HC Deb 14 March 1895 vol 31 cc1033-4
SIR J. GORST (Cambridge University)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that in some of the Poor Law schools children are put to labour as half-timers at nine years of age, and in no school is the age of half-timers fixed higher than 11; and that in some schools the hours of labour of children is as much as 10 and even upwards; and whether, in accordance with the National obligations entered into at the Berlin Conference in 1890, he will issue an order to prohibit the putting to labour of any children under the control of local authorities until they have attained the age of 12 years, and to limit their hours of labour to those prescribed at that Conference?


My attention has not been called to the fact that any children in the Poor Law schools have been put to labour before the age of 11. There is, I believe, some evidence to that effect before the Committee on these schools, of which the right hon. Gentleman is a Member; but it appears that in such cases the industrial work to which the children are put is of a domestic character very similar to that which would often be done by a child at home before or after school hours, and very different from work in factories. I propose, however, to issue an Order prohibiting the employment of children as half-timers below the age of 11. With respect to employment of children as half-timers between the ages of 11 and 12, I shall await the decision of the House on the Motion which I understand the right hon. Gentleman proposes to make in connection with the Factories Bill, to raise the limit of prohibition to the age of 12.