HC Deb 06 March 1900 vol 80 cc212-3
MR. GRAY (West Ham, N.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, having regard to the formal assent given by Her Majesty's Government in 1890 to the proposal made at the International Labour Congress, held in Berlin, that the age at which children might be permitted to work underground should be raised from twelve to fourteen, any steps have been taken by Her Majesty's Government to give effect to that proposal; and, if not, whether the Government contemplate legislation upon the subject during the current session; and whether he can state which Continental Powers represented at the Berlin Congress assented to the proposal, and what steps have been taken by them to give effect to their pledges.


No steps have been taken in this country since 1890 in the direction of raising the age below which children may not work underground; and the Government does not contemplate legislation on the subject this session. The resolution of the Congress was, I think, practically unanimous; but as far as I can ascertain, France and Norway are the only countries where there has been legislation on the subject since 1890; and even in those countries the employment underground of children of twelve years of age and upwards, though placed under restrictions, has not been actually prohibited.


Is it not the case that in France child labour under thirteen years of age is entirely prohibited? Will the Government give favourable consideration to a Bill raising the age to thirteen?


I understand the right hon. Baronet has introduced a Bill extending the age to thirteen. Of course the Government will be prepared to give the Bill full consideration, and I dare say that it may be a favourable one, but I cannot pledge myself.