HC Deb 17 April 1890 vol 343 cc668-9
MR. SAMUEL SMITH (Flintshire)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been drawn to the letter in the Times, of 10th April, from Mr. Holt S. Hallett, relative to the Amendment to the Indian Factory Acts, wherein he quotes the Report of Mr. Meade-King relative to the effect of factory work at an early age upon Indian children:— Nothing has impressed me more in the course of my inspection of the Bombay mills than the unhealthy, stunted, and puny appearance of a great number of the children whom I have seen at work; whether his attention has been drawn to the evidence of Mr. Drewett, which was laid before the Factory Commission, regarding the ginning factories in Khandesh, where in he states that— The women sit on the back of the gins, and have simply to lift up the cotton and push it forward. I have often seen them doing this mechanically, three-parts asleep. I think you will find that the women had worked night and day for as long as a week at a stretch. I do not think there is a double set of children any- where, and they must also have worked day and night. The women would have worked 23 out of the 24 hours; and whether the Government of India are taking any steps to cheek the abuses reported?


The Secretary of State has had his attention directed to the evidence as to the condition of women and children in Indian Factories. The Factory Law Amendment Bill, now before the Indian Legislature, will, to some extent, deal with the existing evils, and will, in particular, bring the ginning factories referred to in paragraph 2 of the question for the first time under legislative restriction. The proceedings of the Berlin Conference will be considered by the Government of India in reference to these matters before the Bill is passed into Law.