HC Deb 18 July 1922 vol 156 cc1896-7
24. Mr. L. MALONE

asked the Home Secretary whether, as reported in the trial arising out of the Tipton explosion, the Disposal Board are under no obligation to inform purchasers of munitions for breaking-up purposes that a licence is required, and that the police also have no orders and no information on this matter; and whether, with a view to affording some protection to workers in this dangerous industry he will introduce legislation, either by way of an amendment of the Explosives Act or otherwise, requiring that the Disposal Board shall inform the purchaser of the necessity of obtaining such a licence, and shall inform the Home Office of the purchase made and of the place where it is proposed to deal with the explosives, and that before workers may be employed the Home Office shall inspect the premises, and also within a very short period after work is begun?


The Disposal Board have in every case informed purchasers of the necessity for complying with the requirements of the Explosives Act. The breach of the law at Tipton was due to the licensed firm sub-contracting with another firm, which was unlicensed, to do part of the breaking down. This was done without the knowledge of the Disposal Board. The Board now make it a condition of all such sales that no subcontract shall be entered into without their consent. They are also notifying all sales to the Home Office. As regards the last part of the question, the works are always inspected by the Explosives Department before a licence is issued, and the earliest opportunity is taken of inspecting them after they have started working. Fresh legislation does not appear to be necessary.

Captain GEE

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any sub-sales have taken place by the disposal of these articles to rebels in Ireland?


That question had better be put on the Paper.

25. Mr. MALONE

asked the Home Secretary whether he has read the Report of the trial arising out of the Tipton explosion, and the comment of the judge that there was at the factory concerned a gross exploitation of the work of little boys and girls; and whether, in view of the fact that several children of 14 and 15 perished in the explosion, he will introduce an Amendment to the Explosives Act prohibiting the employment of these young persons in the highly dangerous occupation of handling and breaking up explosives?


The Explosives Act already prohibits the employment in a danger building of any person under 16 years of age, except in the presence and under the supervision of a grown-up person. I will consider whether the Act should not be amended so as to make the prohibition absolute.


Is it not a fact that the Government might have taken the wisest course by controlling these munitions, and then these children's lives would have been saved?