HL Deb 08 December 1908 vol 198 cc205-6


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this Bill, although it is now printed and on the Table of your Lordships' House, was, by some mistake, not circulated with this morning's Papers. I do not want to seem to be urging your Lordships to give a Second Reading to a Bill which you have had no time to consider, and therefore I should be quite willing to postpone the Bill if that were considered by any noble Lord a desirable course to take. In the absence, however, of any hint on the subject, perhaps I may be allowed to move the Second Reading to-day, giving your Lordships ample time to consider the Bill before the next stage is taken.

The origin of this Bill was the International Conference which took place at Berne in 1906, when a Convention was signed by the representatives of Germany, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxemberg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland agreeing to prohibit in their countries both the manufacture and sale of matches containing white phosphorus. His Majesty's Government did not see their way to sign that Convention for reasons into which I need not enter this afternoon, as I have already had an opportunity of explaining the matter in your Lordships' House in reply to the noble Earl, Lord Lytton.

A new position has now been created. Representations have been made to the Home Office, on behalf of all the manufacturers of matches in the United Kingdom, that if the importation of matches made abroad with white phosphorus is prohibited by law they would be willing that the use of that material in the manufacture of matches in this country should be forbidden. In 1907 some 10,000,000 gross of boxes of phosphorus matches were imported into this country, and of that total 6,000,000 gross were safety matches; but of the remaining 4,000,000 gross probably the bulk were made with white phosphorus. By the fourth clause of the Bill manufacturers will be compelled—they have already offered to do so—on such reasonable terms as the Home Office and the Board of Trade may approve, to grant licences for the manufacture of "strike anywhere" matches by any process which is patented at the time of the passing of the Bill. I do not think, therefore, that there will be any increase in the cost of the manufacture of these "strike anywhere" matches. In these circumstances, and especially in view of the fact that this Bill will go far to prevent the danger of cases of phossy jaw occurring among match makers in the future, I hope your Lordships will agree to the Motion for the Second Reading.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Earl Beauchamp.)

On Question, Bill read 2a (according to order), and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.