§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the result of further inquiry into the recent illegal working of women over hours in textile factories having contracts for the War Office; whether it has been found that the Bradford Trades Council are justified in their statement that the absence of inspection has allowed manufacturers working illegal overtime not only to produce cloth for Government purposes, but also for private sale; and whether, as stated, firms who could have executed the orders without illegal overtime have been passed over, and in the course of the last week not only women but also children have been illegally working overtime.
*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir M. WHITE RIDLEY) Lancashire, Blackpool
Individual inquiries have been made with regard to all firms known to be working overtime on Government contracts. In a few cases it was found that the overtime had been used for private work, and this has been stopped. In one case children were found to be employed overtime, and this also has been stopped. The names have been supplied to me today by the right hon. Baronet of some firms who appear to be working overtime without the knowledge of the factory 487 inspectors. I will make inquiry into these, and take such action as the circumstances may call for. As regards the first sentence of the last paragraph of the question, I can only repeat that the selection of firms for these Government contracts is not a matter as to which I have any responsibility or information.