HC Deb 24 October 1899 vol 77 c570
MR. STEADMAN (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware that the labourers in the Deptford Victual ling Yard have been employed since Thursday, October 12, continuously, from 4 a.m. till 12 midnight, without any time being allowed for meals, except half an hour for dinner; and whether it is with his authority that these men are being supplied with rum in place of being allowed time or opportunity for meals; and if he will cause an inquiry to be made into such practices, and in the meantime take steps to ensure them being at once discontinued.


The pressure of work involved in the rapid despatch of the stores required for victualling simultaneously the transports for the Cape, a process which has been carried out without any hitch, has rendered overtime necessary. Only a limited number of men were so employed during the full period of overtime, and only those who volunteered for the duty. As many additional labourers as could with advantage be employed were taken on to meet the extreme pressure of work. Arrangements were made by which the men had breaks for meals and rest, averaging from one to two and a half hours. A small allowance of rum was issued to some of the men employed on the wharf on three nights, the work being of a very fatiguing character. The quantity issued to each man was fractionally below the ration which is issued in the Navy, namely, half a gill per man. In every instance the rum was diluted in the same proportion as on issue in the Navy, namely, with three times the quantity of water.