§ MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he would grant a Return showing the number of children working underground during the year ending 31st December last (or ending on any more convenient date) who were during that year between twelve and fourteen years of age; such Return to show also the educational standard passed by these children and the number of hours per week worked by them.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir M. WHITE RIDLEY,) Lancs., Blackpool
The statutory Returns made by owners of mines do not show separately the number of children between the ages of twelve and fourteen employed below ground, or give the other particulars mentioned in the question, so that the information for which the hon. Member asks could only be obtained by applying separately to every owner. As experience shows that complete returns can never be obtained except in cases where they are required by law, I am afraid that I do not see my way to granting the Return. I may, however, point out that the hours of labour for the children in question are definitely limited by the Acts, and it may be said generally that no boy is employed underground until he has passed the local standard of total exemption from school attendance.