Chemicals (Home-made Explosives)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th March 1958.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington 12:00 am, 27th March 1958

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been drawn to recent accidents resulting from explosions caused by young people conducting experiments with chemicals which are freely on sale; and whether he will make a statement on the steps he has in mind to diminish the number of such accidents.

Photo of Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith , Chislehurst

These accidents result from experiments with chemicals which are not themselves explosive and of which, as they are in common use, the sale cannot be controlled. In the Guy Fawkes season, my Department issue Press and broadcast warnings of the dangers of home-made fireworks and explosives; and the last Report of Her Majesty's Inspector of Explosives calls attention to them. I hope that this Question and Answer will help to impress parents with the need to see that they are heeded.

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

Whilst thanking the Minister for that Answer, may I ask her whether it has been considered that it might be a wise step to ask the trade journals that circulate amongst purveyors of some of these proprietary chemicals if they could draw attention to these dangers? The Minister is aware that this has been done by the Pharmaceutical Society in relation to chemists. I gather that the Minister is also aware that most of the purchases are not made from pharmacists, and, therefore, if some attention could be drawn to the sale of items in other types of shop, it would be helpful.

Photo of Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith , Chislehurst

I am sure that we have the same purpose in mind as the hon. Gentleman. One of the difficulties is that if we give too much publicity to such items we may encourage the very people to acquire them that we do not want to encourage. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we have this matter under constant review, and we are as anxious as he is to prevent some of the unfortunate accidents of this sort that have occurred.