§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that, in the fish trade, large quantities of fish, instead of being packed after salting, undergo other processes of curing, such as the smoking of herrings and the preservation of pilchards in oil; whether such processes are under the Factory Acts, and not exempted by Section 100 of the Factory Act of 1878, referring to gutting, salting, and packing fish immediately upon its arrival in fishing boats; and, whether the Factory Acts are being fully enforced, for example as to hours, in the processes of curing after salting and before packing, or in substitution of salting, such as those referred to?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY, Lancashire, Blackpool)
I have already informed the right hon. Baronet that the question whether these other processes, of which the Home Office is fully aware, are included in the exemption given in Section 100 of the Act of 1878 has al ways been felt to be of one difficulty. It is possible that a strict interpretation of the section might exclude them, but the view has always been taken and acted upon that 1592 the principle underlying the section is as applicable to them as to the processes about which there is no question, the principle, as I take it being, that measures which are necessary immediately on the arrival of the fish at the place of curing to save it from destruction should not be hindered by the restrictions of the Act. In view, however, of the difficulties which surround the subject, I propose to institute an Inquiry with the view of ascertaining what are the processes which are fairly covered by the principle I have mentioned and, if after consultation with the Law Officers it appears to be necessary, of taking steps to bring the law and the practice into accord.