HC Deb 13 July 1971 vol 821 cc203-4
25. Mr. Alec Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will issue guidance to health authorities over the use of furniture containing rubber or plastic foam in view of their potential fire risk.

Mr. Alison

We are continuing investigation of this question, and health authorities will be kept informed of developments.

Mr. Jones

Does not the hon. Gentleman understand that there is evidence to suggest that fires involving the use of these foam and rubber compounds, present serious smoke and fume hazards, and that such smoke and fume present in considerable volume in a hospital fire could well prevent the escape of patients?

Mr. Alison

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for writing to us in detail about this matter and for the concern which he shows. We have a problem here in combining in comfortable material, which is essential for hospital patients, the qualities of flame resistance. We are trying to develop a fabric for mattress covers which will be more flame-resistant. We are pressing ahead with developments as rapidly as possible. There is a balance of advantage in both directions here to be considered.