§ 3.16 p.m.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask whether Her Majesty's Government will study the report as to an explosion in Whitton, Birmingham, last year, which caused six deaths and a number of injured; and the subsequent recent prosecution of the firm concerned, who were then fined the maximum penalty under the Explosives Act 1875, of £10; and whether they will take early steps to secure the 722 increase of this quite inadequate penalty which can be imposed, even when, as in this case, the firm pleaded guilty.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (LORD HARRIS OF GREENWICH)
My Lords, this explosion is the subject of an inquiry by one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Explosives, whose report will be published. As to the penalty, the relevant provisions of the Explosives Act 1875 will be replaced by regulations made under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Bill now before your Lordships' House, which provides for substantially higher maximum penalties.
§ LORD CROOK
My Lords, may I thank the noble Lord for that reply which was exactly what some of us hoped but were not certain about from reading the draft. As a supplementary question, may I ask whether he is satisfied that the report will show, as prosecuting counsel said, that some time earlier the personnel had noted the bad housekeeping in this factory, and whether he believes that making a note of bad housekeeping is sufficient?
§ LORD HARRIS OF GREENWICH
My Lords, it would be better to await the report of the inspector before making a judgment on the issue that my noble friend raised. In fact, we expect to have the report from the inspector within a few weeks.