HC Deb 19 June 1891 vol 354 cc907-81

As amended, further considered.

Proceeding resumed upon the Clause (Prohibition of employment of children under 11 years of age,) [read a second time 18th June],— (On and after the 1st day of January one thousand eight hundred and ninety-three no child under the age of 11 years shall be employed in a factory or workshop. Provided always, that any child lawfully employed under the principal Act, or any Act relating to the employment of children, at the time that the provisions of this section come into operation shall be exempt from its provisions.")—(Mr. Sydney Buxton.)

(4.5.) MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)

After the decision which was come to by the House last night, I should not have ventured to place on the Paper the Amendment which stands in my name, had it not been for the fact that there is a material difference in the position of children employed in Ireland and that of children employed in the rest of the United Kingdom. The hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. S. Buxton) and many of his friends have argued that as a question of public policy it is necessary in the interests of education to overrule the opinions of those who are engaged in conducting factories and workshops; but it is in the interests of education that I venture to submit my Amendment that the clause shall not apply to Ireland until a system of compulsory education has been established in that country. In Ireland the only compulsory education given is that which is given under the provisions of the Factory Act. The effect of this clause will be that all the children who now, by law, are provided with compulsory education paid for by their employers, will be relieved from the necessity of going to school, and the result will be that the great majority will cease to attend school. In regard to this question I believe there is practically an unanimous opinion among all classes and all religions. All I ask is that until Irish children are brought under the same conditions in regard to education as those which exist in this country this clause shall have no effect in Ireland. Then, again, in regard to the question of health. I have received from various medical officers connected with the administration of the Factory Acts in Ireland strong certificates as to the general good health which half-time children enjoy. They say that half-time children are much more healthy than those who are not so employed. It is by no means necessary that in the linen manufactories the same conditions should prevail as in the cotton mills of this country, and the arguments which have been used as to the effect of the unhealthy atmosphere of the cotton mills entirely fall to the ground. In fact there is a complete consensus of opinion among all who have a practical knowledge of the Irish children employed as half-timers as to the advantages of the existing system and the health of the children who are so employed. Upon these grounds I hope the hon. Gentleman opposite will agree that there is a material distinction between the case of Ireland and other parts of the United Kingdom. I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.

Amendment proposed, At the end of the Clause, to add the words "Provided that this section shall not apply to Ireland until a system of compulsory education has been established in that country."—(Mr. Macartney.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there added."


I hope I may be allowed to state the views of the Government at once on the Amendment, because I am exceedingly anxious to shorten the proceedings upon this Bill. I have listened with interest to what has fallen from my hon. Friend, who was bound to show that the clause of the hon. Gentleman would not operate altogether to the advantage of the children in Ireland. In that country there is no standard required for a child before entering upon employment, either in a factory or outside, and consequently if we postpone the age at which a child can enter a factory we should postpone the age when education is made compulsory for the child. But the grounds upon which the Government opposed the clause last night were that it was not in the interest of the manufacturers of Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Cheshire, and that it was certainly contrary to the wishes, and was not in accordance with the interests, of the parents and of the children themselves. The Government propose to accept the decision of the House upon the clause. It was eminently a case for the House of Commons to decide, representing as it does all portions of the Kingdom. My hon. Friend has alleged no sufficient reason why an advantage should be given to Irish manufacturers and Irish owners of factories over those of Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Cheshire in regard to the employment of children. To establish such a distinction would be invidious. Before the time when the clause will come into operation some system of compulsory education may be established in Ireland. I hope, therefore, in the interest of the time of the House, which is very valuable, that my hon. Friend will not think it necessary to press the Amendment to a Division.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

I voted against the Government last night, but I will support the Amendment, and, I hope my hon. Friend will persist. I wish to point out to the Government that in Ireland we have no compulsory education as in England, and no power of ensuring that the child will go to school. Consequently, if he is not allowed to work until he is 11 it will be found that between the ages of 10 and 11 he will be on the streets.


I cannot help expressing my regret at the decision of the Government in refusing to accept the Amendment, but, after what the Home Secretary has said, with the permission of the House, I will withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question again proposed, "That the Clause be added to the Bill."

(4.17.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)

I am extremely glad to hear that the Government accept the decision at which the House arrived last night. But it would be wrong if we on this side of the House allowed it to be considered that we regard this as a final settlement of the question. Perhaps I may be allowed to say that, in reference to some Amendments on the Paper and with the view of saving the time of the House, I rejoiced very much at the decision at which the House arrived last night. In my opinion, it vindicated the honour of England in the presence of Europe. In my opinion, the honour of England was deeply compromised by the conduct of the Government upon that question. A Conference was held at Berlin. I rejoice at these International Conferences; they are of enormous benefit to the peace and the friendly relations of the world. England took part in that Conference, and was one of the first advocates of a policy which should be beneficial to the labouring, and especially to the juvenile, population. But there is one point at which England is behind the rest of the world, and that is the age at which children may be employed. We entered at the Conference upon an undertaking, I will not say binding upon Parliament, because our Representatives reserved the rights of Parliament. The only body of men bound by the Conference was the Cabinet of the Queen. The delegates at Berlin were the Representatives of the Queen and the Government; they made those declarations, and the Government were bound to do all in their power to carry out the recommendations to which they had been a party. How do they now stand before Europe? The Government which had assented to those propositions endeavoured to defeat them in the House of Commons. In the Papers presented this morning we have further information as to what the nations of Europe are doing in the matter. The age fixed by France in a measure which has almost reached its final stage is 13—France, a country where the people are poorer and the wages are lower, and where they think a' great deal more of a sou than our labouring poor of a sixpence. Switzerland, one of the poorest countries in the world, and which yet is taking a foremost place in the manufactories of Europe, has long had 14; Germany has 13, Austria 14, and England is to be content with the age of 11, while Her Majesty's Government endeavour to fix the age at 10, a position occupied only by Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Is that the place which England with all her pretensions and all her preaching to the other nations of the world should hold? Is England to be content to rank in the lowest scale on questions of this character? It is an immense advantage that the House of Commons, in spite of the course taken by the Government, have determined to raise the age at least by a year, and I hope that we never will be content until England ranks with the first nations of Europe. I am afraid that the course taken by the Government has struck a very serious blow at Conferences of this character in the future. It was not asked that this country should place itself at the mercy of other nations by binding obligations with reference to industrial employment; but if these Conferences are observed in good faith, their results will be of enormous advantage to the nations of the world. The hon. Member for Poplar proposes to advance in this matter to the level of this country's declarations at Berlin, made not merely by the delegates, but authorised and confirmed by a man who is not only the Foreign Minister, but the Prime Minister of England. Those declarations, however, are to be receded from; and I do not think that this is a proud position to occupy, or one with which we have any reason to be satisfied. We have been told that the half-timers are learning to become factory mechanicians. It is quite as absurd to talk of picking cotton waste as work which is to make a child a good mechanician in future and to accustom him to all the processes of cotton manufacture, as it would be to say that the labourer's child who is sent out to scare crows and to pick up stones in the field is being educated for an agriculturist. We have to consider what is the best we can do for the children. If the Government are determined against the age of 11 I presume they will be still more determined against the age of 12; but I think that in declining to fulfil the declarations made in the Berlin Conference they are placing themselves in a false position, and encouraging other nations to back out. Other nations have been making efforts to fulfil their declarations not only in this respect, but upon many other points, and I quite agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. S. Buxton), that the effect of any doubt or hesitation on our part would only be to make matters worse than they were before. At all events, after the vote of last night, which was carried in the face of a powerful Government, we ought to show that the House of Commons is determined to go some way in fulfilling the obligations it has undertaken. I should be delighted to hear the Government say that they are prepared to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend (Mr. Buxton) which will come on later. They would then be fulfilling the obligations which we understood from the Prime Minister they were prepared to enter into.

*(4.25.) MR. ELLIOTT LEES (Oldham)

I thank the Government, as a Lancashire Member, for the firm stand which they made last night. They were placed in a very difficult position, many of their supporters who voted against them having desired to make this an open question. An assurance had been given that they intended to support the present age of 10; and but for that assurance considerable pressure might have been brought to bear. I think it is only fair, after the defeat they sustained last night, that we should thank them for having carried out their promise to support the present age, even at the risk of defeat. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt) has now raised the whole question again. I think he has acted injudiciously, and I do not think that of all the speeches we heard last night, and there were many which displayed great ignorance of the habits of half-timers there was one which showed so complete an ignorance as that which has just been delivered by the right hon. Gentleman. He spoke of half-timers employed in collecting cotton waste not learning to be "mechanicians," as though cotton spinning was the same thing as the trade of a mechanician! Other gentlemen who spoke last night assumed that in foreign countries there is something analogous to our half-time system. The hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst) told us with perfect truth that there is nothing analogous abroad. In Germany a child begins to work at 13 years of age, but he works for six hours a day, or 36 hours a week, whereas a half-timer in this country works for 30 hours one week and 26½ hours another week. The hon. Member for Manchester (Sir W. Houldsworth) told us that we, of all nations, are interested in getting the Berlin standard adopted, and that this is the only point on which we fall behind the Berlin standard. This means that we, as the nation most affected both as regards employers and employed by social restrictions, if we can get foreign nations to restrict themselves, will give our trade a better chance against foreign trade. But in order to induce the foreigner to restrict himself further, it is proposed that he should do away with the only thing we can give him in exchange. We ought to learn from our experience in the past that if we want to get anything out of foreigners we must have something to give them in return. Nevertheless, in this case we are doing away with the only thing we have to give them in exchange. I cannot help regretting some of the aspersions which in the course of the Debate were cast upon my constituents and the people of Lancashire. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment in very temperate language, took occasion in the course of his remarks to comment on the poor physique of the Lancashire operatives, and he went so far as to disparage the beauty of the Lancashire lasses. I am afraid that the remarks of the hon. Member will not be soon forgotten, and I do not think that a more incautious line could have been adopted by those who pretend to be the friends of the working classes. Hon. Members opposite seem to think that the working men cannot reckon, and that they do not appreciate the difference between an exemption of 3d. per week for school fees and the 3s. a week derived from a child's labour, or at any rate, that for the sake of the small remittance in the one case they would be willing to sacrifice the much larger sum received in the other. There is a good deal more that might be said against the proposal to raise the age to 12, but I will not further detain the House. I think the hon. Member for Poplar had better rest satisfied with the success he has achieved; and as for the Lancashire Members, our constituents will recognise that we have done our best to retain the present system.

(4.35) MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

We, on this side of the House, are quite content with the result of the Division of last night. I will at once respond to the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. I quite recognise that many hon. Gentlemen voted in favour of my proposal yesterday evening because they looked upon it as a sort of compromise between the original state of things and the proposal made in the Standing Committee. I feel, therefore, that I should be putting many hon. Gentlemen in a difficult position if I moved my clause raising the prohibited age to 12. On the whole, it would be better not to press that clause at the present time, as the danger of repeal would not then be encountered. I do, however, propose to move the next clause standing in my name, prohibiting the full-time employment of any child under 14.


I must express my approbation of the determination of the hon. Gentleman, because the Government would be compelled to oppose the second clause as they have opposed the first. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby speaks with great authority on questions of law; but when the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the dishonour resulting to England from the course adopted by the Government, did he mean to say that the Berlin Conference involved this country in any engagements to carry out the resolutions of the Conference at any given time and in any given way?


I perfectly understand, and I think it perfectly proper, that the delegates reserved to Parliament the right to deal with the matter. But they bound Her Majesty's Government to do their best to carry out the agreement arrived at.


I differ from the right hon. Gentleman entirely. I do not wish to depreciate the weight and importance of the Berlin Conference, but I conceive the result of the Conference to have been this—that the British delegates, with the approbation and permission of the Prime Minister, concurred in the recommendations made by the experts assembled at Berlin as being what was right in principle and best in abstract with regard to work in factories and workshops. But it is quite clear that the right and duty of giving effect to those recommendations was absolutely reserved for the British Parliament and Government. It is for them to choose the time, place, and manner; and the chief principle which must be their guide in the matter is the interest of the British people, and nothing else. No vainglory about leading the van in what might be the best and most philanthropic course ought to weigh against the well-considered interests of the people. The Government have found themselves face to face with this difficulty—that all the persons concerned in this particular factory legislation are against carrying out the recommendations of the Conference in this Bill. The Government, after consideration, concurred in the view that if the recommendations of the Conference were to be wisely put into effect in this country, it should not be in a Factory Act, but in an Education Act. The regulation of the age at which children should begin to work ought not to be applied exceptionally to one industry or the other, but to all industries alike; and considering the state of things which has grown up under the factory legislation of this country, and the many beneficial effects which have followed from the half-time system, the Government have thought that it would be unwise to proceed with a change in the regulations for factory and workshop employment while other employments are not dealt with. Therefore the Government have opposed the clause of the hon. Member for Poplar. The Government now accept very gladly the offer of the hon. Member, and I hope the House will consent at this period of the Session to compress the discussion into as small a space as possible.

*SIR H. JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)

There are a great many Members in the House who are very anxious to deal practically with the provisions of the Bill and to avoid any merely party discussions. The Division last night settled the question then before the House. A great deal has been said about the Berlin Conference, but the House is running the great danger this evening of entering into matters which will not assist the passing of the Bill. The question before the House is that the clause carried last night should be added to the Bill, and that is accepted by every one in the House. The hon. Member for Poplar has given up his Amendment raising the prohibited age to 12, and therefore the House is now engaged in discussing what the House has decided. No one, of course, would for a moment suppose that the right hon. Member for Derby interposed himself into the Debate for any Party purposes. Still, there are practical questions of great importance to be dealt with which will occupy ail the time at our disposal, and all further time spent on this question will be wasted.

(4.50.) MR. J. LOWTHER (Kent, Isle of Thanet)

I have no desire to waste the time of the House, but I think that time would be rather wasted than saved unless the House were to understand the position precisely. I listened to the able and statesmanlike speech of the Home Secretary last night, and I understood it to indicate that, in his judgment and in that of the majority of his colleagues, any further interference with the employment of juvenile labour was strongly to be disapproved. I hope that what the right hon. Gentleman has just said will not be understood in the sense of holding out any prospect that the Government will not remain firm to the principles laid down by them. I have always protested against this kind of legislation, and I have joined the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby in protesting against "grandmotherly" legislation. I believe that the people of this country would pronounce against the multiplication of this system of inspection, this continual interference with private life, this substitution of the law for the responsibility of the parent. I hope the Government have not any intention by piecemeal legislation of attaining the mischievous conclusions of the Berlin Conference. I am not speaking of the action of the Conference as a whole, but only of those specific Resolutions to which the delegates rashly gave their consent. Those Resolutions went far beyond the general working-class opinion of Great Britain, and they constituted an invasion of family rights. If the Government adhere to their resolve of last night on every Amendment which is moved in a mischievous direction, they will have the support of the great mass of their Party, and, moreover, they will have the support of the great mass of the voters who are interested in the subject.

MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)

I am hound to say that I voted with the majority last night, but I confess that the vote which I gave was given almost for the first time in my political career against a great weight of opinion in my own constituency. One object which I had in view was to settle this difficult question by a compromise, and I think it has been wisely settled. I am glad the hon. Member for Poplar has informed the Committee that he has given up all intention of moving another clause to raise the age to 12 years.

MR. H. BYRON REED (Bradford, E.)

I think that after what has just been said it would be well to take another division, and I hope we may be enabled to take it early.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause added.


I have now to move the new clause standing in my name. This clause does not seem to me to interfere with the compromise at which the House arrived last night, when it was decided to raise the age from 10 to 11. I now propose that we should extend the period for half-timers in the future from 13 to 14. I base this proposal mainly on the educational ground, and I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to support me in this matter, because he has admitted that the half-timers do not attain the same educational standard as the full-timers, whereby the half-timers are placed at a great disadvantage. I think the House ought to accept this Amendment as a complement to the clause it adopted last night.

New Clause— (Prohibition of the full time employment of a child of fourteen in a factory or workshop not having obtained an educational certificate.) On and after the first day of July one thousand eight hundred and ninety-two no child under the age of fourteen years shall he employed in a factory or workshop, other than under the half-time system. Provided always, that any child lawfully employed under the principal Act, or any Act relating to the employment of children, at the time that the provisions of this clause come into operation shall be exempt from its provisions,"—(Mr. Sydney Buxton,)

—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."


A child does not become a young person under the factory system until it is 14, or until it is 13 and has passed the fourth standard, and all the hon. Member proposes to do is to drop the possibility of a child working when it attains that fourth standard, and to substitute the fixed period of 14 years. A child of 13 is no longer subject to the bye-laws of the School Authority, and the consequence will be that if a child of that age is prevented from passing out of the half-time category into the full-time category in factories, that child will only go on full-time somewhere else. I really believe such a step as this would not improve education, for instead of remaining in factories the children would go to some other employment. There will be an almost irresistible temptation to take that course. I entreat the hon. Member to pause before he presses this clause, before he upsets a system, the success of which is shown by experience, a system which has adjusted itself to the wants and habits of the working classes, and the abolition of which would lead to a dislocation of their industries. The factories are already put at a disadvantage as compared with other employments. In my opinion, if a child has reached the age of 13 and acquires skill in factory work, it is better that it should remain there. Therefore, I regret to say that I shall be obliged to oppose the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman.

(5.7.) MR. NEVILLE (Liverpool, Exchange)

I shall support the Amendment of my hon. Friend. I say that the physical deterioration of our population is one of the greatest problems with which we have to deal. I am quite satisfied that the result of factory labour is physical deterioration. That that is the case is apparent to the senses of anybody who visits the factory districts of Lancashire and Yorkshire. Now, I am a Southern born and bred, with some little tendency to athletic sports, and some little knowledge of what physical form ought to be. Many years ago I went to the banks of the Mersey without any previouly conceived notions as to what factory hands were like. The first summer I was there I found that on every holiday and on every Saturday Liverpool was invaded by vast crowds of "cheap trippers." I mingled among them and I saw that, almost without exception, they exhibited the following characteristics, namely, they were short of stature, pale of face, narrow of chest, and in the enormous majority of cases their teeth were rotten to the gums. I am speaking of what I saw year after year, and although hon. Members opposite dissent from this view I prefer to believe the evidence of my own senses. These people exist in their tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands. That this is a result of factory employment is plain, for there are still parts of Lancashire which are mainly agricultural, and no finer race than the old Lancastrians could be found. If hon. Gentlemen compared the factory people to them they must be persuaded of the very serious physical deterioration of the former. To anyone who knows what factory work is it is evident that physical deterioration is inevitable, and that being so, it is a most important thing to keep the young children from factory labour as long as possible. I supported my hon. Friend last night, and shall do so again, because, so far as I can help to do it, I should like to keep young children out of the factories altogether.

*(5.12.) MR. JENNINGS (Stockport)

We have just listened to a good example of the arguments by which the House of Commons is invited to interfere with a great portion of the industries of this country. There could scarcely be a better specimen given of the reasons adduced for disturbing the occupation of thousands of persons and trying to unsettle the greatest industries we possess. The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken goes down to a watering-place and sees a number of young people coming along enjoying themselves. He measures their chests and examines their teeth, as if they were so many horses, and comes down and assures the House, on the evidence of his own personal experience, that the teeth of all these persons are rotten to the gums.


May I correct my hon. Friend. He is labouring under a mistake. I was speaking of a place in which I have lived for 10 years.


Well, then, for 10 years the hon. Gentleman has been examining teeth. He has been practising amateur dentistry on a scale never before known, and the result of his examination is that he comes down to the House of Commons and advises us practically to put an end to a large portion of the occupation which goes on in Lancashire and in the manufacturing districts of Yorkshire and Cheshire. I hope the people of those districts will mark the means taken in this House to make a dead set at one particular industry. Other industries may be carried on by these children; they may be made to work for their parents in other ways, but in the case of this particular industry, in which the children are well protected, in which there is nothing to be said against the occupation, as hon. Members opposite admitted last night, and in which the children's education is not neglected—all these advantages are to be set aside because an hon. Gentleman comes down to the House and says he has examined some teeth which were bad. It is impossible to exaggerate the injustice which will be done to the operatives of Lancashire and to the working classes generally by the class of legislation upon which the House is now embarking. There is scarcely a representative from the manufacturing districts who has not been urgently appealed to by his constituents to oppose the Amendment of the hon. Member for Poplar. Almost for the first time in the history of the House of Commons, the opinion of a large body of the representatives of the working people has been distinctly swept aside because a number of sentimentalists and pseudo-philanthropists got up to make a protest on behalf of children, who are not being ill-used, but who are simply allowed at an early age to accustom themselves to the employment which awaits them. The Member for Poplar dwelt upon the pallid cheeks of the Lancashire factory children, but is the hon. Gentleman familiar with the description Mr. Charles Booth has pubished of the condition of many of the children in Poplar in his own constituency? Does the hon. Gentleman think that the way to give children rosy cheeks is to send them to a Board School? The best way to do that is to give them decent food, which they are able to get by their little earnings in the employment which it is now proposed to take away. The hon. Member also dwelt upon the fact that the children in Lancashire factory population are not handsome. Indeed, that argument has prevailed largely in this Debate. Why does he not take the parents to task for that? Surely they are more responsible than the millowners? The life of these children is hard from the start. They are not wrapped up in cotton wool, like the children of the well-to-do, like the children of the hon. Member who can give them whatever they desire, and the House of Commons is not going to make their lives easier by driving them out of wholesome employment and sending them into the streets to work for hawkers and costermongers. I say that the legislation upon which the House is embarking is a cruel legislation. The labour which these children will have to do in after life must be taught to them when they are young. The hon. Member for Durham (Mr. J. Wilson) told us he began work when he was nine or ten years old. Well, he does not seem any the worse for it now. Philanthropists say it is wicked to make children work at nine or ten years of age. Is it not more wicked to send them half-starved from the gutters into the Board schools, as they appear to be, according to Mr. Charles Booth, in Poplar? I maintain that it is no disadvantage to a man to begin work young, and that the House of Commons has no right to step into any man's house and interfere with him in the management of his children, unless it can be shown that some hardship is being inflicted upon them. Lancashire as a body is against this legislation, and I believe the House is exceeding its proper functions in making the change.

*(5.22.) SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)

I confess that I have listened to the speech just delivered with even a greater amount of surprise than I felt when I heard the speech of the Home Secretary last night. Those speeches are about 40 years too late. They might have been delivered before the House and the country recognised that it was the duty of Parliament to look after the health of the people, but now they are sadly out of date. I can from my own experience confirm the statement as to the physical characteristics of the Lancashire operatives. They are stunted in their growth; they have narrow chests and other indications of physical decay, which are the results of the long hours of labour of their progenitors in the close, very often ill - ventilated, and always unhealthy factories in the textile industry. The Returns of the Registrar General give ample proof of that. These Returns deal with the prevalence of chest affections among various classes of the population. I find that among agricultural labourers the death-rate is represented by the mortality figure of 237. Among coal miners the figure is 328. And now I come to the textile industries. In the worsted and woollen branches the mortality figure is 462, or nearly double that among the agricultural labourers, and considerably greater than that among the coal miners, thus showing that it is the heat and special dust of the atmosphere which are so injurious to their physical well-being. But what is the case in the cotton industry which was defended in a speech just now which was such a sad anachronism in the present day? Why, the mortality figure runs up to 543 among cotton workers, as compared with the 237 among labourers in the open air. It is of no use wasting rhetoric or eloquence when these figures, which are unanswerable, prove that the factory population is exposed to degenerating causes which are characteristic of the industry in which they are engaged. My hon. Friend was last night successful in his endeavour to remove young children from these deteriorating consequences, and he wishes now, with perfectly logical correctness, and with humanity as correct as his logic, to extend the period during which they shall work as half-timers to 14 years of age. That age is the most important period in the physical development of children; they require then a larger amount of exposure to the fresh air in order that they may lay the foundation of being healthy men and women. That, too, is the period at which diseases of the respiratory organs are most likely to develop. I believe the House will adopt a retrograde policy and act contrary to the dictates of philanthropy and humanity, which have been so unnecessarily sneered at by hon. Members opposite, if it does not support the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar.

*(5.30.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster

I hope the House will not enter into a general discussion of a proposal embodied in a Bill brought in by the hon. Members for Liverpool and Ilkeston, and which practically means the prohibition of the employment of young persons in factories. The House is now discussing a much smaller proposal than that, namely, that children shall not be allowed to work full time until they are 14 years old. The Government entertain the view that it would be a misfortune to make that restriction, because it would be a temptation to take away the half-timer in a factory or workshop at the age of 13, and send him to some other employment where he might work as a full-timer. The matter is one which I trust the House will decide without prolonged debate. I believe the House desire to make progress with the Bill this evening, and, looking to the importance of passing the Bill in the Lords, I trust I am not asking too much from the House if I urge upon it the absolute importance of compressing the Debate within reasonable limits. Otherwise the chances of the Bill passing will be greatly endangered, and I believe Members in all parts of the House desire to see it passed.

(5.34.) MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)

I should be sorry if the Debate were so prolonged as to prevent the Bill from passing this year or even being finished to-night. The speeches of those opposed to the Amendment were speeches of men who did not know what they were talking about. I hold in my hand a Report made in the last few days by the Medical Officer of Health for Blackburn, and it is one of the most terrible indictments of our factory system that ever was written. It is true that this country holds the supremacy all over the world, but we pay a high price for it; and hon. Members, in supporting this Amendment, are doing what they can to lessen the hardship under which that supremacy is maintained. It is a very small advance that the Amendment seeks, and I wish the Home Secretary would as gracefully yield this point as he has accepted the other. Nobody would object to it, education would benefit enormously, and the health of the people would benefit also. The fact is, that between the age of 15 and 25 the death-rate of weavers in Blackburn is 22.5 per 1,000, whilst that of labourers is only 5.8 per 1,000—that is to say, more than four weavers died from lung disease in Blackburn between 15 and 22 to one labourer in the same town at the same age. [A VOICE: What is it in Sheffield?] Oh!—["Whose Report is it?"]—I am quoting from Dr. Barwise's Report.


I am glad that the two last speakers have produced Papers and facts to justify their question; and as to hon. Members opposite, I cannot but think that their attitude is prompted by the desire to have an election cry in Lancashire. I must deprecate in the strongest manner the spirit in which the hon. Member for Stockport dealt with the hon. Member for Liverpool, who spoke of the general health of these unfortunate white slaves. Though we have been informed by medical men that there is a high temperature in these mills, the atmosphere of which is filled with dust, yet one would imagine, from the remarks of hon. Members opposite, that this is all a mistake, and that the children positively love to work eight or ten hours a day. It is like saying that children love Jongh's—I have not a commission—Cod-liver Oil, and that they positively love it. By removing these evils in Lancashire, we shall be laying down a precedent for removing the evils in the East End referred to in the book of Mr. Booth. I hope the House, after making a step in advance last night in social legislation, will not stultify itself to-day by making a step backward.

(5.45.) MR. F. S. POWELL (Wigan)

I desire to emphatically repudiate the accusation of the hon. Member for Lanark that those Members who represent Lancashire are influenced on this question, not by their own judgment, but by the terrors of a coming General Election. At the same time, I should not be unwell- ing to accept the statement as a matter of argument, for by whose judgment should we be more influenced than by the electors of Lancashire, whom the question most nearly and directly affects? The accusation is untrue; but even if it be true, it is utterly fatal as an argument. Then it has been stated that the half-timers of Lancashire are simply white slaves, but the statement is worse than an exaggeration—it is absolutely untrue. As to the strange story about the bad teeth, and the remarks about the ill-health of the children employed, I am inclined to doubt, in the absence of strict examination, some of the medical statistics produced, especially those which have been quoted in reference to Blackburn, for there may possibly be many causes, local and general, which, if they were known, would greatly modify the medical reports in question. Anyone who goes into a large Lancashire town, where the mills are well constructed and properly conducted, and sees the workpeople entering or leaving the works in great multitudes, will see at a glance that that they are in health and vigour, that there is nothing of the air or appearance of white slavery about them, that they will contrast favourably with the workpeople of other trades, and are really a credit to Lancashire. Speaking from the experience of a lifetime among those people in Lancashire, I repudiate in the strongest language the suggestion that they are bound down by any condition of white slavery, or that their state of health is at all unsatisfactory. It is one of the objects of the Bill to improve the sanitary conditions under which the people work, and I assure hon. Members that they will act wisely in assisting the Government to pass the Bill. It is neither just nor fair that the House of Commons should impose restrictions upon a particular industry in opposition to the wishes of those engaged in it, and especially without full and proper notice.

(5.50.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

I think there is one aspect of the question which has not received due consideration in most of the speeches that have been made, namely, that the labour of very young persons is not economical. Manufacturers of experience have stated that it was an advantage to have the labour of children of greater age than 10 or 11, because it is thus possible to work the factories more economically. They go so far as to say that if the limit of age were raised to 13 there would be a greater inducement to introduce the best organisation and the best and most complete machinery, thus avoiding the waste and loss which arise from the imperfect labour of younger children. Then as to the point in regard to education, the House knows how loud have been the complaints lately concerning the severity, the still increasing severity, of the Continental competition to which English workpeople are exposed. Well, I believe that competition is largely due to the better general and technical education which the operatives on the Continent receive; and in view of this fact, and of what other nations have done in regard to education, it behoves us to raise the half-time limit, and to give the working classes of this country every possible advantage from education.

(5.55.) MR. B. MAPLE (Dulwich)

I wish to call attention to a point which has not yet been referred to—the very serious way in which the clause, if passed, will affect the workpeople of many other occupations than those engaged in the textile industry. Hon. Members have spoken as if only mills and factories in Lancashire, Yorkshire, and some other counties would be affected; but the Bill will touch the workpeople of all sorts of trades in all parts of the country, and particularly in the East of London. In the millinery, confectionery, upholstery, and many other like trades there is an immense number of young girls employed. None of these are half-timers; they have to enter the workplace for full time, or not at all. If this clause were passed, however, thousands of young persons under 14 years of age, especially in the East End of London, would be thrown out of employment—the work of philanthropists who do not understand the working classes—and it would not be possible to employ any boy or girl in future under the age of 14. If the clause is passed it will be oppressive to a large class of people whose children are able to contribute, and are now laudably contributing, to the support and comfort of their families.

(6.0.) MR. W. ABRAHAM (Glamorgan, Rhondda)

It can scarcely be said that I do not understand something about the condition of working men, and therefore I may be permitted to say a few words. Much has been said during the Debate as to the necessity of allowing the children in factory districts to be worked at an age earlier than children through out the country generally. [Mr. MATTHEWS: No.] The right hon. Gentleman says "No," but I would like him to go to the colliery districts and see which of us is right. If what I say is so there must be some reason for it. As a Labour Representative, I desire to know what it is that stints the population in the factory districts in such a manner that the fathers are not able to earn sufficient to maintain their families without the assistance of their children of tender years, and in many cases of their wives? It is well for the workmen in the factory districts to realise that there must be some reason for this state of things. Are we to understand that the men of these districts have not the same amount of bone and sinew as the workmen in other districts have? If they have not, to what is the effect to be attributed? There must be some outside influence at work. The leaders of the Lancashire operatives—and they are as good political economists as the leaders of the working men anywhere—have asserted over and over again that wherever child labour is prevalent the wages of adults are low. What is the outside influence that causes the operatives to tie themselves down to this state of comparative bondage? In the great colliery districts no child can be employed under any conditions before 12 years of age, and a child cannot go to work even at that age unless he has passed the Fifth Standard. Is there a similar state of things in Lancashire? No. Children in Lancashire can be employed after they have passed the Fourth Standard. Again and again during the Debate we have been told that the Representatives of factory districts who sit on the Government Benches are against the proposed improvement. It must be quite plain to the people that it is Conservative influence which is keeping the children down. [Cries of "Oh!"] Well, if that is not the reason, let hon. Members give the House another.

(6.5.) The House divided:—Ayes 164; Noes 189.—(Div. List, No. 300.)

New Clause—

(Amendment of 40 Vic. c. 16, s. 5, as to dangerous machinery.

"In Section 5, Subsection (3), of the principal Act, before the words 'every part,' shall be inserted the words 'all dangerous machinery, and,'"—(Mr. David Randell.)

—brought up, and read the first and second time, amended, and added.

(6.21.) MR. RANDELL (Glamorgan, Gower)

I now beg to move the clause standing in my name relating to laundries. I move this Amendment on behalf of a class of workpeople who, I think, it will be generally admitted, are excessively hard-worked, poor, and practically non-protected. The first part of the Amendment deals with steam laundries, and the second part deals with what are called manual laundries or workshops. As it would tend to aggravate the evils complained of to possibly include the steam and exclude the manual laundries, I propose to move the Amendment in its entirety. The object of my Amendment is to bring under the operation of the Factory Act all laundries except domestic laundries. Laundries may be divided into three classes—firstly, the large steam laundries worked by Limited Liability Companies and employing on an average 60 hands; secondly, steam laundries worked by private individuals employing on an average 30 hands; and, thirdly, cottage or hand laundries, employing from 1 to 50 or 60 hands. In the case of the steam laundries, the sanitary conditions are for the most part good; but in the cottage laundries those conditions are positively bad; indeed, in many of them there is an entire absence of sanitary arrangements. Of the latter class of laundries it has been graphically said that the washing takes place in the kitchen, the ironing in the bedroom, and the drying in the passage and over the beds. The ventilation in these laundries is bad owing to the fact that they are not provided with drying rooms. The laundresses are required to work in a temperature of 100 degrees; at this time of the year in a higher temperature. The atmosphere is also impregnated with steam from clothes drying in the same room. The workwomen are often attacked by infectious diseases, the ironers being peculiarly liable to consumption, owing to the overcrowded and ill-ventilated rooms. In the steam laundries the working hours are spread over the whole week. On Monday the people work 12 hours, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday and Friday 14, and Saturday 10, making a total of 77. Nine hours are allowed for meals, so that the working hours number 68. In many of the small laundries the work is crowded into four days, and, in consequence, the hours worked are 15, 16, and 18 per day. If the laundries are brought under the Factory Acts this state of things may be altered, because the proprietors will alter their arrangements for collecting the linen, and the customers will have to conform to the new arrangements. Yesterday, and again to-day, we have been discussing the question of half-timers; but what of the juvenile labour in laundries? The House will be astonished to hear that there are employed in the steam laundries a class of operatives known as machine ironers. These are young girls between 10 and 14 years of age. They work the same long hours as the adults, and their work consists in putting clothes through heated rollers driven by steam. Owing to the lack of fencing, the want of protection, and the wearying long hours of labour, they often put in their fingers instead. I have myself seen some of these girls, one of whom had lost all the fingers of her right hand. And I am told that such accidents often occur. The laundresses do not ask for special or exceptional legislation: they simply demand, as I believe is their right, the extension of the existing Factory Law to themselves. At present there is no sort of restraint imposed upon laundry proprietors in the matter of hours; and if the laundresses were placed under protection of the Factory Laws, their hours of labour would be less by at least eight hours per week. In many of the best laundries there is much complicated machinery running at great speed with ingathering cogwheels at every turn, with only small gangways through which the female operatives pass, and their loose-flowing garments are especially liable to be caught in the machinery. I should have thought there would have been some sort of fencing for this machinery, as there is in textile and non-textile factories, but I was surprised to find in the steam laundry I visited the other day, one of the best of its kind, an entire absence of such fencing to protect the workers. No doubt the Employers' Liability Act is a very good thing, enabling people who are injured to recover damages, but I think that it is of far greater importance that the Legislature should step in and insist on the fencing of this machinery to protect the workwomen. The objection to my Amendment comes, I think, from the smaller laundries principally, an opposition which, I think, has been promoted by certain landlords, for I find that the Petition presented to the House against the inclusion of laundries has been signed by several landlords. But I think, in point of tactics, it would have been better to have kept the names of these landlords out of view, for I am informed that many landlords are directly interested in this matter, and exact a rack-rent for their houses in which laundry work is carried on. The objection has conic from the smaller laundries, but, as I have said, we do not propose to touch the domestic workshops where members of a family are employed in an industry; but when they engage hands from outside, then it becomes a trade workshop, and should be subject to the regulations we consider desirable in such cases. I maintain that no one has a right to carry on a trade which can only be carried on under conditions which the law has declared unsuitable. If I understand my hon. Friend opposite, who takes such an interest in this opposition, the objection has been narrowed down to the question of hours of employment. I understand there is no objection to bringing these laundries under the sanitary regulations of the Factory Act and Section 1 of the Bill we are now dealing with. This question of restricting the hours can be dealt with in a very simple manner. If my Amendment is carried, I would suggest that the Home Secretary should place laundries under the 3rd Schedule of the principal Act. Section 56 would then enable him to grant overtime of two hours (less one half-hour for meals) on 96 days in the course of the year, and 96 days' exception for overtime purposes ought to satisfy the objection of my hon. Friend opposite. Of the opinion in favour of my proposal there can be no doubt. I presume the Home Secretary is aware of the meeting held in Hyde Park on Sunday? I was not present, but from what I have been told, and from what I have read of the proceedings, I gather that the feeling was entirely in favour of my proposal. 5,000 or 6,000 laundresses were present at the Hyde Park meeting, and at the same time a similar meeting was held at Brighton, where, whatever was lacking in numbers, was made up in earnestness and enthusiasm. At both meetings resolutions were passed asking the House to include laundries under the Factory Laws. There is no doubt as to the opinion of the operatives concerned, and I ask the attention of the Home Secretary to this fact. Last night, in relation to raising the age for half-timers in factories, the right hon. Gentleman relied much on the fact that the operatives themselves were in favour of his contention against, though the opinion was not that of the half-timers, but of their parents. Now, I ask him to follow out his argument in relation to laundresses. Let me ask his attention to the manner in which opinion has been expressed. As the result of a canvass among the laundresses of London we find that of 67,506 canvassed 65,939 expressed themselves in favour of being brought under the Factory Laws, 439 were opposed to the proposition, and the neutrals were 1,128. The canvass was of a general character, it included Whitechapel and the East of London, the North and North-West, Kensington and the West, the South and South-East. It cannot be said that the women were not fully aware of what they were doing in assenting to or rejecting the proposition submitted, because in a simple form the questions were submitted to them, were they in favour of the restriction of the hours of work to 12, of the sanitary regulations, of the prevention of overcrowding, of the visits of Inspectors. The several points were put before each laundress, and there was this immense preponderance of feeling in favour of this proposal. I may mention that from laundry proprietors I have a number of resolutions, including the National Laundry Association, embracing several hundred laundry proprietors, entirely in favour of my Amendment. Then, again, the laundresses of Brighton, Bristol, Swansea, and many other places have sent in like resolutions. In addition, we have the opinions of Trades' Councils all over the country expressed in the same direction. The great Labour Parliament of the country, the Trades' Union Congress held at Liverpool, passed a resolution in support of this proposal, and resolutions of sympathy by the Trade Councils of London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol, Belfast, Swansea, Aberdeen, and by 20 or 30 other Trades' Councils have been passed to the same effect. There is thus presented a mass of opinion well deserving the attention of this House. Then I have also sought the opinion of Factory Inspectors. They have been directed to visit laundries when accidents have happened, but they have found they have no jurisdiction, and so nothing has been done to prevent a recurrence of such accidents. In 1888 Mr. Bowling, then Inspector at the East End of London, made a Report to the Chief Inspector, in which he said he found the steam laundry full of dangerous machinery, the work almost entirely done by women, in its nature very trying, and the hours of work excessive. In one steam laundry in his district, to which he was sent in relation to an investigation into the causes of an accident there, the Manager admitted that the girls were sometimes worked from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Now, what would medical men say to the probable effect of this upon young women of from 18 to 20 years of age? But the Inspector was powerless to interfere to help them. I will not detain the House further, but I maintain that our factory laws will be incomplete unless they include laundries, and whatever may be the result of this Division to-night, I am sure that they must be included sooner or later. The demand of the laundresses is reasonable, they ask for no special legislation, they simply ask that they shall have the same protection extended to other women workers. They number 100,000 in London alone, and I think that such an important and growing industry should not be left unregulated and uncontrolled among the other industries of the country in which women are concerned. I think my case is amply made out, and I do not doubt that if Members freely vote on the merits of the case they will come to a just decision and accept my Amendment. I ask the Home Secretary who, on a previous occasion, showed such sympathy for miners who have the support of a powerful organisation and many direct representatives to champion their cause in this House, to extend his sympathy to a class of humble workers who so greatly need legislative protection.

New Clause—


"In section ninety-three, sub-section 3 (c.) of the principal Act, after the words 'in or incidental to the adapting for sale of any article,' shall be inserted the words 'or (d.) in or incidental to the washing or cleaning of household or body linen,' and after the word 'manufacturing,' shall be inserted the words 'or other.'

In the definition of the expression 'workshop,' in the principal Act, section ninety-three, subsection 2 (c.) shall be added the words 'or (d.) in or incidental to the washing or cleaning of household or body linen,'"—(Mr. D. Randell,)

—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed'" That the Clause be read a second time."

*(6.44.) MR. BAUMANN (Camberwell, Peckham)

As I represent a constituency in which is included, perhaps, more laundries than in any other district in London, and certainly one of the largest steam laundries in London, I desire to explain in a few words why I support the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman, and shall vote for it. I fail to understand why the Home Secretary should not accept the Clause. What is the object and what has been the object of all of factory legislation? The object of our Factory Acts has been to protect the labour of women, of young persons, and children. Now, laundresses are women, and laundresses labour, and I want to know upon what ground is this special treatment to be applied to laundresses? Why are the women who sew our shirts to be protected, and the women who wash those shirts to be excluded from that protection? The right hon. Gentleman cannot say the labour is not hard when we know that it sometimes occupies 16 and 18 hours out of the 24. The right hon. Gentleman cannot say that the public are not interested, because I imagine that people are deeply interested in having their linen washed under proper sanitary conditions. The right hon. Gentleman cannot say that laundresses are not a body sufficiently numerous and important to be protected, because the hon. Gentleman has just told us that they number 100,000 in the Metropolis alone. What would be the precise legislative effect of accepting the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman opposite? It would, I think, be this. The steam laundries would become non-textile factories, and the large laundries without steam would become workshops, where women might be employed for 48 days overtime in the year, so that they might meet season pressure. If that is not enough, then the hon. Gentleman says to the Secretary of State, "Put them in the third schedule, and give them 96 days overtime." Now, I put it to anybody whether 96 days—14 weeks overtime—in the year is not an ample allowance to this industry for anything in the nature of seasonable pressure. With regard to the smaller laundries, where I foresee it would be very difficult, and, if practicable, it may not be desirable to interfere. In regard to cottage laundries, they would not be touched by the acceptance of this reform; they would come under the head of domestic workshops, and not be subject to regulations as to hours of labour. ["No, no."] I have read the Act very carefully, and I have had the honour of drafting two Acts in relation to this subject in two successive years, and I may claim to be familiar with the provisions of this complicated Act. It is possible I may be mistaken, but if I am I am open to correction, but I understand that in domestic workshops the hours of labour are not regulated. That is my only contention. In cottage laundries, where the washing is done in a private house, the hours of labour for women would be untouched, and it is desirable these should remain so. With regard to sanitary regulations, of course they would be interfered with, as they ought to be. The only argument I can see against including laundries in the operation of the Factory Act is what I may call the "carpet-bag" argument. If laundries come within the operation of the Act it will no longer be possible for people to say, "I must have my linen back by tomorrow night." No doubt there will be some inconvenience occasioned to people in London and elsewhere, but I can only say that for this gentlemen must find a remedy for themselves; they must have a larger margin of linen. I cannot for a moment admit it is a serious argument to be advanced against a proposal of this kind. I shall certainly vote for the Amendment on the ground that the labour of washerwomen is entitled to be protected as carefully and as strictly as the labour of any other class of women.

(6.50.) MR. MATTHEWS

No doubt laundresses are working women, and so are waitresses, ladies' maids, shop assistants, and many other classes engaged in other classes of labour, and who yet, by repeated decisions of Committees, Commissions, and Acts of Parliament, have been passed over and deliberately shut out from the operation of our factory and workshops legislation. Our Factory and Workshops Acts have, by repeated decisions of Parliament, been confined to establishments in which, by means of steam power, or without steam power, articles are manufactured for purposes of gain. The definition is work conducted for purposes of gain or incidental to the manufacture of articles for sale.


Change the definition.


The hon. Member now wishes to enlarge this definition. He raised this question in Committee, and he was defeated by an enormous majority; and I should have supposed the result would not have induced him to bring up this question again. The hon. Member now proposes to open up the definition.

An hon. MEMBER

There is no finality in it.


Quite true. I do not say it is conclusive, but upon this definition a peculiarly complicated series of regulations has been built up. For such establishments were these rules and regulations intended, and if once you begin to let in other labour, I do not see where the line is to be drawn. I do not see why the Inspector should not go and see that the cook does not sit up too late. She is a working woman, as all domestic servants are, and it may be that some of them work 16 hours a day. It is not necessary to include laundries under this Act. The hon. Member who moved this Amendment said that domestic laundries would not be touched, and my hon. Friend (Mr. Baumann) at first started a similar proposition, though he afterwards pulled himself up, and brought himself within the limits of the actual facts. Domestic laundries would be brought within the limits of Section 16, and would be subject to the visits of Inspectors; and, before I pass from this part of the subject, let me mention a fact which will be of interest to Members from Ireland. In Ireland, I believe, a great deal of the laundry work is done in convents, and this clause would involve the visits of Inspectors to those institutions to see how the work is carried on, under what conditions, and during what hours. I ask hon. Members from Ireland how far this would be consonant with the wishes of their constituents? I sympathise with the complaints of the hardships to which laundresses are subjected. It is an industry particularly liable to excess of work on particular days and at particular seasons, and this is inevitable from the habits of the public, habits that may be influenced by public opinion, but should not be made the subject of legislation. It is the habit of the public to require the delivery of clean linen on Saturdays and the collection of dirty linen on Mondays, so that these are almost idle days in the laundry, the work being compressed into the remaining days of the week. Thursday and Friday are days of severe work and prolonged hours, especially to the ironers. But this arises from the habits of the public, and the remedy is to be found in an alteration of the habits of the public by the influence of public opinion. So also during particular seasons in the year. In London there is an excess of work at one season and almost a cessation of work at another time, so much so that laundresses go to Brighton, Eastbourne, and other places of popular resort, following the dirty shirts. There is also a glut of hotel work at times, and the hon. Member for Peckham finds a remedy for this in a larger margin of linen, but that also means an enlargement of the limits of the portmanteau. As it is a man carrying a limited supply of linen, arrives at an hotel one day and demands his clean shirts the next day. These are trifling matters, but they go to make up the convenience of the public, and if it is desired to make the public alter settled habits, that can be done without such an Amendment as this. I agree that the opinion of those concerned should be consulted, and I have done my best to ascertain that opinion, and my opinion is that the vast majority of women laundresses are against this suggestion; and all this Hyde Park demonstration was adroitly got up by those who are not interested in laundries. I believe there are hundreds of poor women who carry on laundry work at their own cottages who are obliged to do this work at odd times and unusual hours, and at the occupation of these humble deserving women this clause would strike a blow not contemplated by those who support the Amendment. When the hon. Member talks about including laundries in this or that schedule for purposes of overtime, does the House realise that if the Amendment were carried we should have to go through the Act and amend, perhaps, a dozen sections to make the Act applicable to this new system, to introduce safeguards under the strict enforcement of the Factory Acts? The hon. Member has not taken the trouble to go into this, he has not considered the consequential Amendments, he talks about steam and other laundries, but he has not considered the full effect of his Amendment in large laundries where steam power is never used. Is the House aware that laundries are expressly included within the sanitary provisions of Section 1, and that the Secretary of State has express powers of intervention under the Public Health Act? Bad ventilation, over-crowding, and the generation of vapours prejudicial to health will be prevented in laundries by the Bill as it stands. Is the House going to apply to village washerwomen the regulations respecting factories without any further reasons than the hon. Member has given? I shall certainly vote against the Amendment, and I hope the House will reject it.


I do not think I ever heard the Home Secretary to less advantage than on the present occasion. As far as I have heard, he has not adduced a single argument why we should except the 100,000 laundresses in London and the thousands in other parts of the country from, the blessings of the Factory Acts which protect nearly every other class of women. All that has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman is in the nature of special pleading. We are prepared on this side of the House to accept any provision he may suggest to us in reference to those women who wash in cottages, or in any place where hands are not employed apart from members of the family. What we ask him to do is to protect a very hard-worked class of women. We are not asking him to adopt any philanthropic or faddish legislation. I am not quite sure that the mover of the Amendment made enough of the figures he referred to. During the first three weeks 67,000 women have been visited in London. I suppose it was impossible for any wicked agitator of any kind to bring pressure to bear upon those women, but, out of the number, 65,939 expressed themselves as favourable to the Amendment. I want to know whether this does not amount to a strong demand for the proposal, and whether it is worthy of the Home Secretary to dismiss the question with a jest respecting ladies' maids and industries in no way akin to this one, thus prejudicing the case of thousands of women who regard the matter as of vital importance to them. A Petition was presented to the House by one of the Members for London praying that a certain number of laundries should not be included in the provisions of the Act. The great bulk of the signatures were, I think, appended to it in the month of April, when the question had not been discussed as it has been now, and when public opinion had not ripened upon it. I have little doubt that before we come to a Division we shall hear again and again the old arguments about the tyranny of the Inspector and the terrible things that will ensue when British independence and the "Briton's home is his castle," and all the rest of it, are invaded. I want to point out that in no single instance have any of these protests come from the workmen. On the contrary, the great majority of their working class look on the visit of the Inspector and the Government official as their one solitary bulwark against the grinding tyranny of employers—a tyranny which in many cases, and especially in this case of the women, reduces the workpeople to the condition of white slaves. The words "white slaves" were objected to in a former discussion by an hon. Gentleman who sits opposite. I ask the House, is a woman who stands from morning to night, 15, 16, 17, or 18 hours a day, before a wash-tub, in an insanitary atmosphere, exposed in some cases to the rain, in others to a stifling and asphyxiating atmosphere, any better than a slave? We cannot suppose that women earn their bread in this way because they like it; they have to turn to employment such as this, or to seek more dishonourable and degrading employment. I ask the House to add one link more to the chain of which the commencement was formed in 1802, when, to the credit of this nation, we first interfered between the greed of employers and the helplessness of the employed. For the last 15 years we have been doing nothing but limit the hours of women and children. Have we thereby reduced our standard of comfort, or rendered our population less self-reliant, less thrifty, and less hardworking than it was before? Has there ever been, on any single occasion, a considerable body of working-class opposition to the passing of Factory Act after Factory Act, beginning with that of 1802, and ending with this Bill? Many of the arguments adduced by the Home Secretary, in reference to the special character of this employment, were exceedingly fallacious in their character. When the first Factory Acts were passed every industry was always called a special industry. At that time it was not the Conservative Party who opposed such Acts. They pressed then forward, in order to pay themselves for the hypothetical damage they received from free trade. If it be a fact that the laundry industry is a special one to which legis- lation of this character cannot apply, how is it that curtain cleaners and dyers, the conditions of whose labour are very similar to those of laundry work, come under the provisions of this Bill? The House will do a great wrong to a large class of women if it refuses to pass this Amendment. I know it is easy to make light of demonstrations in Hyde Park, but I think any unprejudiced Member who had seen the component items of the laundry women's demonstration—the forlorn, draggle-tailed creatures who attended it, the impossible rusty crape bonnets and the dejected looks—could not possibly have failed to be moved by it. The whole spectacle was a pathetic one, and I only wish every Member of the House had been present to witness it. It is more than anything because I attended that meeting and spoke to those women, whom many Members seem to consider the subject rather for ridicule than sympathy—[Cries of "No!"]—that I earnestly ask the House not to go back upon the beneficial course of legislation which has placed England in the proudest place in the world, which was inaugurated by the Party opposite, which has been a blessing to countless thousands, and which is looked upon by millions of the working classes as their charter of freedom.

(7.12.) MR. KELLY (Camberwell, N.)

I have been at some pains to ascertain the facts relating to laundries, and I have no hesitation in saying that the only laundries in which children are employed are steam laundries. The work in cottage laundries is of a class that no child could do. At one steam laundry I visited yesterday I found that there was one child of 13 years of age at work. She had been there 10 days. So far as I know, it is not true that thousands of children are exposed to dangerous machinery. We are asked to believe that the complicated provisions of the Factories Acts were explained to 67,000 uneducated people by people equally uneducated.


I never asked the House to believe anything so foolish. What I did ask the House to take on my word was that these women were asked whether they would or would not like the same protection with regard to their hours of labour as the Factories Acts afforded to people in other employments, and their answer was "Yes."


They told me that the inquiry made of them was "whether they would like shorter hours and better wages." It is true they said "Yes." They told me they knew nothing about the Factories Acts, but they were promised that if they declared themselves in favour of the application of the Factories Acts to laundries it meant shorter hours and better wages. Reference has been made to the Petition presented to the House. I have had too much to do with Petitions not to know how easy it is to get people to sign anything. The number of signatures obtained depends entirely upon what you or your canvasser choose to tell the people. The conditions of this industry are such that it is impossible to suppose the workpeople would be in favour of such a limitation of hours as that proposed by the hon. Member. I say nothing about the protection of dangerous parts of machinery. It is said that the National Laundry Association are in favour of this change, and that they number 600 members. As a fact they do not number 60, and a year ago not one of them was in favour of coming under the Factories Acts. Now all of them are in favour of it. Their representatives have told me that they are in favour of the alteration because they believe it will crush out the small laundries. An hon. Member opposite said employés in laundries work 78 hours a week. I was in several yesterday, and without the intervention of the employers, whom I did not inform of my intended visit, I made inquiries, and found the hours were eight to eight on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and the same hours on Fridays if there was work, but no work on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. That means, with two hours for meals, 10 hours a day for four days a week, or 40 hours a week. I unhesitatingly say that, in the vast majority of cases, the laundresses do not work more than 40 or 45 hours a week. If protection is necessary it should be given by saying they shall not work more than a certain number of hours a week, and not by limiting the daily hours of work. One of the women told me any of the workpeople can take a holiday whenever they please, provided they do not put the proprietors to great inconvenience. Eighty per cent. of these women are married. Four of the cases I inquired into may be taken as typical. The first was a widow with four children, and her work in the laundry was their only means of support. The second had a delicate husband, and without her earnings they must go to the workhouse. The third woman was the wife of a painter and decorator, who was out of work several months in the year. The fourth case was that of a woman whose husband was able to earn good wages, but would do no work. The people working in those laundries appear to me an exceedingly healthy body. That statement must surprise the House if they believe the information which has been given them that these people work from 16 to 18 hours a day in places at a temperature of 100deg. For my visit to the laundries I chose the hottest day in the year. I took a thermometer with me, and the hottest laundry I found was 83deg.; in most cases it was only 78deg. or 79deg. When I tell the House that the thermometer in my own dining-room registered 74deg. before I started, they will see that the conditions in which these people work are not so terrible as some hon. Members would have them believe. The point is whether laundries are to be under inspection or not. Sanitary inspection is amply provided for already, and Clause 2 of the Public Health (London) Bill proposes to make very full provision for the health of workers in such places. If the Amendment is accepted, there is not a single cottage laundry in the country where a woman is paid a shilling a day to help which will not be brought under the Factories Acts. Where you are going to get your Inspectors from I do not know. Even if you got dozens, it will take the Inspectors years to make a round of inspection. The question of the fencing of machinery does not affect the small laundries. The hon. Member for Lanark used the expression "white slaves," and we are told that the women employed in laundries are old at 30. I have seen many of those women, who appear very healthy, although much over that age. One old woman of 74 was very active at the wash-tub. Then it is said they dine amongst the steam. In the laundries which I visited there was not a single one of the women who did not go home to dinner and to tea as well. An hon. Member opposite talks of sweating, but who are the sweaters? Not the ordinary laundry man who works side by side with his family, but the proprietors of the steam laundries, who are the friends of the hon. Gentleman. I have here a letter from a man with a large family, in which he says, referring to this question— It would most certainly benefit the workpeople to a large extent, but, on the other hand, there is no doubt it would he the means of closing a very largo number of the small laundries. We can now understand why this proposal is supported by the steam laundry proprietors. If there has been all the sweating which the hon. Member opposite refers to, how does it happen that the Sweating Commission never heard a word about it? The hon. Member declared that these people work 18 hours day after day, yet despite this terrible and glaring fact not a word of it was breathed to the Sweating Commission. The truth is some of them earn 5s. a day, ironers get 15s. a week, and good washers 12s. weekly, and they only work about 44 hours a week for these sums. If hon. Members are going to make it impossible for these people to carry on their trade, they will, instead of improving their condition, be placed a great deal lower in the scale of life. Perhaps hon. Members are thinking chiefly of the steam laundry proprietors, who work all the week through. There is no difficulty with them about working on all days and every day, but that is exactly what the small laundry people cannot do. If you do as you propose you will enormously increase the trade of the steam laundries. And it is questionable whether in so doing you will increase the demand for labour, as the probability is that it will only lead to a multiplication of machinery; you will throw the work into the hands of wealthy owners; you will deprive an immense number of people of their livelihood; you will crush out labour; you will not increase wages; and you will set the laws of supply and demand at defiance by immensely overstocking the labour market. Let the House consider what is the real truth about these people. As far as I can ascertain, the working laundresses, although they would like shorter hours and better wages, are unanimously against any interference with their hours of labour, for the reason that their work is restricted to four days in the week, and unless they make overtime they cannot maintain their families. As I have already stated, there is no work for them except on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. In many cases there is no work on Friday at all, and I find that in almost every case the ironers cannot get to work before 2 o'clock on Tuesday afternoon. Again, the trade varies greatly, especially as regards private families. Many of the women have no work at all in August, September, and October, and often very little up to the spring. On the other hand, they are overwhelmed with work in May, June, and July. They want to work long in their harvest time, and why should they not be allowed to do so? Let the House say, if it likes, that there shall be no more than 54 hours' work in a week, but to tie them down to a certain number of hours every day would be taking the bread out of the mouths of thousands of the poorest, although not the least deserving, members of the community.

*(7.37.) MR. C. S. PARKER (Perth)

I desire to say a few words on the Amendment from the point of view of the dyeing and cleaning industry in my own constituency. I was surprised to hear the Home Secretary say that the Factory Acts applied only to those works which were either for making products, or things incidental to their manufacture, or for finishing goods. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the 4th schedule of the Act he will find that bleaching and dyeing works, which are not in the nature of manufacturing works, and especially job dyeing works, are included.


Bleaching and dyeing works are expressly declared to be factories, and therefore are always so; but apart from this they usually fulfil the general qualifications for a factory. Works that are for merely cleaning are not within the Act unless the goods are for sale.


Yes they are; they come under the head of job dyeing. What I want to point out is that the trade of laundries on a large scale is rapidly developing into a dyeing and cleaning trade. I have numerous instances that I could quote in support of this, but I will only give two—one in Scotland and the other in England. In Paisley the Gleniffer Laundry advertises cleaning damask, plush, skin rugs, and carpets, and so does the South Kensington Sanitary Laundry. I am in favour of bringing large laundries under this Bill, because I do not think it is fair as between trades that side by side in the same town there should be large steam laundries advertising to do exactly the same work in cleaning and dyeing as is at present done by dye works, without being under the same legislative restrictions.

*(7.40.) MR. WEBB (Waterford, W.)

So far as I know, I am the only Irish Member who has intervened in this Debate. I am as much in favour of the extension of the Factory Acts as anyone. When they were first applied to the trade in which I was engaged I resented such applications, but I quickly saw how beneficial they were to both workmen and employers. The principal argument against this Amendment is the difficulty of working it, owing to the unreasonable desire of the public to get the laundry work done quickly and at short notice. But I believe that if the law were once applied, the public would soon get into the habit of being a little more thoughtful. If the Amendment applied to England only I would certainly vote for it, but in Ireland a state of circumstances exists which very much complicates the matter. In that country a considerable amount of laundry work is done in large conventual institutions. In Cork, for example, there is the splendid Convent of the Good Shepherd, where a number of girls who are being reformed are engaged in laundry work. It is so in Dublin. I believe in other large institutions the inspection of such laundries to the extent required by this Amendment would be very much resented, and indeed it would be almost impossible to carry the inspection out. Consequently, Irish public opinion would be against the adoption of this proposal. Considering, therefore, the application of the Amendment to Ireland, I am bound to vote against it, and to exclude convents from its scope would be unfair to ordinary steam laundries. Before I sit down I should like to say I do not like to hear the word "slavery" applied to any description of work in this country; those who use it can have no knowledge of what the horrors of slavery really are.

(7.48.) CAPTAIN BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)

I should like to ask whether, if the clause is carried, the Act will apply to village laundries in which only one or two people are engaged?


I may ask whether the convent laundries in Ire-land would rank as public laundries, and be brought under the Act and subjected to inspection if the clause is carried?

(7.46.) MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)

As I understand the clause, the convent laundries would certainly be subjected to limitation with respect to hours and to the visits of Government Inspectors. Whether village laundries would come under restriction and inspection would depend upon whether anybody outside the owner's family is employed, or any person under the age of 18; in such cases there would be inspection.

(7.47.) MR. ABRAHAM (Glamorgan, Rhondda)

With regard to the argument as to conventual institutions, I do not see why Irish convents should stand in the way of the amelioration of the condition of laundresses in England. The hon. Member for Camberwell (Mr. Kelly) asks the House to accept the results of the investigation he made in two hours yesterday as disposing of that made by 12 ladies and occupying several days. The Home Secretary spoke of demonstrations being "adroitly got up;" but can he suggest that this canvass was "adroitly got up," with the record of the questions put and the answers given? What were the questions put to these women? First, would they prefer that they should not be allowed to work more than 12 hours a day, inclusive of meal times; secondly, did they think it right that dangerous machinery should be fenced round; and third, should workshops unfit to work in be done away with. The answers to these questions were in nearly every case in the affirmative. The Home Secretary's argument that irregularity in the work is necessitated by public habit is open to the answer that if the laundry managers will only send round the collecting carts towards the close of the week they will soon get the public to recognise the necessity and expediency of providing work for Monday, and thus distributing the week's work equally over the whole week. The hon. Member for Camberwell referred to the fact that many women working in these laundries have large families to support. Is not that a strong reason why their hours of labour should be limited to enable them to give some attention to their children? With all due deference to the hon. Member, I would rather accept facts collected by the lady visitors than those he has laid before us.

(7.54.)The House divided:—Ayes 90;Noes 99,—(Div. List, No. 301.) (8.3.)

*(8.37.) MR. RANDELL

In moving the next clause I have on the Paper, I have to say that a case has been abundantly made out for the retention of the certifying surgeon. This will, I think, be best shown by the fact that the proposal of the Government to abolish that official was defeated in the Grand Committee by an overwhelming majority. If the certifying surgeons are needed in factories, much more are they needed in workshops, where the conditions of labour are much less healthy. Up to 1878 workshops employing 50 hands were under the operation of the Factory Laws in respect of certificates of fitness, and I see no good reason why what existed up to 1878 should not exist now. In the Grand Committee a division was taken upon my present proposal, and it was rejected by only 12 to 11.

New Clause—

(Certifying surgeons.)

"Section twenty-seven of the principal Act, which relates to certificates of fitness, shall apply to workshops in like manner as it applies to factories,"—(Mr. Randell,)

—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."

*(8.39.) DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary found some fault with my hon. Friend for moving the last Amendment, on which he had got a pretty good beating upstairs. I think the result has proved the advantage to be derived from an occasional change of venue, because my hon. Friend has converted the defeat upstairs into something uncommonly like a victory hero. The present Amendment was defeated in the Grand Committee by only one vote. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will now accept the proposal. He has in a very loyal way accepted the retention of the factory surgeons. If it is necessary, in the interests of the children, to have the protection of the factory surgeons, I think the same thing will hold good, and in a much greater degree, with reference to the workshops. I am not myself an expert in these things, but I have the advantage of being largely in touch with the medical profession, and I have heard from factory surgeons who are largely engaged in this work the urgent necessity that exists for a provision of this kind. I am told that these workshops are often placed in localities in a bad sanitary condition on bits of ground that are damp and unsuited for ordinary occupation. The space is narrow and cramped, the rooms are crowded with machinery, and every condition which stunts the growth of a child and diminishes its longevity is often in operation in them. My medical friends tell me that children with a largo variety of disabling physical conditions, such as heart disease and diseases of the chest, after being deliberately rejected by factory surgeons, are passed on by their parents into workshops where there is no check of any kind, and are compelled to do work which may very likely interfere with their prospects of health or moderate longevity. If the factory surgeons are of any use at all it really passes my comprehension to understand why the provision respecting them should not be equally applicable to workshops as to factories. In considering the case of the factory surgeons I was very much astounded to hear that there were great employers of labour, making large profits, who felt so aggrieved at having to pay small sums of £5, £6, or £10 in producing hygienic conditions that they came to this House for relief, and I suppose we shall be told that the expense of further protecting these poor children will be so great that we shall not be able to bear it. I must say I decline to believe that any large number of employers will take this line. You must consider the responsibility of their position. They have a large number of young people who will be the men and women of the future passing through their workshops, and they must be anxious that these men and women may be healthy and efficient workpeople. It is in their interest, but mainly in the interests of the future workmen and workwomen, that I trust the House will find it possible to accept this Amendment.

(8.46.) MR. MATTHEWS

I would make an earnest appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite not to press the Amendment. I myself have practically accepted every decision of the Committee upstairs whether for or against me. The hon. Member for the Gower Division of Glamorganshire, however, persists in reproducing in the House every one of the proposals he urged with such ability, force, and zeal upon the Grand Committee. It would be impossible for the Bill to pass if the hon. Member's policy were to prevail. The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire (Dr. Farquharson), who speaks on behalf of the doctors everywhere, wishes to know what distinction is to be drawn between factories and workshops so far as the certifying surgeon is concerned. Well, I will tell the hon. Member. In factories there is necessarily machinery employed, and it is supposed that the strain on the nervous system of a young person is more severe in a place of that kind than in a workshop, and, consequently, the protection of a certificate of fitness is insisted on so far as factories are concerned. With regard to workshops, I do not know whether the hon. Member has studied the section of the Act relating to the subject. Under Section 28 there is power given to the employer, if he thinks fit, to get a certificate of fitness for the child; and there is power given to the Secretary of State in regard to every class of workshop where danger arises to young people by reason of the nature of the operations to order that a certifying surgeon shall intervene. What is now proposed is that, in the case of every workshop, the certifying surgeon shall, as it were, put his finger in the pie—that no young girl in a village shall go into the village seamstress' shop without ob- taining a certificate from a certifying surgeon at a cost of half-a-crown. Is that a reasonable suggestion? The hon. Member who moved the Amendment talked about the sanitary condition of workshops, but his clause will not deal with that matter in the least. The certificate of fitness only applies to the personal condition of the young person employed. The hon. Member would extend this condition of a medical examination to every workshop and every employment throughout the country. I really would submit to the hon. Member that this is not such a request as ought to be urged on a jaded House of Commons, after the elaborate consideration that has been given to the matter upstairs, and when our time is running short. It is desirable that we should get through the Bill without unreasonable delay, and I would earnestly appeal to the hon. Member not to press the clause.


I am certain no Member of the Committee desires to delay the passing of the Bill, but that all are anxious that it should pass this evening. I must, however, join issue with the Home Secretary with regard to this particular Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman says the Grand Committee gave an elaborate examination to the proposal, but if he will carry his recollection back to what occurred on the Grand Committee he will remember it was this: The Committee had reached its last sitting on the Bill. It met to finish off its business, and, not unnaturally, this Amendment, which was last on the Paper, was hurried through. Practically, the Amendment was not discussed at all. A Division was taken on it after five minutes' conversation; but even in that short space of time we were able to convince the Committee of the advantages of the Amendment, to the extent that we were only defeated by a majority of one. I think that workshops have been put in a much worse position all through the Bill than factories. This is another instance of the workshops being put into a disadvantageous position as compared with factories, and I do not see why, having regard to the bodily health of children under the age of 16, there should not be the same protection in the case of workshops that is given in the case of factories. I go further, and say that children in workshops require greater protection than children in factories, because, although there is machinery in factories, it does not raise the question of bodily health at all. I assert, without fear of contradiction, that our factories are much healthier than our workshops, and that the Amendment is more necessary in the case of the latter than in that of the former. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary that when he believed he was going to carry the abolition of the certifying surgeons generally, he himself put down an Amendment on the Paper declaring that a child or young person under the age of 16 should not be employed in a factory or workshop while he was, by disease or bodily infirmity, incapacitated from working daily in the time allowed by law. We agreed with that proposition, and we desire to see it carried out. We believe it can only be carried out in workshops, as it is in factories, by a certifying surgeon. We believe the present proposal a practical one.


I would remind the House that there is already in existence the fullest power for the application of the principle of this clause. The clause, however, would apply to all workshops, and these are, I may say, an unknown quantity. At present the operatives have abundant means of making their voices heard; and, more than that, the Home Secretary, where he has reason to believe that the work in the workshops is dangerous, or where special conditions prevail, has power to order the production of a surgeon's certificate. I maintain that it would be doing a dangerous thing to go beyond the discretionary power contained in the existing law.


The hon. Member is referring to the Act of 1878?


Yes. The House passed that measure to get rid of such a provision as that which the hon. Member now moves. We should not allow our sympathy with the object the hon. Member has in view to interfere with our cooler judgment in this matter.

(8.56.) MR. MUNDELLA

I am anxious that the Home Secretary should get on with his Bill, but it is difficult to pass over this proposal in silence. My hon. Friend and Colleague (Mr. Stuart Wortley) has told us that, under the Act of 1878, the Home Secretary has power to apply the Factories Acts to workshops whenever he thinks the occupation is a dangerous one; but I should like to hear of one instance in which the Home Secretary has exercised that power. It is a notorious fact that children who have been medically rejected as unfit to work in factories have straightway been sent to labour in workshops, where the conditions in regard to health are frequently very bad. The subject, no doubt, is a very large one, and I am fully alive to the fact that, as the Government oppose the clause, there can be no chance of carrying it. I trust, however, that the matter will not be allowed to sleep. If the clause is not pressed, I hope the Home Secretary will take a serious and comprehensive view of the matter, and will do something to protect the children in workshops, and to prevent the abuse to which I have referred.


It seems to me that I shall be best consulting the interests of the House if I withdraw the clause.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

*(8.59.) MR. RANDELL

I attach considerable importance to the next Amendment which stands on the Paper in ray name, and if it is resisted I shall feel inclined to take a division on it. The clause as it stands on the Paper is as follows— Every chain or rope in or about a factory or workshop moved either by mechanical power, or by hand appliance, and used in raising work-people or for lifting or moving weights, shall be periodically examined and tested by a competent person, and a report of such examination or test shall be entered in a register kept for the purpose, which shall be open to inspection by any inspector under the Act; and such report shall be signed by the person who conducted the said examination or test. I desire to amend this by adding after the word "shall" the words "once at least in every twenty-four hours," and omitting the word "periodically." I moved this Amendment in Committee, but it was not discussed. I accepted the suggestion of the Chairman to bring it up on the Report stage. As a, matter of fact, there is great carelessness in the use of chains and ropes in factories, and no sort of test and inspection is applied, and many fatal accidents have resulted. Only a few weeks back there was an instance in which a mill manager named Aspinall met a terrible death at Heywood, Lancashire. He was descending the mill hoist when the rope broke. He made an effort to jump from the cage as it was falling. His head was caught between the cage and the flooring and almost severed from the body. Many accidents thus occur from the absence of inspection. The practice is when a chain happens to be a little short another length is added, and the connection is made, not by means of a properly welded link, but by any means to hand, frequently by moans of an "S" hook, made, probably, from scrap iron, unable to bear the strain of the heavy weight to be lifted. Many eases of serious accident have come under my personal observation, and, fully impressed with the importance of this matter, I move the Amendment. We have a precedent for the proposal in the Mines Act of 1887, where there is a provision almost identical in form to my Amendment, and there, I may observe, it is applied not only to the chains used for ascending and descending the shaft, but to those used above ground and in the colliery. In like manner I hope the Amendment will be adopted here.

New Clause—

(Inspection of chains and ropes.)

"Every chain or rope in or about a factory or workshop moved cither by mechanical power or by hand appliance, and used in raising work-people or for lifting or moving weights, shall, once at least in every twenty-four hours, be examined and tested by a competent person appointed by the occupier, and a report of such examination or test shall be entered in a register kept for the purpose, which shall be open to inspection by any inspector under the Act; and such report shall be signed by the person who conducted the said examination or test,"—(Mr. David Randell,)

—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."

*(9.3.) SIR H. JAMES

I hope my hon. Friend will not think it necessary to press this Amendment, for it is one he can scarcely expect the House to accept. It would make the work of a factory almost impossible if, however many ropes and chains might be in use in a variety of ways, they should be required to be tested every 24 hours by a competent person. The object of the hon. Member is desirable we all agree, and no doubt in every mill or factory there ought to be the necessary examination, but to attempt to carry it out in this manner will be impossible. I do not think such a provision is necessary.

Question put, and negatived.


had next on the Paper the following new clause:— If the Secretary of State is satisfied that a majority of the persons employed in the United Kingdom in any trade or occupation in factories or workshops, to which this Act applies, desire that a maximum number of hours of labour per week in that trade or occupation should be fixed by law, he shall, by order made under this part of the Act, declare a maximum number of hours of labour per week for such trade or occupation.


The Amendment standing next in the name of the hon. Member is not in order.


Whilst accepting your ruling, Sir, that the Amendment is out of order, I may be allowed to say that I thought it was in order, because I find a precedent in the Mines Act, during the Debates upon which in 1887 Amendments embodying the principle of State regulation of the hours of labour of male adult workers were moved, discussed, and divided upon.

Question put, and negatived.

*(9.5.) MR. P. STANHOPE (Wednesbury)

The clause I now propose and the subsequent clauses which stand on the Paper in my name are mainly intended to be in the interest of the operatives engaged in the chain and nail trade in South Staffordshire and East Worcestershire. They were proposed in the Grand Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, who, I regret to say, is unable through illness to be present in the House to-night. I understand from my hon. Friend that the principal objection made to nearly all these proposals was that it is undesirable in a Bill of a general character to introduce regulations in regard to particular districts. I have endeavoured to avoid that objection by making these clauses general in their character. The first clause I have the honour to move is to restrict the hours of labour of women, young persons, and children, to within the hours of 6 in the morning and 6 in the evening, and, as a matter of fact, this is a rule in force in all the large factories in the country, though I quite understand that such a rule may be very inconvenient applied to domestic industries, and what may be called the season industries, in London and other largo towns, so I have excepted domestic workshops, and if words can be suggested, which will exempt certain well-defined occupations under certain conditions from the operation of the clause, it would meet my view. This is not at all a new suggestion either on the part of the operatives themselves or the officials of the Board of Trade. The Board sent down their competent and distinguished Inspector, Mr. Burnett, to the district, and he made a full and minute report upon the lamentable condition of the operatives in the trades I have mentioned, and proceeded to make certain suggestions for the amelioration of their condition, and the first of these was that there should be some restriction and regulation in regard to time, and he recommended a uniform time for starting and finishing work for young persons, children, and women, so that there might be the more efficient means of enforcing compliance with the hours of labour prescribed in the Act. The evil complained of is this. In these particular districts these unfortunate female operatives in general work by piece work, and have a large amount of work to get through in a day for they are badly paid. They work late into the night and begin again very early in the morning in order to make up their quantity of work. It is, I think, most important that under this Act the hours of work in workshops should be such as admit the visits of Inspectors to detect infraction of the regulation. I hope the Home Secretary will sec his way to favourably entertain my suggestion if he cannot accept the exact words. I am willing to accept any alteration in the clause to meet particular cases of domestic workshops in London and elsewhere, which, unquestionably, at certain seasons of the year might require to continue work somewhat later in the evening, but in the interest of operatives at large such a restriction should be introduced. It may be urged that the women operatives are not in favour of this change. I believe that has been put forward with a great deal of persistency by Gentlemen who are in favour of what I may call the unrestricted rights of women, and who dislike any interference with female labour, and I know that various meetings have been held in reference to this and other questions. But I may say upon what I consider authentic information, and I think the hon. Member for North Worcester will confirm me, that the general feeling of the operatives, though they may differ on several points, is in favour of reasonable restrictions as to hours. There was a ballot taken recently among more than 2,000 operatives engaged in the trades I refer to, and this question was put to them. Are you in favour of all women and children starting work at 6 in the morning, and stopping work at 6 in the evening? The answers were 1,900 in the affirmative, and 121 in the negative. This, I think, shows tolerably conclusively the feeling of the operatives in favour of the clause I now move.

New Clause—

(Restriction on hours of labour by women and children.)

"In any factory or workshop (other than a domestic workshop in the textile industries) subject to the provisions of the principal Act or of this Act, it shall not be lawful to employ any child, young person, or woman before the hour of six in the morning, or after the hour of six in the evening,"—(Mr. Philip Stanhope,)

—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."

(9.15.) MR. MATTHEWS

I have not discovered from the speech of the hon. Member that he is aware of the extent to which his proposal, if adopted, would interfere with female labour throughout the country. He has referred to female labour in the Cradley Heath district and the evils he there desires to meet, but in doing this he would ride roughshod over half a dozen valuable sections of the Factory Act applicable to industries all over the country. By Section 11 of the principal Act young people and women may work from 6 to 6, or from 7 to 7, and there are several other sections to which the clause of the hon. Member would apply. There are special exceptions under Section 42 of the principal Act which I need not go into. Does the hon. Member contemplate the abolition of alternatives introduced to meet the exigencies of certain industries? By Clause 13 of the present Bill I believe the particular grievance to which the hon. Member refers is met. The grievance which the hon. Member has in his mind is where, 10½ hours being the limit, four hours are allowed for meals, thus extending the time from the commencement to the end to nearly 15 hours. In such cases it is impossible for the Inspector to say whether the Act has been infringed, for he can never tell whether the four hours have been allowed or not. That grievance is met by Section 13 of the present Bill. It was considered in Committee that the 12 hours should be left as wide as possible, so that they may commence at 6, 7, 8, 9, or even 10, as the circumstances seem to require. It was considered that was for the convenience of the women themselves; some of whom find it convenient to do their domestic work in the morning, some in the evening. But the hon. Member would strike out all that by taking away the power of employing women after 6 o'clock in the evening. I cannot think he intended all the consequences his Amendment would entail, and I would direct his attention to Clause 13, which meets the particular grievance he proposes to remedy.

*(9.19.) MR. MCLAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)

I was glad to hear the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and I think he has conclusively shown my hon. Friend has no ground for his Amendment. If we were to adopt the clause in the form in which it is moved it would cause the greatest inconvenience and hardship to large numbers of women in all sorts of industries, and I do not think it would be possible to amend the clause so as to prevent this. In the factory districts in the North the hours of work are usually from 6 to 6, and this has been found to be the most convenient; but in London that is not the case. In London work begins two hours later, and ends later, and there would be no advantage in altering the hours to 6 o'clock. Generally speak- ing, I should say it is more convenient and healthy for women to begin work at 8 in the morning and leave off at 8 in the evening in London, and to introduce such a rule as this would be attended with the greatest inconvenience. I am quite convinced that the hon. Member does not intend this, he is anxious to meet the exceptional circumstances at Cradley Heath. If there is a method of meeting that case it would be well to apply it; but I doubt if it is possible to single out an industry in this way. The Bill provides that women shall not work for more than 12 consecutive hours, and if at Cradley Heath it is found convenient to begin work at 6 in the morning, then employment of women after 6 in the evening involves a penalty under the Act, and that I think is quite sufficient. I cannot think that the House would inflict such a hardship upon working women as would follow the enforcement of a rigid rule of employment from 6 to 6.


Another point seems to have escaped notice. The clause as drawn would be inoperative, for it will be observed the words are "subject to the provisions of the principal Act, or of this Act," and these provisions are inconsistent with the clause, which, therefore, would be inoperative. On the general merits of the question I think the statement of the Home Secretary is conclusive. Section 13 provides for the limitation of hours we desire, and I do not think it is expedient to introduce the limitation to particular hours as proposed.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)

had upon the Paper the following New Clause:— From and after the passing of this Act, the wages of any workman engaged by time shall be paid in full by the employer to him at least once a week. When a workman is engaged otherwise than by time, the wages earned by him shall be paid to him in full by the employer at the expiration of not more than fourteen days from the commencement of the employment, or from the last payment in full, as the case may be. If a workman who is engaged otherwise than by time gives one day's previous notice to the employer that he so requires the same, at least seventy-five per centum of the wages earned by him shall be paid to him by the employer at the expiration of not more than seven days from the commencement of the employment, or from the last payment in full, as the case may be. Every workman shall be entitled upon application at the pay office, or some convenient place, not later than the day previous to the day upon which under this Act his wages are payable, to receive from his employer a pay note showing their amount of wages earned. Such note shall be in the form as the Schedule to this Act, or in some form to the like effect.


The next Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division (Mr. Fenwick) is not in order: it is beyond the scope of the Bill.

*(9.22.) MR. P. STANHOPE

My Amendment in reference to female labour in the iron trade is an important one to the Cradley Heath district. No doubt the House is familiar with the information made public through the Report of the proceedings of the Sweating Committee of the House of Lords as to the deplorable condition of the operatives in the Cradley Heath district. I do not propose to trouble the House with a prolonged examination of the grievances complained of; but it is pertinent to remember that some of the Members of that Committee, Lord Dunraven being one, took a very strong view of the condition of things, and were anxious to introduce regulations to mitigate the horrors disclosed. It is probably known to the House, and if it is not I may mention it, that two or three years ago when the subject was brought into public notice the position of the operatives was so lamentable that a woman could only earn 5s. or 6s. a week by working long hours, providing herself with the implements necessary for manufacture. I am glad to say that since public attention was directed to the subject, the efforts of the Trades' Union in the district have largely improved the condition of the operatives, and I believe it is perfectly true to say that wages have been generally doubled for the same amount of work, and so far there has been a very material improvement. But there is one point to which my clause is directed, the heavy nature of the work in which women and young persons are engaged, work which, as Mr. Burnett in his Report to the Board of Trade said, is totally unfit for women. When the Sweating Committee inquired into the condition of the workers at Cradley Heath, evidence was given that the use of the "Oliver," a kind of sledge hammer worked by a treadle and used for cutting the larger sizes of cold iron, is totally unsuited for women. By limiting the sizes of iron to be worked by women the use of the heavy "Oliver" by them will be obviated, and this is the object of my Amendment. There is among the operatives themselves some little difference of opinion as to the exact size of iron which should be permitted to be worked, and I think my hon. Friend the Member for North Worcester holds that instead of 9–32nds, as proposed in my clause, the bars for the nail and chain trade should be 11–32nds, and for nails, spikes, and rivets, bars of 3–8ths of an inch instead of 5–16ths. He may or may not be right, and I am perfectly ready to consider any modification of the proposal I make. I am satisfied that some restriction is necessary, and I have, I think, put my proposal in such a form that it will not only be applicable to the districts of East Worcestershire and South Staffordshire, which I have more particularly in mind, but to the chain and nail industries in all parts of the kingdom. This clause was moved in Grand Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, and received a sufficient amount of sympathy and support to justify me in raising the question again at this stage. My proposal has the support of the operatives themselves, and there can be no question that the labour is unsuited to women, that it should be discontinued, or only carried on under conditions not injurious to the health of the women engaged in it.

New Clause—

(Female labour on Iron.)

"It shall not be lawful for any female working in the wrought nail and small chain trades to cut or work bars or rods of iron which exceed in diameter nine thirty-seconds of an inch, or, for the purpose of making nails, spikes, or rivets, to cut or work bars or rods of iron which exceed in diameter five-eights of an inch, and, in the event of any contravention of this clause, the occupier of the workshop in which such contravention takes place shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding five pounds," (Mr. Philip Stanhope,)

—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."

*(9.30.) MR. HINGLEY (Worcestershire, N.)

I feel a special interest in this matter, and I am entirely in accord with the remarks of my hon. Friend as to the necessity for some limitation. I can also say that the opinion among the women of Cradley Heath is in favour of this proposal. I was somewhat surprised at the position taken up by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in the Grand Committee. I was present when a deputation waited on him asking him to oppose the Bill introduced by Lord Thring in another place. The whole evidence then laid before the right hon. Gentleman was in favour of some restrictions, but against the particular clause. I know there are a number of ladies who are not acquainted with this work, and who object to the limitation of female labour in any way; but the operatives in the district are strongly in favour of some limitation. I would suggest that the sizes should be eleven thirty-seconds for chains and three-eighths of an inch for nails, and I believe that a clause with these limitations would be acceptable, and would be a boon to the whole of the operatives in the district. The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. P. Stanhope) spoke about the "horrors" of this trade. There have been gross exaggerations on this point. Hardships there may be, but as to "horrors" there is nothing of the kind.


I readily accept the alteration of the clause suggested by the hon. Member.

(9.33.) MR. MATTHEWS

The operatives distinctly asserted that there was nothing in the work that was the least oppressive, and they objected in the strongest manner to any limitation whatever, which they said they would resent as tyranny. They declared that they were quite able to take care of themselves, and that they never undertook any work they were not able to perform. It is clear also that there is very great difficulty in fixing any limit that will be acceptable. The hon. Gentleman himself seems to have felt that difficulty, because he has altered his clause no less than three times. As it was originally worded it would have put an end to the whole of the work done by these women. Much of the work now done by them is of a size greater than eight-thirty-seconds.


The great bulk of work done by the women is in sizes which are nothing like that. It is mostly wire iron.


Certainly, but nine thirty-seconds work is commonly done by these women. I cannot lose sight of the fact that the Royal Commission of 1876 considered this very subject, and said they were unable to suggest a limit, and would sooner trust to the good sense of the workers to refuse work which was too laborious for them. I quite feel the value of the great experience of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Hingley), but I am a little doubtful whether he has fixed his limit high enough. Clause 8 of the Bill empowers anybody who complains to come to the Secretary of State, who can impose requirements on the employer, and if the latter does not consent an arbitration will take place. I would suggest an half-inch limit. This would cover the cases that occur in practice.


I have been very glad to hear the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, for I feel sure he is disposed to meet us in this matter. It has been clearly shown by the evidence that this work is injurious to health, but it is obvious that the real way to get out of the difficulty is not by legislating on the weight of chains, but by going to the root of the matter and attacking the hours. I shall, however, support the Amendment.


I hope the Mover of this Amendment will not press it. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, and his reference to Clause 8, shows that the Bill is amply sufficient to meet any grievance that exists, and no doubt the Home Secretary will administer Clause 8 so as to meet the case. It is obvious that if you are to prevent women from working at a particular trade at which they are working now you will drive them to further competition with each other and also with men. My hon. Friend in moving his Amendment referred to the ex- cessively low wages these women have earned in the past and are earning at present. Is it not plain that if you turn a number of them out of employment, as you will by this clause, you will reduce the wages in that portion of employment that is open to them? It seems very sad that the House of Commons should be asked to pass a clause which would have such an effect. We wish to raise female wages, but that cannot be done by closing one door after another against women. If female operatives have a very strong objection to this class of employment, I am convinced they will give it up of their own accord. To draw fine distinctions which the House cannot possibly understand is to introduce a mischievous system of legislation, and, in my opinion, it is altogether wrong to close any occupation to women which they are successfully carrying on at the present time.

(9.43.) The House divided:—Ayes 64; Noes 87.—(Div. List, No. 302.)

*(9.52.) MR. WEBB

I do not intend to occupy the House many moments in moving the new clause which stands in my name. I think it is very hard that employers should be called upon to pay these charges. If there was a fixed charge in all instances, there would not be much objection, but we know that often an arrangement is made. I know of a case where a surgeon was paid five times as much by one person as by another for doing the same kind of work. I do not think that is well, because no matter how respectable surgeons may be, there is a great temptation in such a case. I think it is unfair that the amount of payment by the employer should depend upon where the surgeon sees fit to live. In the City of Dublin the surgeon lives on the south side, and the consequence is that the employers on the north side are liable to an additional payment. If the surgeon went to live on the north side of the city the fees paid by the employers there would be reduced, while those paid by the employers on the south side would be increased. The surgeon might take it into his head to live at Kingstown, in which case he would charge something like 3s. for each person examined in Dublin.

New Clause—

(Amendment of s. 74 of principal Act.) "In section seventy-four of the principal Act, leave out,—

"When the examination is at a factory or workshop not exceeding one mile from the surgeon's residence. Two shillings and sixpence for each visit, and sixpence for each person after the first five examined at that visit.
When the examination is at a factory or workshop more than one mile from the surgeon's residence. The above fees, and an additional sixpence for each complete half mile over and above the mile."
and insert—
"When the examination is at a factory or workshop Two shillings and sixpence for each visit, and sixpence for each person after the first five examined at that visit."

—(Mr. Webb,)—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."


I cannot accept this clause. The factory surgeon is entitled to live where he likes; and if he has to travel three, four, or five miles to a factory he must be allowed higher fees than if he goes to a factory next door.

Question put, and negatived.

(9.57.) MR. WEBB

I now beg to move the next clause standing in my name. I think it is only right that power should be given, especially in cases where women have to be examined, to appoint female Inspectors.

New Clause—

(Expression "Inspector" means a male or female Inspector.)

"In the principal Act and in this Act the expression 'Inspector' means a male or female Inspector; and pronouns in the masculine referring to Inspectors mean also the feminine,"—(Mr. Webb,)

—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."—(Mr. Webb.)


This is really quite unnecessary, because by a previous Act words referring to the masculine include the feminine.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.


I have now to move to leave out Subsection (1) in Clause 3. I make this Motion simply by way of protest. While this is a very beneficent measure in regard to our great factories, I believe that in consequence of the rejection of most of the Amendments we introduced in Committee, by handing over our workshops to the tender mercies of the Local Authorities, and taking them out of the hands of Her Majesty's Inspectors, we are placing the workshops in a worse position than they were in before. Against that I desire to enter my emphatic protest. I can only regret that all the evidence given before the Lords' Commitee with regard to sweating has been put aside by the Home Secretary and the Government, who have not touched the fringe of the question. The person of all others who will be pleased with this Bill will be the sweater. I believe that he felt that he was going to be seriously injured, but that now he feels he will in future be in a better position. It is perfectly true that the Home Secretary said that he and his colleagues were going to deal with the question of local sanitation in the Public Health Bill for Loudon; but I have studied that Bill carefully, and I do not find anything in it that will improve the sanitary condition of workshops. It is opposed by Conservative Members for London, and if passed as it stands it will be quite useless for the purpose of placing these workshops in a proper sanitary condition. I deeply regret that this great opportunity for dealing with some of the evils of the sweating system has been neglected by Her Majesty's Government, and I fear that this sub-section will leave the question of workshops in a worse position than before.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, to leave out Sub-section (1) of Clause 3.—(Mr. Sydney Buxton.)

Question proposed, "That Sub-section (1) of Clause 3 stand part of the Bill."

(10.1.) MR. MATTHEWS

The hon. Member is always a decided opponent, and is generally very candid in his attacks, but on this occasion I do not think he has been altogether candid in his statement. To say that we are handing over the workshops to the Local Sanitary Authority without redress and without any check is to make a totally inaccurate statement. The Public Health Act enables the County Council to go to the Local Sanitary Authority, and enables the Local Government Board to require the Local Authority to take action; and not only so, but Clause 1 of this Bill places in the hands of the Secretary of State an arbitrary and despotic power to turn on the Factory Inspectors at any moment against the workshops. I knew the hon. Member was going to bring up this subject, and therefore I brought down Papers showing the results of an experiment I made in advance, and without the powers to be conferred by this Bill. I caused my Factory Inspectors, with the limited powers they now have, to go to the tailors' shops in the East End, where the sweating is worst, and make a thorough house-to-house visitation, and to redress whatever was amiss by complaint to the Local Authority. They dealt in that way with 511 workshops. They found a great many of them deficient in respect of ventilation, of cubic space, of whitewashing, and cleanliness. These defects were represented to the Local Authority, and the effect of the visitation, though it was purely voluntary action, the Home Office not being armed with statutory powers, was, that the Local Authority set to work, and upon a second visitation on the 16th of this month the Inspectors found that the number of cases in which a remedy had not been applied was extraordinarily small. Out of 34 cases of faulty ventilation only three remained inefficient, and out of 44 cases in respect of cubic space only 13 remained insufficient. Therefore, the greatest possible effect has been produced by voluntary inspection. Clause 1 of the Bill provides a perfectly effectual remedy, an occasional not a constant remedy, it is true, because I have not the staff, but effectual, as the result of my experiment shows.

MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)

I have only to say that if the right hon. Gentleman will take the course under the Bill that he has taken in anticipation of it we shall all be perfectly satisfied.

Question put and agreed to

Amendments proposed, in Clause 4, page 2, line 29, after "drain," insert "water closet, earth closet;" Clause 5, page 3, lines 4 and 5, leave out the word, "urinal" and insert "water closet, earth closet, privy, urinal."—(Mr. Matthews.)

Amendments agreed to.

(10.6.) MR. MATTHEWS

The series of Amendments to Clause 7 requires some explanation. This clause originally required the occupier to make the necessary structural alterations which should protect the employers in case of fire. In Grand Committee the majority of Members, against ray own view, carried an Amendment substituting "owner" for "occupier." But then the clause is left in this ridiculous condition, that it provides that the owner shall be served with a notice to carry out measures to provide the means of escape in case of fire; while if these measures are not carried out in conformity with the Act the occupier is liable to a penalty—the duty falls on the owner, the penalty falls on the occupier. All I wish to do is to carry out the intention of the Committee, although. I disagree with it. In the first place, there is some difficulty in defining the owner. There is a definition in the Public Health Act cognate to this subject, which I think may well be adopted, and, therefore, I propose to add the words— The person being owner within the meaning of the Public Health Act, 1875, upon whom the notice is to be served. Then it is necessary to give the owner the power to make the alterations required, else he may find himself powerless to do what he desires to do, the occupier insisting upon his rights under agreement as occupier, and refusing to allow the owner to enter upon the premises for the purpose. My next Amendment, therefore, provides that the owner shall have power to take the necessary steps to comply with the requirements. Then I provide that the penalty for noncompliance shall fall by fine upon the owner, and, lastly, comes the provision. I think it is only equitable that if a question of cost of alterations arises between owner and occupier then the owner shall have the question settled before a County Court Judge. I have gone a little beyond the Amendment in Committee on this point, but I think it is only reasonable that the owner should have this means of settling any question of the kind.

Amendment proposed, in Clause 7, page 3, line 33, after "serve on," to insert" the person being within the meaning of the Public Health Act, 1875."—(Mr. Matthews.)

(10.10.) MR. HOWELL

I think the right hon. Gentleman has carried out the intention of the Committee. That intention was that the person in temporary occupation should not be placed in a very awkward position in regard to premises over which he may have a very limited control. I think the Amendment thoroughly carries out the intention of the Committee.

Amendment agreed to. Amendments proposed, in Clause 7, page 3, line 36, after "date," insert" and thereupon the owner shall, notwithstanding any agreement with the occupier, have power to take such steps as are necessary for complying with the requirements"; Clause 7, page 3, lines 37 and 38, leave out "the factory shall be deemed not to be kept in conformity with the principal Act," and insert "such owner shall be liable to a fine not exceeding one pound for every day that such noncompliance continues; Clause 7, page 4, line 2, after "other," insert "and the award on the arbitration shall be binding on the parties thereto. If the owner alleges that the occupier of the factory ought to bear or contribute to the expenses of complying with the requirement, he may apply to the county court having jurisdiction where the factory is situate, and thereupon the county court, after hearing the occupier, may make such order as appears to the court just and equitable under all the circumstances of the case."—(Mr. Matthews.)

Amendments agreed to.

*(10.12.) MR. P. STANHOPE

Before the right hon. Gentleman proceeds with his Amendments to Clause 8, there is a suggestion I have to make, and which I hope he will accept, for I think he himself indicated something in the same direction when I proposed the clause having relation to the work at Cradley Heath. I do not think the word "process" quite meets the case as a description of the work I referred to, and therefore I suggest that in line 18 the words should be added "or particular description of manual labour."

Amendment proposed, in Clause 8, page 4, line 18, after "process," insert "or particular description of manual labour."—(Mr. P. Stanhope.)

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment proposed, in Clause 8, page 4, line 20, before "is dangerous," insert "or that the amount of dust generated and inhaled in a factory."—(Mr. Matthews.)


This is similar to an Amendment of which I have given notice, with the difference that the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman leaves out workshops and is confined to factories. In Committee a clause was brought up specially dealing with the subject of dust, and then the offer was made by the right hon. Gentleman to deal with the subject by amendment to Clause 8. For my own part, I certainly understood, and I think that it was generally understood, that the prohibition was to refer to workshops as well as factories.


With the leave of the House I will amend the Amendment by adding the words "or workshop."


I prefer the Amendment in line 23, of which I have given notice, for then you get rid of the solecism that the dust generated or inhaled would be injurious to "life or limb."

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, in Clause 8, page 4, line 23, after "sufficient," insert "or that the quantity of dust generated in any factory or workshop is dangerous or injurious to health."—(Sir Henry James.)

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment proposed, in Clause 8, page 4, line 23, leave out from "or that," to "insufficient," inclusive, in line 24.—(Mr. Matthews)

Amendment agreed to.

*(10.19.) MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)

The Amendment I have to propose was, I believe, discussed in Committee, but I was not a Member of the Committee, and I do not know whether Members of the Committee were aware of the position of things in Sheffield, and no doubt elsewhere, by which occupiers in a building have no control over the shafting going from one part of a building to another part of the same building. It is such a case I desire to meet by my Amendment, but I do not know whether the case was put forward in the Committee as of that importance which hon. Members who represent Sheffield well know it to be. Two children were killed some time ago by some shafting between two rooms occupied by different people; the shafting belonged to the owner, but he could not be made responsible.

Amendment proposed, in Clause 8, page 4, line 25, after "occupier," insert "owner or agent."—(Mr. H. J. Wilson.)


I cannot quite follow the hon. Gentleman. We proceed on the assumption that the working of a factory or workshop is the act of the occupier, and of the occupier alone; the owner has nothing to do with the dust created or the machinery used. I think the hon. Gentleman has borrowed these words from the Coal Mines Act, where they have a totally different application. Only the occupier can be liable for the conduct of a manufactory; none of the processes are under the control of the owner.


The owner supplies the power.


The occupier must be responsible for the work done for his own benefit, under his own direction and in his own factory.

*MR. J. A. BRIGHT (Birmingham, Central)

In many cases the owner of a factory supplies the motive power at so much a week per horse power, and that is the case to which the hon. Gentleman refers in this Amendment.

(10.22.) MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)

In such a case the person to whom the machinery belongs is the person who is to be served with notice under this clause.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment proposed, In Clause 8, page 5, at end, add "(8) For the purposes of the principal Act and this Act the expression 'machinery' shall include any driving strap or hand, and the expression 'process' shall include the use of any locomotive."—(Mr. Matthews.)

Amendment agreed to.

Amandment proposed, in page 6, to leave out Clause 14.—(Mr. Matthews.)


May I ask what is the reason for omitting the clause?


Simply, it is unnecessary. Clause 14 requires in effect that notice of meal times shall be given when different hours are required under special circumstances; but this clause is totally unnecessary, inasmuch as under Section 66 of the principal Act such notice is already required.

Amendment agreed to.

Other Amendments agreed to.

*(10.30.) MR. P. STANHOPE

I now beg to move the Amendment of which I have given notice. Its operation is confined to one particular branch of one particular industry. The clause says— Every person who is engaged as a weaver in the cotton, worsted, or woollen, or linen trade, or as a winder, weaver, or reeler, in the cotton trade, and is paid by the piece in, or in connection with, any factory or workshop, shall have supplied to him with his work sufficient particulars to enable him to ascertain the rate of wages at which he is entitled to be paid for the work. The people mentioned here are the only people affected, yet the principle is one which, it seems to me, ought to be applied to the operatives of all trades. There is no reason why that which is sauce for the right hon. Gentleman's goose should not be sauce for my gander. I think that the principle which the Government have accepted in the interest of the town of Bury should be accepted in the interest of all towns. My clause simply provides that everyone engaged by the piece shall, at the termination of every week, have given to him on application a note stating the amount of work done by him during the preceding week, and the rate at which the work is to be paid. These industries, such as the chain makers, in which the reckoning between the employer and the employed is only once a month, and that leads to all kinds of disagreement. The operatives, if they feel aggrieved, are not in a position to take proceedings against the employer. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept this Amendment, which extends the advantages of his own measure to other operatives besides the constituents of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury.

Amendment proposed, In Clause 25, page 9, line 5, to leave out all after "engaged," and insert "as an operative, and is paid by the piece, in or in connection with any factory or workshop, shall be entitled to receive, upon application to his employer, a ticket or note stating the amount of work done by such person during the preceding week, the amount of money payable for the same, and any deductions made by the employer, and the net amount to which such person may be entitled, together with the amount of any other money previously due and then owing to such person from the employer, and any employer refusing when reasonably required to give such ticket or note, or entering upon such ticket or note false and inaccurate figures, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding £5."—(Mr. Philip Stanhope.)

(10.36.) SIR H. JAMES

The hon. Member has entirely misunderstood the 25th clause of the Bill. That clause deals with the particulars of work when it is given out, whereas this refers to work when it is completed. If the hon. Member will make a separate clause of his proposal we can discuss it, but it would be very inconsistent to strike my clause out in order to insert this.


I wish to endorse what the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has said. This question has been settled in connection with the textile trades by the most careful and anxious negotiations between the employers on the one side and the operatives on the other, and I hope the controversy will not be reopened to-night.


I hope the hon. Member will not persist with his Amendment. Clause 25 refers to all the textile industries, and not to one particular trade.


I will move my Amendment as an addition to the clause of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, in Clause 25, page 9, line 6, after "linen," insert "or jute."—(Mr. Edmund Robertson.)

Amendment agreed to.

(10.39.) MR. PROVAND

I beg to move, in Clause 9, which provides that particulars shall be supplied in case of payment by piece to the operative, to add "on personal application." The object of the clause is to prevent workmen who have to do a certain class of work from being defrauded by their employers. Fraud of this kind has occurred in Lancashire near Padiham. When the work came to be measured up as against the employer it was found that in some hundreds of pieces the measurement was half a yard against the operative in each piece. Well, I hold that fraud of that kind can be punished by the law as it stands. During the past 20 years a fancy cotton trade has grown up in Lancashire, which owes its success to the skill and inventive genius of the workmen, and I hold that to require the particulars of such work to be given out would be to open the door to other manufacturers to appropriate the designs. There is another class of manufacturer who, being himself a foreigner, frequently has his emissaries in this country, and may get a workman into a factory for the express purpose of copying designs. If there are manufacturers who have defrauded the men, there are also men who have defrauded the manufacturers. If this Amendment is agreed to the manufacturer will have the opportunity of testing the bona fides of his workmen. Apart from the manufacturers, the merchants are entitled to be heard on this subject. There are many merchants in Lancashire who get designs of their own, and the enterprising merchant who perhaps does so at great expense is at the mercy of a workman who may sell the design for half-a-crown. I have not the slightest intentention of doing anything which will prevent a workman getting all the information he really requires and seeing what he has earned, but the particulars provided for in this clause go beyond what a man needs to know for that purpose.

Amendment proposed, in Clause 25, page 9, line 8, after "three," to insert "on personal application."—(Mr. Provand.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

(10.44.) SIR H JAMES

Whilst the hon. Member's Amendment is merely to insert these words, his speech was a speech against the clause. If the hon. Member had dealt frankly with the House he would have moved the omission of the clause. In the Bill I intro- duced some time ago there was a clause which provided for the giving of very full particulars. The manufacturers objected, and I then inserted these words. This is a very simple demand. It is no slur on the employer that he should have to tell his workmen how much he is to be paid. If any hon. Member went into a bank and asked for change, could any objection be taken to his counting the change? If my memory serves me rightly, there was no Division in the Committtee on this clause at all. I would as soon see the clause struck out of the Bill as see these words inserted. If these particulars are to be given only to the operative who asks for them, every operative who does so will think he will suffer; 99 out of every 100 employers would not allow any man to suffer for asking for these particulars, but the hundredth might. At any rate, a man would fear the consequences. The proposal of the hon. Member would not prevent fraud if a workman wished to commit it. The clause is one on which, I believe, the operatives in the textile trade set the greateat store, and I hope the House will not insert the modification proposed by the hon. Member.


I beg to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

*(10.47.) SIR H. JAMES

I move the Amendment which stands next on the Paper in my name. I have inserted the words "unless he has given the best information in his power with respect to such particulars" at the request of an employer of labour, on whom I knew I could rely, and who pointed out to me that there was a particular trade in which the employers could not give the information specified in the clause. I consulted those who possessed technical knowledge, and they told me that such was the case. I therefore propose that no employer shall be penalised by reason of his not having given particulars which he cannot give. I make the proposal solely in the interest of employers, and if employers do not care to have the words inserted I am quite willing to withdraw them, though I can assure them that if the words are struck out they will be depriving themselves of a safeguard.

Amendment proposed, In Clause 25, page 9, line 10, to insert "And the occupier of the factory or workshop shall supply him with such particulars accordingly. If the occupier of any factory or workshop fails to supply such particulars then, unless he proves that he has given the best information in his power with respect to such particulars, he shall be liable for each offence to a fine not exceeding £10, and in the case of a second or subsequent conviction for the same offence within two years from the last conviction for that offence not less than £1."—(Sir H. James.)

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

(10.50.) MR. ADDISON (Ashton-under-Lyne)

I have to move the addition to the clause of words which I believe have been agreed to by both employers and employed, and they will effect the settlement of the controversy which has been alluded to by the hon. Member opposite.

Amendment proposed, After the foregoing Amendment, to insert the words "Provided always that in the event of anyone who is engaged as an operative in any factory or workshop receiving such particulars, he shall, if he discloses the same with a fraudulent object or for the purpose of gain, whether the information has been furnished to him or to a fellow employee, be liable for each offence to a fine not exceeding ten pounds."—(Mr. Addison.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


This seems to me a very ambiguous proposal. I am at a loss to draw a distinction between "fraud" and purposes of gain. I would ask the hon. and learned Member to make it clear to my comprehension and that of other hon. Members what the distinction is.


If a workman becomes possessed of one of his master's secrets and he divulged it in an idle conversation or gossip to another workman, it would be hard to make him responsible. But if a workman discloses a secret for the purpose of gain, it may be to some other employer, clearly he should be liable to a penalty,


It seems to me a distinction without a difference. The effect of the Amendment will be to place on the Penal Code of the country a now offence, therefore I hope the House will not agree to the proposal.


I can assure the House that those who represent the operatives have no objection to this addition to the clause, but I would like a similar penalty to attach to the persons who bribe operatives to get the information.

(10.55.) MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)

There is one reason which appears to me conclusive why we should not deal with this clause now. It proposes to create a new offence—that of a workman divulging these particulars. Well, I think that before dealing with a matter so serious we ought at least to have the clause in black and white, and at present it is only in MS. From what I have been able to gather, it seems to me that it would be a welcome clause, but I think it would be well to allow it to be brought up in another place.


As to making a new crime, that is the whole object of the clause. There is a penalty on the labourer in the first part of the clause, and this is only a corelative proposal placing a penalty on the employer. But the proposal has not been put on the Paper, and we have had no opportunity of considering it. I think that opportunity should be given us before we are asked to take such an important step as this.


I quite follow the reasoning of hon. Members. The Amendment has not been put on the Notice Paper, therefore I ask leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Have we now arrived at the point where it would be convenient for me to move my Amendment as an addition to the clause?


It seems to me that this proposal has no bearing on the subject of the clause, and should, therefore, be moved as a separate provision.


The hon. Member might move it as a proviso.


I will do so.

Amendment proposed, after the words last inserted to insert the words— Provided always any operative who is paid by piece, in or in connection with any factory or workshop, shall be entitled to receive, upon application to his employer, a ticket or note stating the amount of work done by such person during the preceding week, the amount of money pay- able for the same, and any deductions made by the employer, and the net amount to which such person may be entitled, together with the amount of any other money previously due and then owing to such person from the employer, and any employer refusing when reasonably required to give such ticket or note, or entering upon such ticket or note false and inaccurate figures, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding five pounds."—(Mr. P. Stanhope.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

*(11.5.) MR. F. S. POWELL

I do not think that the words of the hon. Member will carry out his intention, and I would suggest that he add the words "and in other trades."

MR. OLDROYD (Dewsbury)

I hope my hon. Friend will not press his Amendment, for in a large number of cases the employers could not give the particulars which it requires. Until a piece of work is completed, and the fabric removed from the loom, it is impossible to estimate what is due to the operative or what is to be deducted for unsatisfactory work.


This Bill proposes to deal with the textile industries in a particular way, and I think it would be much better not to extend the clause to other trades, for which no necessity has been shown.


I am bound to say that this clause would operate injuriously against the working classes, for if a workman were to make such a demand as is proposed by the Amendment he would be a marked man.

*MR. W. MATHER (Lancashire, S.E., Gorton)

I would point out that operatives are often engaged in mechanical work which requires weeks for its completion. The weekly wages are paid, and at the end of the month the balance is struck of what is due to the workman on piecework, and he is paid. That plan works satisfactorily, and the Amendment, if carried, would interfere with it to no advantage.


Does the hon. Member withdraw his Amendment?


I will leave it to be inserted in another place.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, in page 9, line 30, to leave out the word "directly."—(Mr. Sydney Buxton.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'directly' stand part of the Bill."

Amendment, by leave, withdsawn.


I beg to move in Clause 29 to add the word "workshops." At the Berlin Conference I should think the word workshops was left out by some oversight, and there seems no valid reason why they should not be included.

Amendment proposed, in page 9, line 40, after the word "factory," to insert the words "or workshop."—(Mr. Sydney Buxton.)

Question proposed, "That the words 'or workshop' be there inserted."


It is very unwise to concede anything to the hon. Member, for when he is given an inch he is always for extorting the consequent ell. The whole system of minimum fines is faulty, and to apply the system to all workshops would be to do one of the most anomalous and unjustifiable things you could think of.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

*THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR SCOTLAND (Sir C. J. PEARSON,) Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities

I have now to propose the following Amendment:— The expression Public Health Act, 1875, where it occurs in Section 7 of this Act, shall mean the Public Health (Scotland) Act, 1876, and the Acts amending the same. At present there is some doubt as to the definition of the owner of a factory. One of the Amendments accepted brings in the definition as it stood in the Public Health Act, 1875. That Act does not apply to Scotland, and the object of my Amendment is to substitute the Scottish Public Health Act, so as to import its definition of "owner" into this Act so far as it applies to Scotland.

Amendment agreed to.

MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)

I beg to move the omission of Sub-section 3 so as to put myself in order. I wish to ask whether there is provision made in respect to factories situated outside of burghs?

Amendment proposed, in page 10 line 31, to leave out Sub-section 3 of Clause 34.—(Mr Esslemont.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."


There is no proviso in the sub-section which touches factories not situated in a burgh, the reason being that this is an Amendment of the Act of 1888, which also did not touch factories situated in the country or elsewhere than in a burgh. These factories are still regulated by the Act of 1878.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made.

Amendment proposed, In page 11, line 8, after the word "fixed," to insert the words,—"Provided that it shall be competent for such magistrates or police Commissioners to assign a different holiday for any particular trade or factory within their jurisdiction, if satisfied that the interests of all concerned in such trade or factory make it desirable at any time to do so."—(The Lord Advocate.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

*(11.30.) MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, E.)

I think the House is entitled to hear grounds for such a proposal as this. A similar Amendment was proposed in Committee, it was resisted by the Homo Secretary, and the arguments by which he opposed it hold equally against the present proposal. No practical grievance has yet arisen. Even if this Amendment is accepted, I think there is a serious omission in it. You do not provide for the giving of public notice of the cases in which these exceptions are to be made. The Amendment brought before the Standing Committee contained such a provision, and if the right hon. Gentleman does not satisfy me on that point I shall, if this Amendment now before us is carried, propose words to secure the giving of such notice.

*(11.34.) MR. C. S. PARKER

I think my hon. Friend will find at the end of the clause words which require public notice to be given. I am sorry he is opposing this Amendment, for it only extends the power of the Magistrates to choose the most convenient days. The real reason for the Amendment is this. A somewhat difficult task is imposed on the Local Authorities in finding days suitable to all parties. They have to study the interests of shopkeepers and of school children, as well as of factories, and this Amendment will merely enable them, in case of need, to give to each the day most convenient for them.

Question put, and negatived.

Amendment proposed, in Clause 34, page 11, line 11, before "and," insert "upon the petition of any party interested."—(Mr. J. P. B. Robertson.)


Surely this is not necessary. [Cries of "Divide!"] This is the first occasion on which it has been possible for this House to consider any question affecting the Scotch working class population, and I think we have a claim to be heard on the subject. I think we ought to get a statement from the Government of what is implied in the words it is proposed to insert.


The words are inserted merely to economise the time of the public officials engaged in this inquiry. I am sure the hon. Member would not desire that the Sheriff should be obliged to abandon other public duties in order to hold an inquiry which might be superfluous, for instance in the most plain sailing cases. If there are people who desire to put the Sheriff in motion, well and good, the inquiry must be held; but these words will do away with unnecessary inquiries.

Amendment agreed to.

Other Amendments agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time. "—(Mr. Matthews.)

(11.41.) MR. MUNDELLA

I do not rise to oppose the Third Reading; but I wish to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman on the question of the education of half-timers. Under the Act of 1878 the Homo Secretary has power to fix the standard for half-timers. I believe the Fourth Standard was fixed upon in 1874, and that it has not since been altered. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider whether the time has not come for raising the standard from the fourth to the fifth.


The suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman is worthy of consideration, and I will go into the matter with my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council.


I may state that the fifth has been the standard in Scot-land for 20 years.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the third time, and passed.