Bills all that is good in them, and produce a good, substantial, sound, working measure. I hope the Home Secretary will not consider that it would be undignified to refer even a Government measure to a Select Committee, and if this is done I hope it will be the commencement of a reform which is very urgent, and would be distinctly useful not only to employers and workers, but to the general public, in the interests of safety.
§ *MR. EMMOTT (Oldham)
I think any new Member of this House who ventures for the first time to address it may reasonably claim its sympathy, unless his nerves happen to be made of cast iron. But in this case I claim a peculiar sympathy, because the subject before the House is a dry, difficult, and complicated one. The Bill which has been introduced in a very able and moderate speech, has objects with which I think all of us have the utmost sympathy. The safety of the life and limb of the great industrial classes of this country is an object for which not only employers of labour, but also legislators, ought, I think, to be very careful. In regard to this matter of boiler explosions, a matter to which I have given, from force of circumstances, very considerable attention, I must say my own opinion is that there is still a case for further legislation; and although I do not sympathise with most of the provisions of the Bill, I must say on the general question I consider it is high time that the matter was settled. Some thirty years ago, in 1870, a Select Committee was appointed to consider the question of boiler explosions. That Committee was reappointed in 1871, and reported in that year. Amongst the recommendations of that Committee there were: first, the duty of a steam user to procure a trustworthy boiler with proper fittings. They decided against the principle of compulsory inspection on certain grounds which they gave. The first was that explosions at that time occurred in one out of every 2,000 boilers in use. The second was that these often arose from causes with which inspection had nothing whatever to do. And another ground was that any measure of compulsory inspection would tend to lessen the responsibility of the owner and user of the boiler. Now, when the explosions of steam-generating boilers—for 278 it is the question of steam-generating boilers that the Committee considered—are one-fifth or one-sixth of what they were at that time, and when during the intervening thirty years the number of steam-generating boilers has enormously increased, the House is asked to commit itself to the principle of compulsory inspection. I do not object to that. It is a testimony to the increasing humanitarian feeling of the time—a feeling which, in an age often accused of being sordid and money grubbing, is, I think, very much to our credit. Eleven years later, in 1882, the Boilers Explosion Act was passed, and in that Act there is a very extraordinary definition of a boiler. It is—Any closed vessel used for generating steam, or for heating water or other liquids, or into which steam is admitted for heating, steaming, boiling, or other similar purposes.That definition of a boiler includes not only steam-generating boilers, but it includes also steam pipes, stop valves, steam engine cylinders, and evaporating vessels, such as tar cylinders, ammonia stills, etc. There were certain kinds of boilers not included in that Act of 1882, such as boilers on steamships, and boiler explosions, into which an inquiry might be held under the Coal Mines Regulation Act of 1872 and the Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act of 1872, were also excluded. There was also excluded from the purview of the Boilers Explosions Act railway boilers. But the remarkable point about that Act was that although there was such an elaborate and extended definition of a boiler, there was no definition whatever of a boiler explosion, and at the present moment we remain without any definition of what a boiler explosion is. In 1890 there were certain sections of boilers excluded from the purview of the Act of 1882 included among the boilers with which, in future, the Board of Trade had to deal. Having dealt with the history of matter, I will refer for a few moments to the statistics to which the hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division has referred, the statistics compiled by the Board of Trade. These statistics, I venture to say, are of little use to any but experts. I do not, of course, mean to bring any charge against those who have tabulated these statistics. I have as high an opinion as any Gentleman on the front bench as to the way the 279 members of the Civil Service perform their work, and therefore I do not bring any charge against them in regard to the manner in which these statistics are compiled. But anyone who has studied these statistics with any knowledge of the question must have seen that in the earlier years after 1882 there were obviously a large number of what are called boiler explosions under that Act which were not reported and therefore not taken cognisance of by the Board of Trade. I state that not merely because of the number, but from examining the character of the accidents. In the earlier years, for instance, there were no investigations by the Board of Trade into such accidents as the failure and explosion of steam pipes and valves. Since 1890 ships, of course, have come into the purview of the explosions into which the Board of Trade inspectors had to inquire, and therefore the statistics for the purposes of comparison are more or less vitiated by the fact. There is another matter which tends to upset them unless you allow for it, and that is that in every hard winter there are always a large number of explosions in circulating hot-water boilers in churches, etc., which would not occur in a mild winter. In the years 1893–4 there were twenty-three such explosions, and in 1894–5 twenty-seven of these explosions in hot-water circulating boilers, although in the following year there was not one inquired into. These statistics, like all other statistics, if they are fairly used may be of value, and I have endeavoured to tabulate the results of the last five years as fairly as I have been able to do so. The result of that tabulation is that the average number of explosions on ships during the last five years is 6.2, causing nine deaths, and out of these explosions an average of four of the boilers in question were under inspection by the Board of Trade or by Lloyd's. I mention that to show that inspection cannot do everything in regard to this matter. The average annual number of explosions in boilers upon land during the last five years was13.6, causing 24.6 deaths. There were seven out of these thirteen explosions that inspection might have prevented, and which caused 13.4 deaths, and five explosions, with 11.2 deaths, concerning which no inspection, however competent and thorough, could possibly have prevented; so that, as far 280 as regards the actual Bill before us, we are narrowed down to the consideration of these seven explosions and of 13.4 deaths, which is the average number that have occurred on land during the last five years which this Bill would have affected at all. Now, although the Board of Trade statistics, unless carefully analysed, cannot help us very much, there are certain statistics kept by the boiler insurance companies and other agencies, and these, as regards steam-generating boilers, show very clearly that explosions, and particularly deaths resulting from them, have enormously decreased during the last thirty years. Any faults in these statistics arise from acts of omission as regards the earlier years, and therefore in reference to the main argument I am making, any correction of these statistics would tend to intensify the reduction and not to diminish it. From 1866 to 1875 the average number of explosions in steam-generating boilers was 56 per annum, causing 63.6 deaths. In the ten years from 1888 to 1897 the average number of explosions in steam-generating boilers was 28.3, causing 1.45 deaths. Therefore, I say it is very clearly proved to anyone who looks into the matter fairly that, in spite of the faults of the present system, an enormous improvement in respect of steam-generating boilers has taken place. Well, Sir, what are the facts at the present time? I think, as regards inspection, it will be generally agreed that there are 90,000 to 100,000 steam-generating boilers inspected and insured, and there are, perhaps, 50,000 to 60,000 the majority of which are not inspected, and, of course, not insured. But even if we suppose that the total number of steam-generating boilers in this country is 150,000, and if we assume that half of that number only are inspected and insured, and half are not, the details that we can find from the Board of Trade returns of explosions in those boilers insured and inspected and those not insured and uninspected are very remarkable. There have been about seven explosions per annum of boilers insured and inspected, and there have been twenty-one or more explosions in boilers not inspected. Therefore, although there could not possibly be more than half of the boilers of the country not inspected at the present time, it is manifest that the great majority of explosions occur in those boilers which are not inspected. 281 That is an argument in favour of compulsory inspection. The insurance companies have been more or less attacked in regard to this matter, although I acknowledge the moderation of the hon. Member for Wansbeck. I think I ought to tell the House that I am a director of one of the boiler insurance companies. In fact, that is the reason I have had to look into the matter so closely, and I think it is only fair to those companies to state that, having looked into this matter, out of the seven explosions per annum in boilers which were inspected and insured only about two could possibly have been prevented by inspection; whilst there were five that arose from faults in attendance with which inspection could not deal. That is to say, if there are some 80,000 boilers at the present time inspected and insured, not more than one in each 40,000 exploded in the course of every year in which inspection could have prevented the explosion. I think that is a remarkable result as regards insurance companies, and a result in regard to which those companies may feel that they have done a considerable service to boiler owners and users. The statistics with regard to foreign nations, which I am sorry to say we do not possess in any complete form, are by no means satisfactory. The statistics with regard to France, where there is compulsory Government inspection, show something like one explosion in every 3,000 boilers. I am free to admit that insurance companies do not cover the ground at the present time. In the first place, inspection is not compulsory, and in many cases the very worst boilers still remained uninspected in this country. Then, in the second place, inspectors of voluntary associations cannot insist upon any change. The only remedy insurance companies have is to refuse to insure boilers; and that, I may say, from my own personal knowledge, they do very largely. Lastly, on that point the inquiries held by the Board of Trade in regard to boiler explosions have been of enormous assistance in inducing owners to have their boilers inspected, and in many cases insured. That is important, because they have shown what danger may arise from these boilers to which no proper inspection is applied from time to time. I am really delaying the House too long. May I say one word about the Bill itself? One matter that requires 282 attention is the definition of boilers, which is the same as that of the 1882 Act. It is further provided in the Bill that each boiler must be registered under a separate number, and the maker's name must be marked upon it. If a boiler includes, as it would under this Bill, not only a steam-generating boiler, but every range of steam pipes, every stop valve, every cylinder, every evaporating vessel in which steam is used in this country, I must say the Bill presents us with rather a large order; and I must say that it would be very difficult, if not almost impossible, to work this Bill satisfactorily. In the next place the Bill insists on two complete examinations in the course of twelve months. I would appeal to the opinion of any practical experts on this matter whether one inspection in the twelve months is not sufficient in any ordinary case. Where there is any kind of danger inspectors certainly ought to have the right of insisting upon having another inspection; but in the ordinary way one inspection in a year is amply sufficient for the purpose. Sub-section 4 of Clause 5of the Bill gives an inspector power to stop any unsafe boiler. The question of the safety of boilers is a highly technical matter, and there are no standards of safety at the present time recognised by experts. If you give an inspector the power to stop a boiler at any moment he chooses, do let us have a definite standard of safety. The boilermakers clause I need not allude to, because the hon. Member does not defend it. I wonder whether the House knows what the cost of this measure is likely to be. There are estimated to be in this country some 150,000 steam-generating boilers, and if you are to include all the other kinds of vessels that would come within the definition of this Bill, you must multiply that by three, and there would be at least from 450,000 to 500,000 vessels in this country which would come under this Bill. The cost of inspection and registration of these boilers could not be less than 30s. each, and would probably be nearer £2, therefore I estimate the cost of this Bill to the country to be somewhere between three-quarters of a million and a million of money. I do not know whether, in a year when such enormous demands have been made upon the public exchequer, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would welcome or agree 283 to such a demand as that. At any rate, with regard to the Bill, I think it would be a pity, speaking from the position of those who are owners of factories and works, if the Board of Trade inspectors were introduced into the factories of this country. I see the right hon. the Home Secretary, and I am glad he has taken this matter in hand. In conclusion, all the figures and arguments I have used point to the increased excellence of the present system where good inspection is made; but if inspection is not compulsory, the worst boilers will escape inspection. This subject is highly technical. Firstly, there is the question of the definition of a boiler; and secondly, no definition of a boiler explosion, and no standard of safety. But there is the further question whether an extension of the present Acts would not be sufficient to meet the case before us. There is a case for inquiry, and I entirely agree that a Select Committee will best meet the case. My own suggestions with regard to this question are, that the responsibility of the boiler owners should be more clearly expressed and made known to them. I think, in the case of any explosion which causes loss of life there ought to be a formal investigation; and, in the second place, the onus should rest on the boiler owner of showing that the boiler was of suitable construction for the pressure used, and that it was properly maintained; that it was regularly inspected by a competent man, and that it was also attended to by a competent man. We are in the dark as yet as to the precise proposals of the Home Secretary in his Factory and Workshops Bill. I am led to imagine, from what he said when he introduced that Bill, that his proposals are probably as workmanlike and feasible as any yet put before the House. But we have to-day to deal with the Bill of the hon. Member for Wansbeck. If it is a question of taking that Bill or not taking it, I must say I am against it, but if it is a question of passing it pro forma in order that it may be sent to a Select Committee, or a question of the Home Secretary promising a Committee without passing any of that Bills dealing with the subject, then I am in favour of such a course. I apologise to the House for having trespassed so long upon their time, and thank them for the patience with which they have listened to me.
§ *SIR ALFRED HICKMAN (Wolverhampton, W.)
I have listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Wansbeck in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, and recognising the moderation of his statements and his earnest desire to secure the safety of human life, if I thought this Bill would in the least degree attain that object, I would be its warmest supporter. But I believe the contrary, and therefore I am here to move that it be read a second time this day six months. The hon. Member said in his very fair speech that it was not necessary for him to prove that every boiler explosion was preventable, and he claimed that if there was even one exception to the rule that boiler explosions are not preventable, then his case was made out. I join issue with him there. I hold that it ought to be proved that boiler explosions would be prevented by this Bill. The hon. Member quoted a Report by Mr. Gray, which stated that we ought not to consider explosions accidental, when, in fact, they are never accidental. I quite agree that, practically speaking, nearly all cases of boiler explosion are not accidental. They are caused in a great many instances by the negligence or the want of skill of the persons attending to the boilers, or by negligence on the part of those who use them. But this Bill would not have the effect of preventing negligence of any of these persons. Again, Mr. Gray's Report unfortunately refers to steamship boilers only which are mostly inspected by the Department.
§ *SIR ALFRED HICKMAN
Then I withdraw that. The hon. Member for Wansbeck referred to a sad explosion of a boiler which was 60 feet long. Everybody knows now that a boiler 60 feet long is quite unfitted for general work; but until that explosion took place that fact was not realised. Nobody thinks nowadays of putting in a boiler 60 feet long, and I venture to say that there is no such boiler at work in the United Kingdom at the present moment. I contend that a Board of Trade inspector is not likely to be a better judge of the safety of a boiler than the inspector appointed by the boiler owner himself. One of the great causes of these accidents is corrosion, but corrosion is not visible 285 from outside inspection. It can only be ascertained by drilling a hole through the boiler, and the person who has the boiler in charge, who knows the age of the boiler and the work it has done, is better able to judge when this is necessary than a person who knows nothing about it and has never seen it until he goes to inspect it. The hon. Member for Oldham spoke of the inspectors of the insurance companies not being able to insist on their recommendations being carried out; but although they cannot insist nominally, practically they can do so; because if any boiler owner refused to carry out his recommendation and an explosion were to take place, and someone were killed as the result, the jury would take a serious view of that man's position, and in all probability find him guilty of manslaughter. There are a large number of boilers of steamships inspected by Government Departments. In 1899 there were sixty-eight explosions of steamship boilers, and in twenty-six of these cases an inspection had been made. That is 38 per cent. of the whole number of boiler explosions, but the number of steamship boilers is by no means 38 per cent. of the total number of boilers. Why should this House take from the proper person, that is, the owner, the responsibility for the safety of his boilers? He is better able to judge of its safety than any inspector of the Board of Trade. Every explosion is now thoroughly inquired into by a representative of the Government, and the boiler owner is not only liable to a heavy fine if in fault, but is held criminally responsible in the event of loss of life. That responsibility would be taken away if this Bill is passed into law. The number of accidents that happen to boilers are very small, compared to those that happen in the streets of London every day. [An Hon. Member: No!] How would hon. Members like to have their horses and coachmen inspected every day?
§ *SIR ALFRED HICKMAN
The hon. Member may inspect mine. I strongly suspect that the reason for the exemption of domestic boilers is to avoid as much opposition to this Bill as possible, and the same remark applies to the 286 exemption of the locomotive boilers of railway companies; but I would submit that their turn will come next if this Bill becomes law. The hon. Member for Oldham estimated the number of steam-generating boilers in the country at 150,000, and he said that this Bill would include a large number of vessels containing steam, not boilers in the technical sense, making altogether between 500,000 and 600,000, and that these would have to be inspected five times every year. Now, every time that one of these boilers or vessels was inspected travelling expenses would be incurred; and it would be an under estimate to put the cost of each such inspection at 10s. So that instead of the inspection provided for in the Bill costing a quarter of a million, it would be a million and a quarter or a million and a half. I quite agree that if such a demand was made upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer he would probably not like it very much. In my opinion this Bill is certainly calculated to form a pension fund for boiler makers. [Mr. FENWICK dissented.] I quite recognise that the hon. Member's object is to save human life, but I speak of the effect of the Bill. Again, the registration provided for in the Bill would be extremely costly and troublesome, and could be of no possible use on earth that I can conceive of. Inspection may be of some use, but I cannot see what can be the use of registration. Then the Bill provides that the makers 'names are to be put on every boiler. But in a great many cases this would be impossible, because owners of boilers have frequently no conception who made them, and it would be very difficult to trace out their genealogy. Then the premises in which boilers are placed are to be registered under this Bill. That implies that the boilers cannot be used in any other premises; but there are many boilers that are semi-portable, and are these never to be used after this, in different premises from which they were first placed, in the case, for instance, of a breakdown of machinery? It is provided that in certain British ships the boilers are to be subject to the same inspection as boilers on land. But there are British ships which go on long voyages, and do not come into a British port once in a year. Are they to come into a British port five times a year to have their boilers 287 inspected? It is certain that steamship owners would object to that. Again, the Bill provides that if an inspector pronounces a boiler not safe, and makes certain recommendations in regard to it, the owner must not, even if these recommendations are carried out, use that boiler until the inspector has seen it again. Now, the inspector may be busy elsewhere, and may not be able to make the second inspection for many days, and are the works of the boiler owner to stand idle all that time? Another objection I have to the Bill is that no provision is made for an appeal against the decision of the inspectors. Inspectors are human after all, and are likely to err very much on the safe side, so that their decision may become an insupportable burden to boiler owners. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has introduced a Factories and Workshops Bill, which will deal with this question. I thoroughly agree that some inquiry should be made, and I should not oppose a general reference to a Select Committee. But I am opposed on principle to such Bills as are now before the House. If the hon. Members in charge will agree to withdraw these Bills on the understanding that the Home Secretary will appoint a Select Committee to inquire, into the whole matter, it might be possible to bring about really useful legislation. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time this day six months.
§ MR. GALLOWAY
The motion which my hon. friend has made is, I think, an extremely regrettable one, if he will forgive me for saying so; because if he proceeds to a division it will put those who generally act with him in a position that they must vote against him.
§ *SIR ALFRED HICKMAN
I have no intention of pressing my motion to a division if it is understood that all the Bills relating to this subject are to be referred to a Select Committee, or that the promoters of these Bills will withdraw them, accepting the assurance of the right hon. the Home Secretary that he will appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the whole question, and I hope that the latter course will be taken.
§ MR. GALLOWAY
That explanation was desirable, otherwise it might have 288 been thought that the hon. Gentleman desired to burke discussion and to prejudice the inquiry which I understand the Government are going to concede. When these various Bills appeared on the Paper I immediately put down a motion for a Select Committee, for I am sure that everybody who has considered this question must have felt that anything that could be done to avoid a single explosion, to prevent a single accident, or to save a single life ought to be done, no matter what the inconvenience of carrying out such a recommendation would be. The hon. Member for Shipley suggested that all these explosions arose from preventable causes. If that were so, I venture to think that they ought not to be called accidents at all. But I do not believe that is the case. I believe that many of them do arise from absolutely unpreventable causes. What is required is some system by which very great precautions should be adopted, and in many cases these accidents would then be prevented. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton has pointed out a great many objections to the Bill, with many of which I cordially agree, and pointed out that there were many points for the consideration of a Select Committee. Whether compulsory insurance is the only other remedy I am not prepared to say, because however anxious the insurance companies might be to inspect boilers thoroughly they could not cover the whole of the ground. What they undertake is well done, and naturally must be well done in their own interest, but they cannot cover everything. I hope this Bill will not be pressed to a Second Reading, but that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will undertake that a Select Committee shall be appointed to consider the whole question. If he can see his way to give us such an assurance, and that the Committee shall be appointed at once, I think hon. Gentlemen would be well advised not to press this Bill further.
§ COLONEL PILKINGTON (Lancashire, Newton)
I rise to second the rejection of this Bill. The hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division has made a careful speech, in which he has pointed out that one of the first objects of the Bill is the protection of life and property. Although I feel that all of us are desirous of the safety of the workpeople throughout the country, and wherever the scope of the Bill may come in, still I think the debate has shown us, so far, that the workpeople are wonderfully safeguarded even at present. The speech of the hon. Member for Oldham in this House was not only an able speech, but it conclusively showed a very great decrease in the number of accidents and the number of deaths from explosions. When we consider the enormous number of boilers and machinery in use from fifty years ago until now, the number of deaths seems now to be brought almost to vanishing point, and the question arises whether legislation of the kind suggested in this Bill is advisable. I do not see that this Bill would have any beneficial effect. It does seem to me that, unless some very strong reason can be shown for the passing of this Bill, we ought to hesitate very seriously, because it has been shown by former speakers that not only is the number of accidents very small, but the expense to the country associated with the proposals put forward would be very great. It was estimated by one speaker at three-quarters of a million and by another at a quarter of a million. Whatever the amount, it is clear that the expense involved would be very great. Surely there are reasons why we should hesitate. In the first place, we have legislation which has been passed from time to time, and which is carried into effect by inspectors of mines who are under the Home Secretary, and those connected with mines and collieries are continually having visits from these inspectors and having recommendations from them, and we are certainly looked after and inspected in a most close and careful way. If it in not a question of collieries and mines, we come under the observation of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Factories. They enter works coming under the Act whenever they like, and 290 the inspection is continuous and has been now for many years. On top of all this legislation you have the Workmen's Compensation Act, which places the manufacturers under the necessity in their own interests of seeing that their plant is in every way up to the mark, because if there should be any death or accident owing to the plant not being good, the employer of labour has to pay compensation to the workman or his friends. Then there is another point which I hope will come before the Select Committee, and that is the question whether the inspectors to be appointed ought to be under the Board of Trade. We have Her Majesty's Inspectors of Mines and Factories, and they are a most efficient body of men, and it seems to me that inspection of boilers, if there is to be any ought to come either under the Inspectors of Mines or the Inspectors of Factories. With new inspectors under the Board of Trade it would happen with some people that they would have three sets of inspectors coming into their works. There is another reason why I think the suggestion made about the Select Committee is a desirable one. When any change is made in the law in this matter it ought to be the result of a Bill brought in by the Government. What manufacturers and colliery proprietors feel is that when changes of the law under such heads are considered, they ought to come not as the result of a private Bill, but as a Bill brought in by the Government. I trust this will be the case with this subject when it is considered, and that when it is legislated upon it will be done by the Government. I quite understand and thoroughly appreciate some of the suggestions made by the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading of this Bill; but it is because I desired to express these views on the subject that I rose to second the rejection of the Bill.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of this Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.'"—(Sir Alfred Hickman.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. JONATHAN SAMUEL (Stockton)
Whenever there is a suggestion 291 made for an improvement of the law in reference to the personal qualifications of boiler attendants or for the improvement of registration and inspection, we can always depend on the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton to move the rejection of the Bill. I think the hon. Member for Wansbeck has made out a strong case for the principle of this measure, and I felt it was no use attempting to argue the case, because the Government in the new Factory and Workshops Bill have admitted the necessity of a change in the law with respect to the registration and inspection of boilers. When we look to the matter of local administration with reference to infectious diseases, or the inspection and registration of lodging houses—wherever human life is at stake, as it is at stake in those two cases—the Government have insisted that human life should be protected and that there should be registration and inspection. Now in this case anyone who has read the reports of the inspectors under the Act of 1882 must admit that year by year the case is made stronger, not only for the Bill which is before the House at the present time, but also for the Bill of which I am in charge—that is with respect to the personal qualification of the men in charge of boilers. I think to strengthen the case, if it were necessary to strengthen it, there is the report of an inquest held at Sheffield on 23rd November last year with respect to a boiler explosion which took place in that town, when eleven lives were lost. There was very important evidence brought before that inquest, and the recommendation and summing up of the coroner was so strong that he expressed the opinion that the time had arrived when Government should take action in this matter so as to bring about the registration and inspection of boilers. When I introduced my Bill in 1897 the Under Secretary for the Home Department stated in reply on behalf of the Government that if we could show where accidents occurred through the lack of personal qualification of the attendant, or anything that would save human life or injury to any person, he would endeavour to bring in a measure to repair the defect in the law. Here is a case I have in addition to that I have already quoted—the explosion which took place in Sheffield—where seven lives were lost, and where the coroner expressly commented on the 292 want of legislation in this matter. In reference to the very able and cogent speech of the hon. Member for Oldham—a speech which the House listened to with a very great amount of pleasure, because it showed a thorough grasp of the whole subject—there were certain conclusions which I think we, who support this measure, are entitled somewhat to challenge. He spoke of the enormous cost which would be entailed if the Board of Trade were to undertake the inspection, and he fixed it at between £750,000 and £1,000,000. I am given to understand at the present time that when inspection takes place under any of the insurance companies the charge averages 30s. per boiler, and that cost is paid by the owners of the boilers. ["No."] By whom then?
§ MR. JONATHAN SAMUEL
They give a certificate showing that the boiler is safe. What I was going to point out is this: I demur entirely to that estimate, because it is a most extravagant one. ["No."] Well, I have some experience of boilers myself. I think it would be a very easy matter for an inspector to inspect a number of boilers without putting the Government to a cost of 30s. per boiler. ["No."] In any case, suppose that the Government did undertake to do this work free of cost to the owners which they are at present called upon to pay, then I say it is an argument in favour of the Government undertaking this work. I am quite sure the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would not introduce the principle of this Bill in the new Factory and Workshops Bill which the other evening he announced his intention of doing, unless the Government had taken into consideration the cost and had foreshadowed what the expense would be. But in any case I think the House will agree that when we can save human life and injury to individuals and destruction of property, then it is right that the Government should do it whatever the cost may be. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman one question. I am in charge of the Bill the 293 Second Reading of which was earned in 1897.* It is the fifth or sixth year of it. That is the Bill in reference to the personal qualification of boiler attendants. I have quoted the opinion expressed by the Under Secretary. In the Barking case last year there were ten lives lost, I believe twenty-seven were injured, and there was great destruction of property. In the Board of Trade inquiry, which was a very lengthy one, they found that the explosion was entirely due to ignorance and want of proper attention. Now, here is a case where it is brought home to the Government that the explosion was entirely due to the fact that the man in charge of the boiler was ignorant of his work. I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether he is prepared to accept the offer that has been made by the hon. Member for Wansbeck—to accept the Second Reading of my Bill and then refer it to a Select Committee, so that the whole question of registration, inspection, and personal qualification may be taken into consideration.
*SIR WILLIAM HOULDSWORTH, BART. (Manchester, N.W.)
It seems to me that there is a consensus of opinion gradually accumulating that this subject on which we are engaged this afternoon should be referred to a Select Committee of some sort or other. I will not trespass on the House except for a few moments, but perhaps I will be allowed to say a few words. I am inclined to think, and I think it is agreed, that the Bill I introduced in 1892 was the first effort to deal with the question at all. I have given a good deal of consideration to the whole question. I am in thorough agreement with the hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Reading of the Bill, and others who have spoken, that the time has arrived when some additional legislation is required, and, that being the case, the only question is what form that legislation is to take. There are some who think that some extension of the present Explosions Act, by which an investigation by the Board of Trade is made is sufficient. I agree with those who feel that we might take a step further forward and endeavour to prevent rather than inquire into an explosion after* The Steam Engines and Boilers (Persons in Charge) Bill. For Second Reading Debate see The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol. xlvi., p. 625.294 it has taken place. I think since 1890 great good has arisen, and there has been a decrease in the number of explosions. At the same time, I am bound to say I think the Bill before us is rather too drastic—unnecessarily drastic, cumbrous, and costly—and would provoke an amount of opposition which will defeat the objects of the hon. Members. A Bill could be framed which will produce the same effect—a tentative measure—without that opposition and without vexatious interference with trade. What we really want, in the first place, is a registration of boilers. The introduction of inspectors of the Board of Trade would certainly meet with a great deal of opposition, and I am not quite sure that they are the best people to inspect these boilers. I have heard criticisms made on the boiler insurance associations. I believe they have done an immense good work in this direction, and I think they would be the very first to admit that they are crippled in their action, and cannot do as much as they might do owing to the circumstances in which they are placed. Reference was made to the Red car explosion, in which it was stated that it was under the inspection of one of the boiler insurance companies. I know the company. It is managed by able men with an earnest desire to do their duty. It was pointed out that notwithstanding this inspection the explosion took place. But you will find in the evidence before the Board of Trade that the engineers of the boiler insurance company had impressed on the owners over and over again that the boilers were not in a condition to be considered safe. The company to which I refer actually protested against these boilers and endeavoured to get the owner's to change them, but they were not able to effect that object. Whether they would have been right in withdrawing their insurance I am not able to say. It is very difficult to draw the line and say when that should take place. If they had had to give a certificate of safety they would not have given that certificate, and that would at once have brought the whole matter to a conclusion. I am inclined to think these insurance companies furnish the very best experts to be found for that kind of work. I would not suggest that it should be limited entirely to them. No doubt there are many local engineers who would be prepared to inspect and give certificates, and 295 do it honestly. With regard to the part withdrawn in reference to the boilermakers, I am not sure that they are the best experts in finding out faults. Those engaged daily in this work are the best experts you could get. Under these circumstances I could not vote for the Bill of the hon. Member. I believe there are other ways in which the matter might be dealt with. As the matter of referring these Bills to a Select Committee has been raised, I would say that all the Bills ought to be before any Committee which is appointed. I was of opinion at one time that a Select Committee was not necessary. I think the Government itself might frame a Bill that would give general satisfaction with the materials before them. But if they think it desirable to appoint a Select Committee before bringing in a Bill I have no objection to that. I think that it would be well if the right hon. Gentleman saw no objection that the clause he has prepared in his Factory Bill should also be referred to the same Committee.
§ *MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars)
An hon. Member on the other side said the Home Secretary should agree to refer the subject to a Select Committee on condition that the hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division withdrew his Bill. I think that would not put the question forward but put it back. Let him give my hon. friend's Bill a Second Reading and refer it to a Select Committee, and then send the other Bills on the Paper to-day to the same Committee. The Committee will then agree upon proper terms for a Bill, as there is no doubt whatever that a complete case has been made out for legislation which we shall accept in such a form as the Select Committee may determine and advise the House. But if the Bill is not read a second time and referred to the Committee, then the Committee will merely have an abstract question before them, and their Report will leave us little further forward than we have been for many years past. The question has been longer before the House than the hon. Member for Manchester has said. It has been before the House since 1889, as I introduced a Bill in that year for the compulsory examination and registration of boilers. I therefore would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give my hon. friend's Bill a Second Reading and send it to a Select Com- 296 mittee. We should then have this subject put before us in the form of an acceptable Bill which would bring this long pending question to a conclusion.
§ *MR. RENSHAW (Renfrew, W.)
While I sympathise with the object aimed at in the Bill of the hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division, at the same time there are two sides to this question. While on the one hand it has been argued that great advantage would accrue from the passing of a Bill of this kind, and that the protection would be greater if such a Bill became law, on the other hand it can be justly argued that the passing of a Bill of this kind, instituting a general system of inspection, would diminish individual responsibility of those who are at present responsible for the employment of labour. It is not at all improbable that the providing of a general system of inspection throughout the country would diminish that sense of individual responsibility, and the passing of the measure would really and truly, as regards explosions, not be preventative. The admirable speech of the hon. Member for Oldham was an interesting contribution to the discussion of the subject, and I should like to recall the attention of the House for a moment or two to the figures he gave. I do not think the figures placed before us in regard to the total number of boilers in the country at all representative of the true facts of the case. I should like to point out that the definition of "boiler" in the Bill of the hon. Member for Wansbeck is a very inclusive one. It is perfectly obvious that the definition includes an enormous amount of machinery and vessels throughout the country which have nothing whatever to do with the generating of steam, and are habitually worked at a very low pressure. I see there is no reference in this Bill to the question of pressure. Agricultural boilers would come under the operation of this Bill, and would be one of the most important items in the expense of working the Bill. Speaking as an employer of labour I hesitate to give my assent to the inspection of all the boilers five times a year which would come within the scope of the definition given in the Bill, however subsidiary their character may be. An inspection twice a year would involve immense expense to the public and the employment 297 of an immense body of inspectors to carry out the work. I shall give an instance as regards my own factory. There are five generating steam-boilers, but there would certainly be over a hundred vessels subject to this inspection five times a year. I am quite certain that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be very unwilling to face such an expenditure. I think the hon. Member for Oldham said it would cost £750,000. I myself believe it would involve a larger expenditure than that, if it is to be carried out in such a manner as it ought to be. In land boilers the average number of accidents in the last five years was thirteen, and the average annual number of deaths six. The cost of inspection would be altogether incommensurate with the result to be accomplished. The hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division quoted from the Report of Mr. Gray, but I wish to call attention to the fact that that gentleman was an inspector of the Board of Trade in connection with marine boilers, and therefore the Report and the deduction drawn from the Report do not apply when dealing with land boilers. I am not sure that the admirable speech to which I have already referred did not suggest that there was another method by which something might be accomplished, and perhaps more economically and effectively, and that was by a compulsory system of boiler insurance. That would be brought before the Select Committee for consideration if the Committee should be appointed. I believe the Bill to be wrong in principle, unfortunate in the manner in which it has been brought out, and while as between the two Bills on the Paper I have greater admiration for the Bill of the hon. Member for North-west Manchester, I think it would be much better, if the reference is to be made, that it should be made as broad as possible. I would appeal to my right hon. friend the Home Secretary to proceed with the clause dealing with this subject in his Factory and Workshops Bill. These other Bills suggest that the system of inspection is to be carried out by the Board of Trade. As an employer of labour, I would urge upon the attention of the House that factories at present are entirely under the Home Office, and any system of inspection of factory boilers should be under the Home Secretary and not the Board of Trade. We know the officials we have to deal with. If you 298 introduce a fresh staff of officials you will certainly duplicate the work, and you would have an official from the Home Office for one purpose and an official from the Board of Trade for another.
§ *MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
So many excellent speeches have been made in support of one or other, and in some cases of all, the Bills dealing with boiler explosions that there is very little room for one to add much to the discussion, and consequently I shall cut out many of the observations I had intended to make as to the necessity of something being done. I would appeal to the Home Secretary not to respond to the appeal of the hon. Member for Renfrew not to accept the Second Reading of these Bills, and to let the Select Committee consider the whole matter. I would be pleased to hear that all the Bills would get a Second Reading to-day. I would not object to the Bill of the hon. Member for Stockton being referred to the same Committee. I do not think that well-informed opinion, and, above all, the facts, confirm the view of the hon. Member for Renfrew that if more legislation on this subject is resorted to the individual responsibility of the good boiler owner will be diminished. It seems to me that the hon. Member for Oldham, in his admirable speech, by one or two figures knocked the bottom out of this contention altogether. I recognise his authority above all others, and what did he say? He says that seven boilers per annum exploded that were insured and inspected, and that twenty-one boilers neither inspected nor insured also exploded. Now it seems to me that on such excellent authority as the hon. Member for Oldham, we have here a complete and direct answer to the fears of the hon. Member for Renfrew. The hon. Member referred to the case of agricultural boilers. We have heard to-day from practical men that if there is one class of boiler which ought to be included in boiler inspection and registration, surely it is the agricultural boiler, which is very frequently the source of many avoidable, explosions. I am of opinion that agricultural boilers are the most fruitful source of explosion, and the sooner they come under the supervision of the Board of Trade the better. I agree with the Member for North-west Manchester in thinking that the Government have got material for a Bill this session, and that 299 they could dispense with a Select Committee. If the Home Secretary were to take the Bills now before the House and information which he could get from all quarters, if he will not accept a Select Committee, he could bring in a Bill which would pass through this session. If he does not introduce a Bill, I hope all the Bills dealing with this subject will receive a Second Reading. An hon. Member has stated, on his authority as a director of a boiler insurance company, that the insurance companies, which he claimed did their work very well, positively refused to insure many boilers. Now the question I want to put to the Home Secretary is this: If that be true, and it is true, those boilers, for the very reason that they have been rejected by the insurance companies, ought to be inspected by some competent authority. I think the time has arrived, and practical men in the House will recognise it, when someone should do something in a drastic way to deal with boilers disused and rejected by good owners, and rejected by insurance companies, which find their way into the hands of second-hand dealers. There are in London and in the northern towns people who call themselves engineers' merchants, but their proper name should really be scrap-iron merchants. In their yards can be seen second-hand boilers, unsafe, and exposed for sale for long periods. During that period those boilers had been subject to corrosion and afterwards they are sold to other people and small manufacturers outside. They have not been inspected by an insurance company or Board of Trade official, and in consequence of ignorance and want of attention, a boiler which should have been originally condemned and broken up is thus very frequently a cause of an explosion. I appeal to the Home Secretary to insist upon it that where a second-hand boiler is sold after rejection by a large manufacturer, that boiler should be subjected before being put into use again to a rigorous test, and if found wanting should be condemned and broken up as being incapable of being used at all. Ably as the hon. Member for Oldham put his case, I am not so sure that the ability and vigilance of the insurance company is the absolute guarantee for safety that is often assumed. On the contrary, I believe, and right hon. Gentlemen have stated it, that over-insurance 300 of ships led to unseaworthiness. It is a well-known fact that the insurance of children in some cases has induced neglect on the part of mothers, and I know that fire insurance in some cases has, to put it mildly, stimulated combustion. In the same way boiler insurance, if not vigilantly supervised, and only used as a medium for collecting premiums, might induce a slackness of inspection which might lead to a few explosions. I think the time has come for doing something to prevent boiler explosions. The whole subject offer's a field for very careful inquiry, and I hope the Home Secretary will give this matter his sympathetic consideration. I cannot share the hon. Member for Oldham's view in regard to his antipathy to the Board of Trade inspection. I would prefer inspectors who were appointed by the Board of Trade or the Home Office, or at least certified by a State Department. I agree with the hon. Member for Renfrewshire that we ought to have unity of inspection, but it certainly seems to me that it would be better to have Board of Trade or Home Office inspections than insurance office inspections, for reasons which I will not go into. You ought to insist that all the companies' inspectors should be certified either by the Board of Trade or by the Home Office, and if that were done I believe some good would be effected. I object to this optional inspection in one of these Bills because it enables owners to select their own inspectors. This destroys the principle of impartiality on which real inspection should be based. It also establishes a very dangerous principle. If we adopt it we shall have mine owners asking for it to be applied to mines, and railway companies will be asking for the same thing, and if they succeed there is a strong probability that we shall have jerry-builders and slum-owners asking for inspectors to be approved of by the owners of insanitary houses. If inspection is necessary in the interests of the community the inspectors should not be selected by a section, however powerful and strong, but they should be selected by the Government in the interests of the whole community. My last point is this: I agree with the hon. Member for Oldham that we ought to have a standard of safety, and the sooner it is established the better. I do not see why the Home Office should not put their 301 experts at work to establish that standard. I think we ought to have a definition of what is an explosion in order to prevent the interpretation that is often given to the varying statistics presented. It seems to me that the Home Office and the Board of Trade should not allow an insurance company to do what ought properly to devolve upon it in the matter of notification to boiler owners when special occasions demand advice. We had a very dry summer a year or two ago, and there was a diminution in the amount of water usually available. Water was got from springs and from wells, where the water is chemically very bad, and its use increased the liability of explosions. When we have a very dry summer, and improper water is being used in boilers, then the Home Office ought to do what these insurance companies did, they ought to notify all the steam users to be very careful as to the source from which they drew their water. I support the hon. Member for Oldham when he asks that the figures should be brought up to date, and that foreign figures should be made accessible. I trust that, whatever is done on this subject that we shall not have the Select Committeee sitting too long, because practically all the information needed is before the House for an effective Bill, and whether the Home Secretary promises a Bill or a Select Committee, I cheerfully note the wonderful progress made on this subject and the unanimity with which manufacturers and representatives of labour have agreed in a most remarkable way about the facts. They differ as to the remedies to be applied, but they are almost unanimous as to the advisability of a Select Committee, and with that unanimity I hope the Home Office will give a sympathetic answer to this appeal, and that we shall not have to wait much longer before we have an efficient inspection of boilers established.
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir M. White Ridley,) Lancashire, Blackpool
I think it is right that I should now intervene and express the views which the Government entertain on the Bill now before the House. I find it rather strange, as the representative of the Home Office, that I should be dealing with a Bill which contains enactments affecting the Board of Trade. The House is aware that since the Boiler Explosion Acts have been 302 in force they have been administered, and, I think, administered satisfactorily, by the Board of Trade. At the same time the Department over which I have the honour to preside has to deal with factories and mines, and, therefore, it is most reasonable and right that the Home Office should take some considerable part in dealing with boilers, for many are likely to be found in those places. I think I have shown my sense of the desirability that something should be done in this direction by having inserted in the Factory Bill which I have had the honour of introducing to the House this session a clause which deals with boilers so far as factories are concerned. The House knows that there are several Bills before it dealing with this question of boiler inspection, and they all aim at the prevention of accidents from the explosion of boilers. Three of the Bills deal with this question by securing that boilers should be inspected periodically, that the boiler itself should be a sound and well made article, and well looked after by its owner. There is also the Bill of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stockton, which has been before the House for some time, and which upon one occasion passed its Second Reading. That Bill deals with the persons in charge, and seeks to attain security from accidents by providing that the persons in charge of boilers should be properly certificated. My right hon. friend the Under Secretary took objection to such a provision some time ago, and though the House affirmed the principle on the Second Reading, it did not proceed any further with the measure. In regard to the Bill before the House I should be prepared to argue that if it only meant that something might be done upon this subject, I should have no objection to the Second Reading of the measure, but if I am held to say that I approve of the hon. Member's methods of dealing with the question as embodied in the Bill I should oppose the Second Reading. I should like to refer to one matter which the hon. Gentleman mentioned in his speech with reference to the explosion at Barking, which caused the loss of ten lives and injury to twenty-three other persons. It ought to be remembered that that accident might not have been affected in any degree by this Bill. The report which I have before me of 303 that accident shows that the explosion was not caused by the neglect, incompetence, or carelessness of the person in charge, but was attributable to the fact that, under what appeared to be orders from the manager of the particular works, the safety valve had been improperly arranged, and in consequence of that the explosion took place. I am not denying that there are explosions caused by the carelessness or incompetence of the persons in charge. The hon. Member who introduced this Bill in a very moderate and sensible speech said that although the Boiler Explosions Acts had had a successful effect, still, they had not done everything, and that now he based his case upon the fact that it was admitted that the periodical inspection of boilers as a preventive measure was desirable, and that it was not sufficient, even allowing for the influence brought to bear upon employers by the inquiry of the Board of Trade after the explosion had happened, that there should be only that Board of Trade examination. I think he was right in saying that this has had a very considerable effect. I listened with the greatest interest to the most able and clear speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oldham, and I congratulate the House upon his accession to our ranks. I understand him to give figures, with which I generally agree, that in spite of the fact that there has been an enormous increase in the number of boilers since the passing of the Boiler Explosions Acts, it was right to say that on the whole there had been a decrease in the number of accidents and in the number of lives lost and persons injured in consequence, partly, of the operation of those Acts. I believe that is so. But nowithstanding those facts it appears to be generally admitted to-day, by all those who have spoken in the House, that something more might be done. I believe that the figures which the hon. Gentleman gave of the proportion of explosions in inspected and uninspected boilers respectively would be sufficient to convince many of us that it is desirable in some way to secure that boilers should be periodically examined and tested, and that the best means should be at once taken to secure that they shall not be unsafe to human life. The hon. Member also said that, in any system of boiler insurance it is the worst boilers that escape. It is not the boilers of the most 304 careful men we want to touch at all, but it is the worst boilers, because they are in the hands generally of careless or incompetent or impecunious persons, and not being properly looked after, are a source of risk not only to those immediately in charge of them but also to those residing close by. I observe from the last report made by the Board of Trade, that in eight cases out of sixty-eight cases last year, it was found by the court dealing with the facts put before them that there had been a want of proper care which had caused the accident. I think all the facts before us justify what appears to be the general conclusion of the House that it is desirable to provide in some way or other that some means should be devised for providing greater security against accidents from boilers. I am prepared, therefore, on behalf of the Government, to assent to that principle, and I have embodied it in a clause in the Factory Bill which I have introduced, and which, I am sorry to say, has not yet been printed. When I come to the provisions of the particular Bill of the hon. Member I confess it is one which presents very great difficulties. There are a very great number of objections to be taken to the Bill of the hon. Member, and, although I accept it as meaning that something should be done and ought to be done, I may say that I cannot conceive of any Government undertaking compulsory Government inspection and certifying of boilers all over the United Kingdom, which would be necessary under this Bill. I am confident that no Government would assent to that even if there were not involved in it the taking away of the responsibility of the owner. It is the owner and the person who employs the steam-generating or other boilers upon whom should be thrown the responsibility for the safety of the boiler which he uses. It is a far different thing to enforce that responsibility by Government inspection from taking away that responsibility altogether. The provisions of our Factories and Mines Acts are generally based upon this principle: that you lay down certain regulations which must be conformed to at the expense and upon the responsibility of factory and mine owners, and the Government inspectors come in not to give a certificate but to see that the provisions of the law are complied with; and although I agree that it is desirable 305 that the Government should enforce Improper means the provisions which the law and the Government may think fit to adopt for the safety of our boilers, to do so by issuing the rules which are to be obeyed and providing a Government inspection is a very different thing from giving a certificate which will relieve the responsibility of the owner. Part of the Bill of the hon. Member for Stockton deals with the persons who are responsible and actually engaged in managing those boilers, and they all deal with the subject in the way of compulsory inspection or registration. As I have said, it appears to me that the Bill of the hon. Member presents very considerable difficulties from the point of view of relieving the owner of responsibility, and it contains machinery to which I should not like in principle to assent. The Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North-west Manchester, who is a pioneer in this movement, and whose Bill has often been before the House, proceeds rather more in the direction of throwing the responsibility on the owner, and the Bill of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stockton runs upon somewhat similar lines. As regards the clause in my Factory Bill which, perhaps, I may mention, although I have no right to insist upon it in this debate, I propose to follow very closely the analogy of the general rules under the Coal Mines Act, which I think have been satisfactory, and the special rules which are, under the Home Office, applicable to quarries. It provides that every boiler must have attached to it a proper safety valve, steam gauge, and water gauge; that it must be cleaned out and examined internally by a competent person at least once every three months; that it must be internally and externally examined by a competent engineer at least once in every twelve months; and that every such safety valve and gauge must be maintained in a proper condition, and that the person making the examination in pursuance of the section must forthwith enter in a register prescribed for the purpose the particulars of the result of his examination. Then there is a penalty for non-compliance with the regulation. Of course, that only applies to factories, and it does not cover the general question which the hon. Member desires to deal with. I think, and I believe it is the opinion of the House, that the general 306 question ought to be dealt with, and it occurs to me that the best way of doing it would be to have a Select Committee, and the Government are prepared to undertake to propose a Select Committee upon the whole question. I think it would be much better that the whole question should be so referred, rather than a particular Bill should be read a second time and referred to that Committee, because in that case the Committee would be then compelled to proceed within the lines of the Bill. With reference to the clause in the Factory Bill which I have introduced, that also will come under the discussion of the Select Committee, although I confess I very much wish that that clause might have become law this session. I still hope that it may do so, and I hope that the Select Committee will not take so very long considering the proposals before it comes to some decision. I am prepared to promise the hon. Gentleman, if he will withdraw his Bill and not press the Second Reading, that the Government will propose a Select Committee to deal with the whole question, and then we shall be in a position to consider all the proposals which are, or have been recently, before the House in reference to this matter, and I trust and hope that no time will be lost before the Committee will meet and the subject be dealt with. I understand that the Committee would have power to send for papers and take evidence, but if there is any difficulty as to the terms of the reference I will undertake that there shall be referred to that Committee specially any Bills which have been withdrawn, and which it is desirable should be considered by that Committee. I think the Committee would be in a better position to deal with the whole question, for it would then have before it all the proposals which have been made in Parliament, and this, I think, would be by far the most satisfactory way of dealing with it.
§ Mr. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
There seems to be a general agreement and a general opinion that the law can do more to prevent these accidents, and after what has been said by the Home Secretary it is not necessary for me to enter into a detailed examination in regard to the remedies suggested in this Bill, or as explained by the various speeches which 307 have been made. I think one may fairly say that the fact that there are three or four Bills now before the House upon this subject shows that there is a very widespread interest in this subject, and it is quite time the Government took it up. We are in these cases in a perpetual dilemma between Government interference on the one hand and the danger of removing individual responsibility on the other. I do not believe it will ever be possible to find a general principle to guide us satisfactorily between the two extremes of this dilemma. All we can do is, in each case, to try and reconcile individual responsibility with so much Government interference as is necessary to deal with the evil. If we look back forty or sixty years it will be found that we have always had to accept the doctrines of both sides and endeavour to steer between them. That is the reason why we should have a great deal of inquiry into the present case, and I am inclined to think that the course suggested by the Home Secretary is probably the best course to take. I know there are some objections to this Bill. It would involve very great expense, and it might remove individual responsibility. The Bill of the hon. Member for North-west Manchester does not go quite so far; but I am not sure that some objection might not be taken to that Bill also. I am inclined to think that a primâ facie case has been made out for taking further precautions with regard to the safety of persons in charge of boilers, and if the Government had decided not to refer these Bills to a Select Committee I should have entered a strong plea for taking that course. The Home Secretary has made a proposal which will, to some extent, meet the case, and it is that all these Bills should be referred to the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman does not want the Government to appear to be bound by adopting the Second Reading of any particular Bill, and he feels that if he assented to it he might be pressed to endeavour to obtain the Second Reading of the Bills which have a parallel claim to come before the Committee. He suggests that there should be an inquiry into the whole subject, and that the Committee should inquire into the various schemes before the House. I think that is a fair proposal, and I hope my hon. friend the Member for the Wansbeck Division will see his way to accept it. According to the 308 pledge of the Home Secretary, the Government will endeavour to deal properly with the whole matter. I hope the Home Secretary will go on with his clause in the Factory Bill. It is a clause which, though it may require some amendment, is in the main a satisfactory clause, and it holds out the prospect of being made a useful and workable scheme. At the same time it would be a great advantage to us to have an examination of the whole question. Let me say one word about the Department proposed to deal with the matter. The hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division proposes that this question should be dealt with by the Board of Trade. It is quite true that the Board of Trade has to inspect railways and merchant shipping. But the Board of Trade undertakes no inspection of this kind in regard to boilers except in relation to inquiries after explosions have happened, and these have the valuable result of making owners more careful to prevent accidents. I do not think the Board of Trade is the best Department for this work. If there is to be an inspection it should be taken up by the Home Office, which already sends its inspectors into the factories, and it would be obviously absurd that the Board of Trade inspector should go into factories for one purpose and the Home Office inspectors should go into the same factories for another purpose. I think my hon. friend, and the hon. Member for North-west Manchester, and others who have brought in Bills may be congratulated upon having gained a distinct step in the consideration of this question. We have had a debate conducted in a spirit of compromise and agreement upon many principles, and it has drawn from the Home Secretary a promise that the matter will be considered at once. I hope he will have the Committee appointed as soon as possible, for I believe it will help greatly towards a settlement of the question, and I trust that the Committee will be able to report before the right hon. Gentleman introduces his own Bill.
§ *MR. FENWICK
I desire to acknowledge the way in which the Home Secretary has met me in dealing with this question. There has been shown in the debate this afternoon a very wonderful consensus of opinion in favour of some sort of inquiry, and even stronger than that; they are of opinion that something 309 more should be done to alter the law in this respect. I admit frankly the very generous spirit in which he has met me. I could scarcely expect him to agree with me in my desire to increase the number of inspectors in his Department, but considering that the provisions of the Act of 1882 have all along been administered by the Board of Trade, I thought it was the right and proper Department for dealing with this question. I only wish to say that I hope we shall find a proper solution of this difficulty, and as the right hon. Gentleman has already pledged himself to do all he can to facilitate the appointment of this Committee and to expedite the inquiry, I beg leave to withdraw my motion.
§ *SIR JOHN BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
I desire to say that I do not share the fears entertained by my hon. friend the Member for Battersea with regard to the influence of boiler insurance companies. I have had a very long and large experience of boiler insurance companies, and I have to express my gratitude for the work that they have done not only on behalf of my firm, but for the whole country. I am glad that this Bill does not exclude agricultural boilers, for I have heard from gentlemen in the service of my firm who have visited the works whore agricultural boilers are made that such boilers come in for the purpose of repair in a state which is absolutely appalling. Those boilers are worked by men who work at a long distance from any help, and they are men of the lowest type of engineers, and these are just the boilers that ought to be insured and inspected. I desire to say a few words in corroboration of what has fallen from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Renfrewshire, and to urge upon the right hon. Gentleman that he should reconsider his definition of a boiler. It is referred to in this Bill as being taken from the Boiler Explosions Act, and for that he is responsible.
§ *SIR JOHN BRUNNER
I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider 310 it for this reason. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Renfrewshire has spoken of the very large number of boilers which will come under the present definition of a boiler. There are in the works of my firm an almost uncountable number of vessels which would come under the definition of a boiler, and there is no inspector in the right hon. Gentleman's Department or under the Board of Trade who would not be absolutely bewildered to come into our works and say which is and which is not a boiler. One word as to the standard of safety alluded to by my hon. friend the Member for Battersea. I may inform him that if the sixty-four boilers which work in a row at my works in Cheshire were subjected to the standard of safety under the Board of Trade that there is not one of them that would not be condemned.
§ *SIR JOHN BRUNNER
But they are inspected, and there are no boilers which are more carefully inspected, not only by the insurance company, but also by the highly skilled technical staff in the employment of my firm. Those boilers would be condemned under the Board of Trade rules, the reason being that because they are kept in such a good condition they last longer than the Board of Trade allow a boiler to be used. The fuel in these boilers is supplied with absolute regularity from the 1st of January to the end of December; they are fed with water which is carefully purified, and there is no corrosion, a leak is very rare, and they are the safest boilers in the country. Our boilers go on month after month, and when they are cleaned they are found to be as good as at the last period of inspection, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman not to put his proposal forward as an absolute and fixed rule. Let him give his inspectors, who should be thoroughly capable men, the right to say whether a boiler shall be stopped or not. I am pleased that the Member for Wansbeck has withdrawn his motion, and I strongly disapprove of his proposal that inspectors should all be men who have undergone five years apprenticeship at boiler making. Let us get rid of this old rule- 311 of-thumb system, and let our business be governed by intelligent men.
§ *COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
There is only one point which I desire to take up, and that is with regard to agricultural accidents, for it has been stated that these are in a great measure due to defective agricultural boilers. I have been through the list of accidents given in the last Report issued, which gives the various trades in which these accidents happened. I find that, so far from bearing out the impression conveyed to "the unsophisticated mind" of the hon. Member for Battersea, most of the accidents recorded prove the contrary. Out of 18 accidents recorded there was only one killed from anything that could be traced to an agricultural boiler or machinery used solely for agricultural purposes. Out of 68 accidents, in which 36 persons were killed, only five, were directly or indirectly traceable to accidents happening with agricultural machinery. It is not fair to bring before the House such a statement, because it casts an undeserved slur—although it may have not been intended as such—upon a very worthy body of men, worthy because they include, myself, who employ machinery for agricultural purposes. I can assure hon. Members that farmers for their own sake are extremely careful as to the class of machinery they use. There are, I know, a small proportion of cases where inferior boilers are used, but this is the exception, and the majority of threshing machines and chaff and hay-cutting machines, and other machinery used for agricultural purposes are, I believe, in quite as good a state as the ordinary class of boiler. I do not wish to enter into the question now as to the inspection of boilers, which has been gone into so fully, but I do maintain that you have no right to charge agricultural employers with employing an inferior class of machinery, and openly accusing them of exposing their men to dangers which they can prevent.
§ *MR. BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)
I do not often find myself in agreement with the hon. Baronet the Member for Northwich, but I think he has made out a strong case against the rejection of this Bill. I do not believe employers of labour in these 312 days will run any unnecessary risk, for they have to face the Compensation Act, and the odium which would attach to an employer who ran unnecessary risks would be such that it would not be worth his while to do so. I only rise to ask my right hon. friend the Home Secretary whether he will take care in appointing the Select Committee to put members upon it who are not either supporters or opponents of the Bill. My experience of Select Committees is that they are generally formed of people who are partisans, and I do not think that that is the best way to come to a right decision upon a Bill. I think the members of the Committee should be people who have no interest in the measure, and who have not prejudged it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.