§ 52. Mr. MELLER
asked the Home Secretary what provision has been made to house the families rendered homeless by the explosion in Mitcham; and whether he proposes to hold an inquiry as to the cause of the explosion?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I am informed that those of the families rendered homeless who required accommodation are being housed in the old Holborn Poor-Law School at Mitcham. This is a disused building, belonging to the London County Council, which has been lent by them for this purpose. As regards the investigation of the explosion, I will consider the question of holding a formal inquiry after the inquest is completed. As I have just stated, the circumstances will be made the subject of the most searching investigation possible.
§ Mr. MELLER
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the provision of accommodation is of a very temporary nature, quite unsuitable for the purpose, and that these homeless families are very anxious to obtain housing accommodation at the earliest possible moment? Will he or the Minister of Health give such facilities as are possible to enable these people to be housed properly in the shortest possible time?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
It is not the duty of the Home Office to take steps such as the hon. Member suggests, but whatever we can do to assist in that direction will no doubt be done.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Does the Secretary of State consider that, if this had happened to the West-End class, the people would have been treated in the way to which attention has been called by the hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. Meller)?
§ 51. Mr. BANFIELD (for Mr. THORNE)
asked the Home Secretary whether lie has caused inquiries to be made into the explosion at a chemical works in Mitcham, Surrey; whether any financial indemnity is being paid to tenants in respect to injuries received and loss of household effects; if he will state the date of the last visit to the works by a factory inspector and arrange to inspect a similar factory in the vicinity; and whether he will consider taking steps to prevent any similar factories being built adjacent to residential villas?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
Immediate steps were taken by the Factory Department to inquire into this disastrous explosion, one of the engineering inspectors with special knowledge of chemical works being detailed for the purpose, and the hon. Member may be assured that the fullest possible investigation will be carried out. On the question of indemnification, I understand that active steps are being taken by the firm with a view to an expeditious settlement of claims, and that meanwhile all immediate needs are being satisfactorily met from the local relief fund. The works were last visited by factory inspectors on the 12th December last. I am informed that, while there are, of course, a number of works where inflammable materials are in use, there is no other factory in Mitcham doing similar work, but, if the hon. Member will let me know the name and address of the factory which he has in mind, I shall be glad to arrange for a special inspection. As regards the last part of the question, all I can say at present is that the whole position will be most carefully reviewed when the full results of the Inspector's inquiries and the proceedings at the inquest are available.