HC Deb 05 June 1899 vol 72 cc297-9
MR. HEDDERWICK (Wick Burghs)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that jam factories are kept going, exempt from the provisions of the Factories Acts, for six months in the year, by being used for the curing of fish and other like purposes as soon as the period of exemption for the fruit trade has expired; whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that a crowd of country girls was imported by a jam factory without any provision having been made for their accommodation, and that in consequence the girls arriving went where they could find a roof to cover them, many being taken into houses of ill-fame; and whether he will cause inquiry to be made into all the circumstances of the case.


The first paragraph of the question relates to facts which have long been well known to my Department and which I attempted to deal with ill a Bill last Session. I have seen in the Fortnightly Review for last month a statement to the effect of the second paragraph; but it was put forward as a mere rumour without names, dates, or other means of identification. In these circumstances and in view of the fact that the provision of lodging accommodation for workpeople is a matter outside the Factory Acts, 1 do not see that an inquiry by my Department is possible.


I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that for many months in the year children of thirteen years of age and upwards are kept at work in jam factories from 6 o'clock in the morning till 10 and 11 o'clock at night, and are required to carry weights which sometimes amount to about a hundredweight; also that the damp heat in such factories rises frequently to 90 deg., and is productive of colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, and consumption: and whether he proposes to take any steps in the matter.


In answer to the hon. Member I may remind him that last year I introduced a Bill which would have brought jam factories fully within the sanitary provisions of the Factory Acts, and would have enabled me to limit the excessive hours of labour. I think some such legislation is desirable, and I have already said so several times this Session.

MR. TENNANT (Berwickshire)

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will endeavour to pass the Bill this year?


That question should be addressed to the Leader of the House, but, as I have said, I have a Bill on the subject ready.