HC Deb 01 November 1916 vol 86 c1722

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the inquest on Mrs. Lydia Elizabeth Gibson, aged twenty-four, of Ponder's End, Enfield, who died in St. Bartholomew's Hospital from the effects of T.N.T. poisoning; whether he is aware that it was stated on evidence that the recommendations and precautions against this industrial disease are not being observed at Woolwich; that it was stated by Dr. Collis, the Home Office medical inspector, that as regards the health of women examiners the whole machinery of protection against poisoning had broken down; that the coroner declared that such cases occurred time and again and that it was impossible to find out who was responsible; and if he will say what further action is to be taken to protect all concerned against the poisonous effect of T.N.T. !

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Herbert Samuel)

The deceased in this case was an examiner in the service of the Inspection Department of the Ministry of Munitions, and was employed by that Department at a factory in the north of London; and, as I explained in answer to a recent question by the Noble Lord the Member for South Nottingham, the usual precautions had not been carried out in her case owing to a misunderstanding as to her position. It was to this point that Dr. Collis drew attention at the inquest. No reference was made to the conditions at Woolwich, "where, I am informed, the greatest care is exercised, nor was the deceased in any way connected with the Arsenal, but the Inspection Department used to have its headquarters at Woolwich and its examiners were, and still frequently are, referred to as Woolwich examiners. This, no doubt, gave rise to the erroneous impression that the Arsenal authorities were concerned in the case. As regards the steps being taken to protect workers against this disease, I would refer the hon. Member to answers to recent questions on this subject.