HC Deb 27 February 1919 vol 112 cc1940-1
37. Lieut.-Commander CRAIG

asked the Home Secretary what has been the average annual number of infants who, since the Children Act of 1908 came into force, have lost their lives from burns or scalding in consequence of being left in rooms with unprotected fires?


Figures are not available except for the year 1913. In that year returns made by coroners showed that 239 children under five years of age lost their lives as a result of burns at unprotected grates and stoves.

Lieutenant-Commander CRAIG

Would the right hon. Gentleman say why he fixes the age at five when the Act which provides inadequate protection for infants fixes the age at seven, and would he con- sider the desirability of giving an answer that has some relation to the law as it exists even if that law is inadequate?


I have endeavoured to do so. This is the best information that I have been able to get up to the present.

38. Lieutenant-Commander CRAIG

asked the Home Secretary whether, having regard to the fact that a person who has the custody, charge, or care of any child under the age of seven years only incurs criminal responsibility for leaving such child to be in any room containing an open fire grate not sufficiently protected, if the child is killed or suffers serious injury, he will consider the desirability of amending the existing law, so that responsibility shall attach for exposing the child to risk, and that death or serious injury shall not form an essential ingredient in the proof of offence?


This point was very fully considered in preparing the Children Bill of 1908, and was discussed when the Clause of that Bill was before this House, but it was held not to be practicable to enforce so wide a criminal liability. I fear that I cannot now reopen the question.