HC Deb 03 June 1907 vol 175 cc308-11
MR. G. A. HARDY (Suffolk, Stowmarket)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to a letter from the chairman of Kynochs, Limited, in which the Home Secretary is accused of straining the law against Kynochs, Limited, of being unjust and hostile, of refusing to arbitrate or to see the company's representative; and whether he can make any statement on the matter.


Yes, Sir. I have seen newspaper extracts containing statements of this nature. There has been no straining of the law. In the interests of public safety I have been bound to take action under the Explosives Acts. Arbitration, even if admissible under the Act, would not have met the requirements of the case. According to expert authority, and the regulations which necessarily I have to observe strictly, the use of chloride of mercury, as I have already stated, masks the heat test, and the explosive, therefore, cannot be passed as safe. The arbitration procedure does not give the necessary power to seize, and if need be, to confiscate the explosive, which may be a source of great danger. I have offered to consider any written statement which Messrs. Kynoch may wish to make, but I have nothing more to say while the matter is sub judice.

MR. MOONEY (Newry)

Is it not a fact that the inspectors of the Home Office seized upon the magazines of Messrs. Kynoch and suspended the manufacture of this particular article for nine months, while during the same period inspectors passed explosives including the same ingredients by other English manufacturers?


There was no distinction made. If any explosive is found to contain chloride of mercury, or that which in the opinion of the experts is dangerous to the public, the case will be dealt with and dealt with firmly.

MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not a fact that to the knowledge of the inspectors at the Home Office the manufacture of| this particular explosive manufactured in this particular way with this particular ingredient is going on by other manufacturers, and, further, whether similarly manufactured explosives are not imported into this country from South Africa and Germany containing the same ingredient, and in these circumstances why is one manufacturer singled out for this treatment?


It is not true that one manufacturer is singled out. In any similar cases brought to my know-ledge similar proceedings will be taken. I am not aware of any explosive being manufactured with this ingredient where we are not taking steps to deal with it.


The right hon. Gentleman has not answered my Question. Is it not a fact that this explosive is being manufactured in exactly the same way, with the same ingredients, by other manufacturers to the knowledge of the Home Office inspectors?


I say emphatically, no. I am not aware of explosives being manufactured with this ingredient, or that such is taking place.


Is the right hon. Gentleman taking any steps against other manufacturers, and, if so, why has he waited for nine months?


The case had been before the Courts of Law, and judgment has only recently been given by the magistrates. It was then taken to the High Court. It is quite obvious that until the law is decided it is impossible to take proceedings.


May I ask whether it is not the case that there is not a particle of evidence against any other manufacturer?


I am not prepared to say that, but, as I have already stated, of course I will take steps against any manufacturer who puts ingredients which are dangerous into explosives.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he makes up his mind to take actions against manufacturers in England will he take the same course that he did against Kynochs, and seize the magazines and prevent the manufacture for nine months?


That is really a hypothetical Question. I have really nothing to add to what I have already said.

MR. LEA (St. Pancras, E.)

asked whether, owing to the extraordinary dangerous nature of the ingredient, the right hon. Gentleman could not take criminal proceedings.


I have to act according to the law, and I am doing so.


asked whether it was not a fact that the inspector reported that other firms wore making explosives of this kind, and how was it that the only firm attacked was one giving large employment in Ireland?


said the proceedings against Messrs. Kynoch were due to the spontaneous explosion of some of their blasting gelatine. This led to an examination, which disclosed the presence of mercury.

Forward to