HC Deb 02 March 1911 vol 22 cc554-5

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the circumstances attending the death of Mrs. Emily Stewart, a widow of 85, who said she had been knocked down in Cropley Street by two boys who were roller-skating on the pavement; whether he is aware that at the inquest at the City mortuary on 27th February there was no evidence rebutting the statment; that the jury, in fact, found that she had been knocked down by two boys; that Inspector William Duncan admitted that roller-skating in the streets was a nuisance; that a juror expressed the opinion that it ought to be prohibited; and that the coroner, Mr. Danford Thomas, thoroughly endorsed that opinion; and whether, having regard to this additional indication of the dangers of roller-skating in the streets and these expressions of opinion, he will now reconsider his refusal to sanction by-laws by local authorities relating to the practice?


I have seen a newspaper report of the inquest in this case, from which it would appear that there was evidence rebutting the statement that the deceased was knocked down by boys on roller-skates. But whatever may be the facts of this particular accident, I see no reason to alter my views which I have already fully explained. I am prepared to consider a general by-law to regulate the practice where it can be shown to be dangerous, but I am not prepared to prohibit it any more than I would prohibit cycling, or driving, or motoring, because occasional accidents may occur; nor can I consent to make it a criminal offence in particular Metropolitan boroughs, while leaving it to be treated as a lawful pastime in other parts of the Metropolis.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has considered the very great danger caused to the children themselves by the habit of using roller skates in very crowded thoroughfares, and whether he is prepared to order the police to stop the traffic at such places as Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus in order to allow this pastime?


I am informed that this practice is not only common but general in Berlin, and I do not think we need take a more drastic view of children's pastimes than is taken by the police in Berlin.


Will the right hon. Gentleman also take into consideration the conduct of boys who skate round Tufnell Park?