HC Deb 25 May 1903 vol 122 cc1630-1
SIR THOMAS DEWAR (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)

I beg to ask the secretary of State for War whether he s aware that a number of Army blankets which were condemned in South Africa were sold to the training ship "Cornwall," where an outbreak of enteric fever has occurred among the boys on the ship and is directly traceable to the infected blankets; that the Public Health Department of the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney has detained forty tons, probably 30,000, of the same consignment in a warehouse in Assam Street, White chapel, as they were found to contain the enteric fever bacilli in large numbers; and that the blankets sold in South Africa are stored in Whitechapel; and if so, will the War Office consider the advisability of having them returned in order that they may be either destroyed or disinfected.

The following Question also appeared m the Paper—

CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)

To ask the Secretary of State for War if he will state how goods no longer required by his Department are disposed of; and what steps, if any, are taken in the case of goods as regards which there are grounds for presuming that they may carry infection, to prevent the spread of disease; and will he also state what steps were taken with this object in the case of blankets used by the troops in South Africa recently disposed of by the War Office.


I have ascertained that a large number of blankets have been sold by tender in South Africa. I have no power whatever to recall those blankets which have been sold. The ordnance regulations lay down that no condemned blanket should be sold before it has been torn in four pieces, and complete instructions are also included in medical regulations as to disinfection in every case of infectious disease. I also issued special orders to South Africa two years ago, neither to sell these nor to send home any textile fabrics which might convey infection, and I have called upon the General Officer Commanding to investigate and report fully on the matter, and to take steps to have any condemned blankets still remaining in South Africa destroyed.