HC Deb 10 December 1953 vol 521 cc2162-3
22. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has considered the recent case, details of which have been supplied to him, in which a coroner's jury returned a verdict that a baby's death was caused by mercury poisoning, following an innocent over dosage of teething powders; and if he will take steps to ensure that such powders are sold to the public only in correct doses.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

According to a report in this morning's Press the company in question has decided that no further powders containing calomel should be put on the market, and that a powder free from mercury should be produced instead. I am having inquiries made.

Mr. Swingler

While welcoming the action of Messrs. Steedman and Co. in voluntarily withdrawing the calomel teething powder, may I ask the Home Secretary whether it is not of serious importance that two young babies have died very recently from mercury poisoning as a result of heavy doses of these powders without any warning being given to those who purchased them that such overdoses should not be given? In view of the evidence, would it not be a good action by the Home Secretary now to prohibit the use of these substances?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I have told the hon. Member that I am having inquiries made. I am most grateful to him for the information he has given on the matter, but the inquiries are not yet complete.