§ MR. E. F. VESEY KNOX
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what processes or particular descriptions of manual labour have been certified by the Secretary of State, in pursuance of Section 8 of the Factories Act, 1891, to be dangerous or injurious to health or dangerous to life and limb; and whether it is intended by Clause 26 of the Factories and Workshops Bill to empower the Secretary of State to prohibit the employment of women or children, or young persons, in any of these occupations; and, in particular, whether it is intended that the Secretary of State shall have power to order shorter hours in the linen industry than those which prevail in the cotton industry?
§ MR. ASQUITH
The processes which have been dealt with under the enactment referred to are the following:—The manufacturers of white, red, orange, and yellow lead, and lead smelting, tinning and enamelling works, the manufacture of colours, lucifer match factories, the making of earthenware, certain processes in the manufacture of explosives, chemical works, electric accumulator works, flax mills, and linen factories, brass mixing and casting, quarries. The clause in question is directed to the case of trades where, from the nature of the industry itself, whatever precautions may be taken to insure the safety of those concerned, particular processes cannot be carried on by particular classes of workers, from reasons of age or sex, without running exceptional risks to life or health. I may mention, by way of illustration, the white lead industry, in which, as the Report of the Departmental Committee showed, young persons ought not to be employed at all, and there are certain processes in which 567 no women, and others in which no woman under a certain age, can safely engage. At present the Secretary of State is powerless to deal with such cases. There is no intention whatever to exercise the proposed powers, either as to total prohibition or as to limitation of hours, in the case of the linen industry, which is only dangerous or injurious to health if proper and easily practicable safeguards are neglected. Still less is it intended to make any discrimination between the linen and cotton trades.