§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether complaints have been investigated by the Inspector of Factories in the East London District of breaches of the Truck Act by illegal deductions for fines, and what has been the result of the investigation; whether he is aware that certain employés have been dismissed immediately after giving information of breaches of the law; and, if this be true, whether he will give directions to the Public Prosecutor to take proceedings in order to punish such an attempt to defeat the ends of justice by terrorising witnesses?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
The Chief Inspector of Factories reports to me that he has inquired into alleged violations of the Truck Act by a firm in the East End, and has examined about 30 of the hands. He found that fines for carelessness in work had been deducted from the wages; but not very recently. The allegation that girls had been dismissed for giving evidence was denied by the employers; but in consequence of this allegation being repeated, the Inspector again visited the firm, and he found the whole of the females on strike. The girls whom he had previously examined were, according to the wages book, at work up to the time of the strike. I am unable, therefore, to discover any reasons for giving any directions to the Public Prosecutor in the matter.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
asked, whether it was the fact, as stated in the evening papers, that that morning, during a meeting held by the white slaves of that special firm, a man whilst making a statement was contradicted by the manager of the works, and then incontinently carried off to the Police Court, charged with assaulting the police—
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I called the hon. Gentleman to Order because he was asking an irregular Question.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
wished to know if these girls were not dismissed on the 27th of June for giving evidence, whereas the strike only occurred that morning?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, he was not aware of the fact now mentioned. He had gained his information from the Inspector's Report. That official said that this morning he had visited the place, and found the females on strike. He had examined the books, and found that the wages of the girls alleged to have been dismissed had been paid up to the time of the strike.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
inquired, if the strike took place in consequence of the dismissal of one of the girls who was asked to sign a contradiction of the statement given to the Inspector?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, he could not at present give any more information on the matter; but he would cause inquiries to be made.