HC Deb 03 May 1898 vol 57 c166
MR. H. J. TENNANT (Berwickshire)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the case of a drapery firm in Southampton, who, for working three girls all night, and for seven hours without an interval, were fined 1s. and costs in each case; whether such a transgression of the Factory Acts constitutes, as stated by the Mayor, but a technical offence; and whether he will consider the advisability of remonstrating with the Southampton bench of magistrates?


My attention has been called to this case. The women were employed for 22½ hours continuously, and from midnight to seven in the morning without even an interval for a meal. The only explanation given was that there was an urgent order, that the women were individually asked if they wished to work without an interval, and that they were allowed to rest next day. The same firm had been convicted last year of a similar offence. The fine imposed in each case was 1s., but, including costs, the total penalty was £2 17s. The amount of the fine is left by the Act in the magistrates' discretion, but I have written to them strongly expressing my opinion that they were not justified in treating the violation of the Factory Acts in this case as a merely technical offence.