HC Deb 20 December 1906 vol 167 cc1709-11
MR. THORNE (West Ham, S.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the death of Richard William West, aged fifteen, a porter employed at Messrs. Dakin and Co.'s tea warehouse, Cornwall Road, Lambeth, through putting on a driving belt while the machinery was in motion, and, in consequence of the jury expressing the opinion that the accident was the result of culpable negligence on the part of the firm in not having proper supervision of the whole of the work of the department, whether he will consider the possibility of taking criminal proceedings against the management of the firm; and whether, in view of the custom prevailing in all factories for driving belts to be put on the shafting wheels whilst the machinery is in full speed, he is prepared to issue an order to factory owners against allowing such a practice.

Notice had been given also of the following Question:—

MR. CHIOZZA MONEY (Paddington, N.)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been directed to the inquest held at Lambeth, on 15th December, on Richard William West, aged fifteen years, when the coroner's jury expressed the opinion that death was the result of culpable negligence on the part of the Dakin Tea Company, and that more safeguards ought to be provided for the machinery, and when the coroner, MR. Troutbeck, commenting on the case, said that the deceased boy, who was described as a foreman, had had no training and no experience, that it was a case of child labour, and that the circumstances were such as to invite accidents; if he will state upon what dates in the past two years His Majesty's factory inspector, visited the Dakin Tea Company's warehouse; and what reports were made by the inspector as the result of his visits; and what action he proposes to take in the matter.


I will answer with this the Question of my hon. friend the Member for North Paddington. I have received reports with regard to this accident, from which it appears that it was caused by the deceased attempting to fix a belt on the pulley of some overhead shafting while in motion. It was not due to any want of fencing or other breach of the Factory Act, and no proceedings are possible. The work was in my opinion such as a boy of fifteen should not have been allowed to perform, and I understand the firm have now arranged that the engineman shall have sole charge of the machinery. Visits were paid to this factory by inspectors in May, 1905, and in September and October, 1906, and instructions given with respect to the fencing of the machinery. I am not satisfied that proper supervision was exercised or proper precautions taken in this case, and I am making further inquiries.


inquired if it was the case that the factory inspector for this district had no acquaintance with practical engineering?


I will ascertain.