§ MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for India (1) whether his attention has been drawn to the letter of Mr. Holt S. Hallett on night work in Indian factories, which appeared in the Times, of 20th May; (2) whether he is aware that Mrs. Pechey Phipson, who for the last seven years has medically attended native Indian females, declared in her recent lecture, delivered in Bombay, thatA Hindoo girl of 15 is about equal to an English girl of 11, instead of the reverse, and that statements to the contrary by Englishmen who have no opportunity of becoming acquainted with Hindoo family life are totally misleading;(3) whether his attention has been drawn to the grave evils which result from night work in factories in India; (4) whether he is aware that girls in India from 14 upward are classed as women, and do the same work as men; (5) whether his attention has been drawn to the statement of Mr. Robert Baker, one of Her Majesty's Senior Inspectors of Factories, given be- 1594 fore the last Factory and Workshops Act Commission in this country, wherein he declared that "all night work for anybody is very injurious," and that this is a fair sample of the views held by each of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Factories and by every medical man who has been consulted on the subject; (6) whether his attention has been drawn to the statement of the honourable Mr. Bliss, thatThe Indian idea of night is that it is a cool and pleasant time when all work which does not require a better light than can be easily and readily afforded can best be done;(7) whether, as a fact, the temperature in Indian factories is usually very high, even at night being frequently 95 degrees;(8) whether the new Indian Factory Act affords any protection to hands employed in factories working less than four months in the year, or where less than 50 hands are employed;(9) whether his attention has been drawn to the evidence given before the Bombay Factory Commission of 1884, provingThat five-sevenths of the small ginning factories are in a dangerous condition," that "the same set of hands work both night and day with half-an-hour's rest in the evening. The same set continue working day and night for about eight days. …. The hands who work these long hours frequently die;and whether Mr. Holt Hallett's statement, that children under the new Act are allowed to work 168 hours a week in the minor factories and workshops, is correct?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Sir J. GORST,) Chatham
The answer to the first and second paragraphs of the hon. Member's question is in the affirmative. The Secretary of State has had his attention drawn to the letter of Mr. Holt S. Hallett on night work in Indian factories. which appeared in the Times of the 25th of May, who is no doubt a high authority on matters of this kind. With regard to the third paragraph of the question, the attention of the Secretary of State has been drawn to the evils which result from night work in factories in India. Night work for women is very much restricted by the Indian Factory Act, and is absolutely prohibited for children. In reply to the fourth paragraph of the question, I have to say that girls of 14 and upwards are classed as women; but the Secretary of State is not aware that they do the same work as men. The 1595 answer to the next question is in the affirmative. The answer to the sixth and seventh paragraphs of the question is also in the affirmative. The temperature in Indian factories is usually very high. The answer to the eighth question is that the Indian Factory Act empowers the Local Government to apply its provisions to factories employing 20 hands and upwards, provided that they work more than four months in the year. I understand that most of the cotton and linen factories in Bombay will come under the Act. The answer to the ninth question about the Bombay Factory Commission is that the statement of the hon. Member is perfectly correct; and the reply to the last question is that in the factories and workshops employing less than 20 hands there is no restriction whatever on the length of children's labour.
§ MR. S. SMITH
Will the right hon. Gentleman call the attention of the Government of India to the very unsatisfactory condition under which children are employed?
§ SIR J. GORST
I cannot do so, but I know that my noble Friend the Secretary for India has done so, and proper arrangements will be made for the protection of children.