§ 97. Mr. CHARLES DUNCAN
asked the Home Secretary whether he has now received a copy of the Report submitted to the Swansea Rural District Council by Dr. E. Rice Morgan, in which complaint was made that two horses had died from lead, arsenic, and zinc poisoning after eating grass impregnated with fumes from the Llansamlet Spelter Works; whether he realises the danger to human life from the consumption of vegetables grown in the district; and whether he can render assistance to this district council in enforcing such alterations in the plant as will prevent this evil in the future?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I have obtained a copy of this report from the local authority, but it does not disclose any conditions affecting the health of the persons employed in the works, with which alone I have power to deal under the Factory Act. It was pointed out, in the answer which was given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board on 17th December, that the local authority has power under the Public Health Act to take action with regard to any nuisance caused by the works, and I am informed by the local authority that it is proposed to do so if the nuisance alleged is continued.
§ 98. Mr. C. DUNCAN
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware of the risk of lead poisoning by the speltermen in the Swansea district owing to the poisonous fumes given off in smelting operations; whether he is aware that this is the only dangerous trade in this country where the workpeople are employed on the average for seventy hours per week without any 1380 break whatever the whole year round; and whether he will consider the possibility of having a special examination of all the men so employed by Home Office experts in lead poisoning, as owing to the present dispute every facility exists for a thorough inspection, with a view to the issue of such regulations as will prevent the dangers now only too prevalent, and thus prevent the risk to health and life now being experienced by these men?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I must refer my hon. Friend to the answers which I gave him on this subject on the 9th and 16th December. The conditions in this industry have recently been made the subject of careful inquiry, and, as a result, new regulations were brought into force as recently as October, 1911, for the purpose of safeguarding the workers against the dangers incident to the industry. No evidence has since been brought to my notice to show that the regulations are inadequate for the purpose of securing the workpeople from the danger of lead poisoning. The subject of the number of hours worked and the distribution of the shifts from week to week is not a matter on which I have any direct powers of intervention; but the matter is not being lost sight of.