HC Deb 22 April 1931 vol 251 cc973-4

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the enforcement of regulations, under Section ten of the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act, 1928, by officers of local authorities empowered to grant petroleum spirit licences under the Act. A similar Bill has already been before this House to try to put right a defect that occurred while the Act of 1928 was going through. By a small error in that year, none of the cities or other authorities have any power to deal with the presence of petrol. This is becoming a very dangerous business. It is well understood now that those having motor bicycles and not having places in which to accommodate them or their petrol are allowed to take the petrol inside their houses. I do not need to expand upon the dangers involved in that practice, and the loss of life and property that might occur from a fire starting in a tenement or any other building where there might be human life. In 1928 I drew attention to what was taking place then, and the right hon. Gentleman then in charge said that immediate steps would be taken to rectify the error, but no such steps were taken.

I have brought in this Bill before, with the agreement of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite and also above the Gangway opposite, that the Measure should go through, but on the night on which it was to go through it was opposed by our own Whips of the Labour party. Now I come forward with this Bill in the hope that, since the question of human life—and no one wants to see human life or even property destroyed—is involved, the basis upon which it rests will make a successful appeal to hon. Members in all parts of the House to let the Bill go through in the same way as an Indemnity Bill went through the other day to protect one individual against something that had been done relating to a telephone exchange. If it is possible for this House to agree to permit something to be done in connection with a post office, surely it is not too much to expect the same expediency when it is a matter of human life.

In my own city of Glasgow it has only been by good luck that we have not had a big holocaust and great loss of life. If such had occurred, there would have been the usual crocodile tears and sympathy from all quarters. Do not let us have any regrettable position like that. Let us use our intelligence in time, instead of waiting until it is too late. In my own constituency we have at the present time buildings in which entertainments are in one part and garages and the storage of petrol in the other, and yet the city council has not the power to inspect for the presence of petrol. All that this Bill asks is to give the local authorities power to inspect premises where petrol is kept. Those who know it, know its danger. The regulation itself is such a simple and small matter that it is only a question of something like four lines, and I know of no conditions obtaining anywhere upon which any Member of this House could possibly base any objections to this Bill. If you take docks and harbours or industries like transport, they too have suffered from this defect in the 1928 Act, and they too are trying to get this matter rectified. Surely therefore it is not too much to ask that, with the ever-increasing use of this dangerous element of petrol, especially where human life is concerned, power should be given to the local authorities to see to it that wherever petrol is stored the authorities may be able at all times to see to the safety of property and human life.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Hardie, Mr. Marcus, Mr. McKinlay, Dr. Marion Phillips, and Mr. Kelly.

  1. PETROLEUM BILL, 52 words