HC Deb 01 March 1928 vol 214 cc574-6
4 and 16. Colonel HOWARD-BURY

asked (1) the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the use of a new motor spirit called ethyl; and whether he has held or will hold an official examination into the nature of this motor spirit in view of the dangers of lead poisoning that may occur from its use;

(2) the President of the Board of Education whether the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research are investigating the uses of tetraethyl in motor vehicles; and, if not, in view of the danger of lead poisoning, will he cause such investigations to be made?

5. Major MacANDREW

asked the Home Secretary if he is aware that ethyl petrol contains lead tetraethyl; and if he intends to take any steps to regulate the use of this chemical, which produces lead poisoning?

13. Mr. HARDIE

asked the Home Secretary if he can now give any further information regarding the use of tetraethyl lead in petrol for motor-car engines?

The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Chamberlain)

I have been asked to reply to the several questions relating to ethyl petrol. As announced by my Noble Friend the Lord Privy Seal yesterday, I propose to set up a Committee of Inquiry, on which the Home Office, Air Ministry, the Medical Research Council and the Ministry of Health will be represented, and which will also include the Government chemist and some men of science unconnected with any Department. The exact composition and terms of reference of the Committee have not yet been decided.


In view of the great dangers that there are of lead poisoning, and as the Committee will take some time carrying out these investigations, could my right hon. Friend prohibit the use of this ethyl until that Committee has put forward its results?


No. The information which comes to me does not warrant the statement that there are great dangers up to the present. No case of poisoning has been reported in this country nor, so far as I am aware, in America, where the substance has been in use for a long time.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if, on the contrary, he has seen the statement of Sir William Pope, the well-known chemist, that five deaths occurred in America, and over a score of cases of poisoning, and will he instruct this Committee to make use of the data already collected by a daily newspaper, which appears to be very exhaustively going into the whole question, in order to save time?


Yes, but I know that a scientific committee was appointed in America by the Public Health Department there, consisting of, I think, seven scientific men, and that they stated that no positive evidence had been received by them showing that any cases of poisoning had occurred. I have not seen the paper to which the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Com- mander Kenworthy) refers, but I have no doubt the Committee will take into consideration every relevant matter.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Will the right hon. Gentleman look at the "Daily Mail," which is the paper in question? He may have heard of it.


Is it not the case that lead poisoning takes a considerable time to come out, and as this is a totally new spirit, there has been no time yet?


That is not so. The Commission in America to which I referred stated that they had had cases under observation for two years.


Is it not a fact that this spirit has been used in the United States of America by hundreds of thousands of motorists for a very long time?


I believe so.