HC Deb 10 July 1888 vol 328 cc885-6
MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)

asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether his attention has been called to an article in The Indian Spectator of June 17, respecting the excessively long hours of work in Indian factories, and, especially, to the following passage— They commence work in this hot weather at 5.30, and work till 6.30,—13 hours, probably 13½ hours. They have to walk 3 miles to their homes in the evening and 3 miles back in the morning, so that 15 to 15½ hours are daily consumed in work, and the remaining 8½ to 9 hours at home, not in sleep, for the morning meal has to be cooked before they leave, and the evening meal after they return; and, whether he will consider the expediency of recommending the Government of India to apply the English Factory Acts to that country?

MR. J. M. MACLEAN (Oldham)

asked the Under Secretary of State for India, If the attention of the India Office had been called to the excessive labour imposed upon the work-people in the Indian cotton mills, who commence work on Sundays as well as week days, even in the hottest weather, at 5.30 a.m., and go on till 6.30 p.m, 13, or probably 13½ hours, and who only have a rest of 10 minutes at noon for oiling the engines, while in some mills the engines are run from sunrise till sunset without stopping; whether a Commission ap- pointed 10 years ago, in Bombay, did not report in favour of closing the mills on Sundays, and restricting the hours of labour on week days; and, whether the Secretary of State will consider the expediency of extending the provisions of the English Factory Acts to India?


The careful attention of succesive Secretaries of State and Governments of India has been, from time to time, given to the subject of factory labour in India. A Commission was appointed 10 years ago and reported as described in the Question of the hon. Member for Oldham. Act No. XV., of 1881, regulates factory labour and restricts the employment of children. A Special Report on Indian Factories was recently drawn up by Mr. Jones, formerly Inspector of Factories in Bombay, which is printed as an Appendix to the Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories (in this country) for the year ending October 31, 1887. On the 3rd of May a despatch was sent by the Secretary of State in Council to the Government of India, calling attention to this Report, and asking for an early Report on the working of the Indian Factory Act, and inquiring whether it is proposed to modify the Act in the direction of additional stringency. To this despatch the Secretary of State is now awaiting a reply.