§ Mr. LAMBTON (Durham, S.E.)
To ask the President of the Board of Trade 262 if a prohibition has been issued, and on what date, against the importation of nitro-cotton containing mercury; and whether a firm would be bound to terminate its contract on the ground of fraud if chloride of mercury had been added so as to affect the recognised heat test by which the purity of the materials is ascertained.
(Answered by Mr. Secretary Gladstone.) I beg to answer this Question on behalf of my right hon. friend. There is no prohibition of the importation into this country of collodion cotton (i.e., nitro-cotton), whether containing mercury or not, when wet, because in that condition it is not regarded as an explosive. When dry, on the other hand, it cannot be imported, and even if imported could not be stored, without a licence; and no such licence would allow the presence of mercury. It is illegal to use collodion cotton containing mercury in the manufacture of explosives in this country, and a warning to this effect has recently been given through official channels to the manufacturers of a foreign state. It is not within my province to give an opinion on the legal point raised in the second part of the Question.