HC Deb 26 April 1926 vol 194 cc1649-50
36. Mr. DUNCAN

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that there have been three accidents on the Lochaber water power scheme recently as the result of men working with liquid oxygen as an explosive; whether any investigation or inquiry has taken place to ascertain the cause of such accidents; if so, what is the result of such inquiries; whether he is aware that this explosive is only at present in its experimental stages, and that the men are compelled to work on a bonus system whilst using this explosive; and whether, considering the risks to which the men are exposed owing to the dangerous fumes given off by this explosive, he will take the necessary steps to eliminate the extra risks arising, owing to the fact that the bonus system in operation is an inducement to the men concerned to take risks likely to endanger the health of the workmen so employed.?


I have been asked to reply. There have been three cases of men affected by fumes, none of them seriously. The cause was found on investigation to be that a small quantity of carbon monoxide was given off owing to the inferior quality of some of the materials supplied. Adequate precautions have been taken to prevent a recurrence. I am advised that it is not correct to speak of the process as being in the experimental stage: it has been used successfully abroad for several years. I am not sure what the hon. Member means by saying that the men are compelled to work on the bonus system. According to my information the men are paid the standard rates, and a bonus is given if the weekly progress exceeds a certain figure. There is no evidence before the Home Secretary to show that unnecessary risks are involved.

Colonel DAY

Will the hon. Member tell us what are the standard rates?


The standard rates are those paid by the Civil Engineering Contractors' Federation.

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