HC Deb 01 March 1898 vol 54 cc294-5

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India, whether he is aware, that in the jute manufacturing industry of India, which gives employment to nearly 100,000 persons, increasing complaints are made of the long hours, of working day and night under the electric light; and that the Jute Association of Calcutta are almost unanimously in favour of closing the mills early on Saturday and giving the European employees their Sunday rest, which is only prevented by the refusal of one or two employers; and whether he will recommend legislation by the Government of Bengal to carry out the views of the large majority of employers, as recommended by the special Inspector of Factories?


(1) My information on the subject is contained in the following extract of a letter from the Government of India, dated the 16th December last, which, with permission of the House, I will read. The Government of India say— On the report (that is the Factory Inspector's report) for 1895 the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal expressed a hope that the members of the Jute Association and other employers would take into their serious consideration the question of closing mills early on Saturday for purposes of cleaning and repairs, so as to give the European employees their Sunday rest. The matter was discussed by the Jute Association, but not with beneficial effect, as, although all but one of the mills were in favour of closing at three o'clock on Saturday, the agents in Dundee of that mill refuse to consent to the Measure. Thus all the mills are kept working as before. The Government of Bengal intends to bring the matter to the notice of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce. We are awaiting the result of that reference before deciding what action should be taken in the matter. (2) In these circumstances I do not propose to take any step until I hear further from India.