HC Deb 29 February 1928 vol 214 cc419-20
64. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Minister of Health whether he will state the steps, if any, he proposes to take to prevent injury to workmen, persons employed in garages, and the general public from ill-effects from the use of petrol diluted with lead tetraethyl; if he is aware that lead tetraethyl is a poisonous substance easily absorbed by the blood through the skin and that its use in garages has been proved to be dangerous; and whether, until his Department has examined into this matter, he will consider issuing special warnings to garages and to the local authorities?


Lead tetraethyl is a poisonous substance, and those who make or sell preparations of petrol which contain it should take or advise precautions designed to avoid danger from handling or using these products. There is at present no definite evidence of injurious results following the use of ethyl spirit. The desirability of further inquiries or research into the nature of any danger to the public from its use is being considered in conjunction with the Medical Research Council, but, pending such inquiry, it is not proposed to take action on the lines suggested by the hon. and gallant Member.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen a letter which appeared in the "Times" recently from the holder of one of the Chairs of Chemistry at Cambridge, in which he said that even the flooding of a carburettor and the getting of this petrol on the skin may bring about very serious poisoning; and, in view of this, will he not issue a warning interim to the report on the investigations?


Is my right hon. Friend aware that Switzerland prohibited the use of lead tetraethyl by an Ordinance in 1925?


No, Sir.


Will my right hon. Friend take into consideration the very extensive and expensive investigation which is now being carried out by a private company in the public interest?


I think it would be of advantage, in the first instance at any rate, to leave the matter to the Medical Research Council.