HC Deb 03 July 1895 vol 35 cc143-7

"For Section thirty-one of the principal Act the following section shall be substituted, namely,—

  1. (1.) Where there occurs in a factory or workshop any accident which either—
    1. (a) causes loss of life to a person employed in the factory or in the workshop; or
    2. (b) causes to any person employed in the factory or workshop such bodily injury as to prevent him on any one of the three working days next after the occurrence of the accident from being employed for five hours on his ordinary work,
    written notice shall forthwith be sent to the inspector for the district.
  2. (2.) If the accident causes loss of life, or is produced either by machinery moved by steam, water, or other mechanical power, or through a vat, pan, or other structure filled with hot liquid or molten metal or other substance, or by explosion or escape of gas, steam, or metal, then, unless notice thereof is required by section sixty-three of the Explosives Act, 1875, to be sent to a Government inspector, notice thereof shall forthwith be sent to the certifying surgeon of the district.
  3. (3.) The notice shall state the residence of the person killed or injured, and the place to which he has been removed.
  4. (4.) If any notice required by this section to be sent with respect to an accident in a factory or workshop is not so sent, the occupier of the factory or workshop shall be liable to a fine not exceeding five pounds.
  5. (5.) If any accident to which this section applies occurs to a person employed in an iron mill or blast furnace, or other factory or workshop, where the occupier is not the actual employer of the person killed or injured, the actual employer shall immediately report the same to the occupier, and in default shall be liable to a fine not exceeding five pounds.
  6. (6.) This section shall apply to workshops conducted on the system of not employing any child, young person, or woman therein."

MR. ASQUITH moved an Amendment providing that the section should "extend" (instead of "apply") to workshops conducted on the system of not employing any children, young persons or women therein.

Amendment agreed to.

THE UNDER SECRETARY FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley) moved an Amendment raising the number of persons engaged from the outside to assist in domestic laundries from two to four. He contended that as the Bill now stood the clause would inflict great hardship on many thousands of poor persons who were obtaining their living by taking in washing and who carried on their work with the aid of their families and a little outside assistance. If these poor persons were to receive the aid of assistants, no matter for how short a time, they would come under the provisions of the Bill. Widows, for example, had to rely largely on ouside aid; married daughters, and daughters-in-law came in to assist for a short time in the course of the week, and very often these poor widows had to employ some one to take home and deliver the washing. They had often to employ a man to turn the mangle, perhaps only for an hour or two a week; but the cases were not rare when such persons had to employ at some time or other in the course of the week more assistance than could be given by two persons. In Committee he had moved an Amendment to substitute six instead of two; but as the number two was carried he had no subsequent opportunity to move the substitution of "four," though it was his intention to have done so. He had reason to think, from the feeling expressed by the Committee, that they would have accepted "four" if there had been an opportunity to consider it. He trusted that the late Home Secretary would see his way to accept the Amendment. Many thousands of poor people would be interfered with and harrassed by this legislation, while he feared that if the Bill passed in its present form it would be to the interest of the large steam laundries to shut up as many of the small industries as possible, because if the poor people transgressed the law by employing more than two outside persons they would be informed against.

MR. B. COHEN (Islington, E.)

also appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to accept the Amendment. For the first time laundries were being brought under the operation of this legislation, and it would only be just and merciful to treat them somewhat liberally, and not to enforce the extreme limits which it might otherwise be found necessary to enact. The object in factory legislation ought to be to abolish scandal, and not to make factory legislation oppressive to an industry like this, especially an industry engaged in by persons in humble circumstances.

MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)

said, that, looking to the peculiar circumstances in which the Bill appeared before the House, he thought that the appeal just made was inconsistent and very unreasonable. The object of the clause originally drafted was the protection of domestic industries, and the numbers engaged in them were to be confined to one family. The question as between two and six was discussed in the Committee, and two was carried. Who was to be included in the family—the uncle, the cousin, or the aunt? They had not stated this in the Bill. Generally speaking, the kind of people who took in washing—and he ought to know something about the subject, because his mother had been a washerwoman—consisted generally of a mother, two or three daughters, sometimes two or three sons—in all from five to seven or eight persons. This Bill would enable them to have two outsiders to help; and he contended that a domestic industry, however small, with from seven to ten persons engaged in it, ought to be subject to sanitary and factory laws. The Committee decided against the right hon. Member's proposal to increase two to six by a large majority, and then the right hon. Gentleman had not the Parliamentary courage to propose four instead of two. There was an understanding that all contentious Amendments should be thrown over, and he hoped this Amendment would be rejected.


said, that he must acknowledge that the right hon. Member for the Bordesley Division spoke with peculiar authority on this subject, and, if any reliance could be placed on what was in the newspapers, he could congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the fact that he would soon be able to bring his practical knowledge to the working of this Act. But he must appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to press the Amendment. In the Bill as originally drawn only domestic laundries—those which were worked by members of the same family living under the same roof—were excepted from the Bill. A long and admirable discussion in Committee made him realise the reasonableness of the contention that laundries which could practically be treated as domestic laundries ought not to be excluded from the exemption because they now and then employed outside help. The question of degree was no doubt difficult to determine, but the general opinion of the Committee was that two outside workers would be sufficient to limit the exemption. As had been pointed out in Committee, the outside workers need not be the same persons. Different persons might be employed on every day of the week, provided that not more than two were employed at any one time. If experience showed that this limitation was too severe and inelastic it could be altered later. But for the present he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be content with the arrangement arrived at in Committee.


pressed his right hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment. The arrangement which had been arrived at was in the nature of a compromise, and, although it did not satisfy him any more than his right hon. Friend, under the circumstances he thought the House was bound to accept it. But he must enter a gentle protest against the language of the hon. Member for Battersea, which was not very courteous to the right hon. Member for Bordesley, and which was not very necessary. The hon. Member had accused his right hon. Friend of want of Parliamentary courage because he did not propose an Amendment which would have been altogether out of order; and then the hon. Member sneered at the right hon. Gentleman's sympathy with a class of people whose interests the right hon. Gentleman had always undertaken to defend, and with conspicuous success and sincerity. The decision of the Committee on this point was to be regretted, because it would throw great responsibility on the Home Office; and it would lead either to a considerable evasion of the law or to the appointment of a large additional staff of inspectors to look after these really domestic laundries. This limitation had been pressed in the interests of the large laundries, which were really to be classed among the large manufacturing industries, and which were everywhere tending to supplant the small domestic industries.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 22:—