§ 95. Miss BONDFIELD
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to certain evidence given at the recent inquiry into the death of five persons who lost their lives in the fire at Film Waste Products, Limited, Union Wharf, Redhill Street, London, on 9th September, by which it appears that the district inspector was responsible for in- 1422 specting 2,309 factories and 2,546 workshops, half of these being subject to special Codes and Regulations; that the district inspector's staff consisted of one half-time man, with some occasional assistance from another inspector; and that it was impossible to carry out the annual inspection, much less the more constant inspection needed to secure safety in factories where dangerous trades are carried on, such as that where the fire occurred; and whether, in view of these facts and of the official statement in the latest Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories (1926) that the total number of registered factories in England, Wales, and Scotland amounts to 145,411 and the number of workshops to 121,861, while the inspecting staff, all told, including headquarters staff and technical branches, consisting of 205 men and women, he will give his serious consideration to the need for increasing the inspectorate without delay?
§ Sir V. HENDERSON
Yes, Sir. As the House is aware, my right hon. Friend has recognised for some time past that the factory inspectorate is in need of strengthening. With the full details of the recent distressing fire before him, he cannot attribute the occurrence in any degree to deficiency of inspection, but there have been considerable developments in connection with this industry which appear to him to call for increased attention, and he is considering what arrangements can be made for the purpose, in advance of any general augmentation of the factory staff, which cannot be undertaken until the Factories Bill is passed.