HC Deb 28 January 1960 vol 616 cc354-6
26. Mr. Farr

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of the recent accident in Ashby Parva, when 300 lb. of cyanide of potassium fell of a lorry with consequent danger to life, whether he will not introduce legislation to ensure adequate control over the carrying of poisonous substances by road.

28. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to include precautions against the recurrence of such accidents as the recent incident of potassium cyanide falling from an open lorry, in view of the dangers involved.

32. Wing Commander Bullus

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to ensure that poisons and other dangerous material are not transported on public roads in open lorries.

35. Mr. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that three drums containing enough potassium cyanide to kill a million people fell from a lorry at Ashby Parva, Leicestershire, recently; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure that adequate protection will be given to the public against the dangers of containers holding poisonous substances being transported in such a manner as to make it possible for similar accidents to occur in the future.

41. Mr. Dodds

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in view of the concern arising from a recent incident when three 100 lb. drums of potassium cyanide fell from an open lorry, if he will make a statement on the precautions now required to be taken for the transportation of these dangerous substances; and what instructions he has given in this connection in order to protect the public.

Mr. Renton

My right hon. Friend is aware of this incident. I am glad to say that there has been no report of any person or animal suffering any ill effects. The Poisons Rules, 1952, provide that it shall not be lawful to consign any poison for transport unless it is sufficiently stoutly packed to avoid leakage arising from the ordinary risks of handling and transport. The Rules also require suitable labelling. The Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations, 1955, made by the Minister of Transport, require loads to be secured to prevent falling and prohibit the use of unsuitable vehicles. I understand that the police have begun proceedings under the latter Regulations and I should prefer to make no further comment meanwhile.

Mr. Farr

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that throughout this dangerous cargo was treated in a very lax manner, that not only was the lorry driver unaware that he had lost this 300 lb. of poison, but the whole cargo was left unattended on a local village green overnight? May I be permitted to send my hon. and learned Friend the representations which I have received from certain bodies in my constituency who are very concerned about the whole matter?

Mr. Renton

It would be quite wrong for me to comment on the case while the matter is sub judice.

Mr. Allaun

Is not it the case that at present there are no regulations controlling the carriage by road of dangerous acids or liquids, other than petrol? Could not regulations covering the road transport of the whole range of dangerous substances be introduced, or could it not be conveniently added to or included in the code for marking vehicles, now awaiting publication and requested by Salford Fire Department some years ago, so that police and firemen would know how to deal with accidents when they occurred in this manner?

Mr. Renton

If I may correct the hon. Member, the Poisons Rules of 1952 laid down certain requirements for carrying these dangerous loads and created penalties for their contravention, but I should like to look into the latter part of his supplementary question.

Wing Commander Bullus

Can my hon. and learned Friend say how many such cases there have been in recent years? Is he aware that there have been many cases of poisons and dangerous drugs having been stolen from unattended cars, and should there not be some sort of protective action?

Mr. Renton

Will my hon. and gallant Friend put down a Question on that point?