HC Deb 10 July 1902 vol 110 cc1471-80
*MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)

, who was indistinctly heard, moved that the Special Order of the Secretary of State, dated June 17, 1902, prescribing conditions to special exception (fruit preserving), be annulled. He approved of the greater part of the Order, and was very grateful for the redemption of the Home Secretary's promise, made to him last year in the Standing Committee, but explained that, in order to raise an objection to a particular section of it, he was obliged by the Rules of the House to move that the whole be annulled. The section he objected to was the sixth, which regulated the hours for girls under sixteen; and the age limit, he contended, ought to be raised to eighteen. He based this contention upon the Section of the Act 1, Edw. 7, c. 22, sec.156, which says— The expression 'young person' moans a person who has ceased to be a child, and is under the aye of 18 years. And he asked why this protection should be limited in a trade specially exhausting to girls under 16 years, thus depriving of protection against overtime those of peculiarly delicate age, between 16 and 18 years.

He quoted from the Report of the Chief Lady Inspector cases of excess in labour, such as—

  1. "(1) The employment of women and girls seven days a week.
  2. (2) The employment of young per ons for 86 hours a week, exclusive of meal times.
  3. (3) The employment of young persons for 34 hours consecutively.
  4. (4) Irregular and scanty meal times.
  5. (5) Lack of Saturday half-holiday."
And to show further the need of protection for an unprotected class of the community, he quoted from the same Report—
  1. "(a) We have found girls employed in pouring hot jam who were employed on the previous afternoon in candying peel, and the previous night in bottle washing.
  2. (b) We have found little girls carrying and stacking jars of jam at night, who during the day had been employed in making potted meat.
  3. (c) We have found young girls making con fectionery, who went daily at the close of their normal hours to work in the jam boiling room.
  4. (d) We have found girls employed in the warehouse in covering and labelling jam, who for two hours in the early morning, and two hours late at night, and on Saturday after noons, were busy bottling fruit.
  5. (e) We have found a woman washing bottles, who the day before our visit had been engaged in unpacking and stacking clean jars, frequently attending to the gooseberry machine, and when not so employed peeling onions in the pickle making room."
And he asked why should any diminution of protection be afforded to such a class of the community?

He was not one of those who wished to interfere with male adult labour, and he would not interfere with adult labour at all if he could help it; but this was a class of the community who had no friends except that House. He felt it his duty to call attention to a real grievance of a peculiarly unprotected class of the community.

Motion made and Question proposed—"That the Special Order of the Secretary of State, dated the 17th day of June, 1902, prescribing conditions to Special Exception (Fruit Preserving) be annulled:—(Mr. Talbot.)

*MR. TENNANT (Berwickshire)

said that he had done his best to get this Order altered during the discussion of the Estimates, and also by communications he had seat to the Home Secretary, but up to the present he had received very scant encouragement. He endorsed the case laid before the House by his right lion, friend. The sixth paragraph was so bad that he would rather see the whole of the Order sacrificed than sanction such a piece of legislation. Under the paragraph in question, women and young girls over 16 years of age might be permitted to be worked twenty-two hours out of twenty-four. He wished to know what protection was being given to girls under sixteen when permission was given by this order to employ them for fifteen hours out of twenty-four. The right hon. Gentleman would probably say that what he had done was the first step, and that half-a-loaf was better than no bread, but he was not at all sure that this was so in this particular case. He did not admit that what had been done was any set off against the sixth section of the Order. He would remind the House that last year they were very 10th to pass section 41 of the Act, and it would never have been passed at all if the right hon. Gentleman had not stated that these terribly long hours would not be allowed. The last report issued upon this subject showed that irreparable injuries were being done to young workers who were employed for very long hours in the jam trade. There was no necessity whatever for these long hours in the jam trade, and the best manufacturers admitted that if all were made to comply with the ordinary law the trade could be carried on without inconvenience.


said that this order was applicable to the jam trade only in the fruit season of June, July, August, and September; and if the Motion of his right hon. friend were adopted, the industry would be carried on during the present season under no regulation whatever, and the young women and girls employed would, as a consequence, have to work under still more unfavourable conditions. His right hon. friend objected only to Rule 6—to one Rule out of eight—but, if that Rule were deleted, all the results of carrying on the trade during the present season would be lost. He thought his right hon. friend's action was less justifiable, because he had admitted frankly that many of the regulations prescribed under this Rule were a great advantage in the direction in which he desired legislation to move. His right hon. friend said that if he would consent to delete from these Rules the particular Rule to which he objected, he would be satisfied. The effect of doing that would be exactly the fame as refusing to make the Rule at all, because it would necessitate a new series of rules and regulations which would have to lie in draft upon the table for forty days before they came operative, and the House would at once see that to alter the Order in this way would be to make it ineffective during the present fruit preserving season.

His right hon. friend must remember that this was an entirely new departure, and that before the Act of 1901 there was no limitation at all of the hours of labour in those factories. He had now made regulations both as to hours of labour and as to sanitation, which he hoped would result in considerable improvement; but he had felt bound to proceed tentatively in this matter. This trade was one which they did not feel at liberty to deal with in a very drastic manner at first. His right hon. friend would observe that amongst the various Rules they have made the last one was of very great importance, and one which would prove a guide in their future dealings in this particular trade. It provided that a register must be kept in these factories in which the name of every woman or young person must be entered, and also the hour at which the fruit arrived, the processes in which women and young persons were employed, together with the period of their employment and the hours allowed for meals. This Rule had been adopted with the view of giving them some guidance in the future in regard to what could be done in the matter, and to guide the department in considering whether they would be justified at a later date in making the Rule more drastic.

The hon. Member had drawn a picture of the number of hours which it was possible for these young persons to be employed, but he wished to point out that this limitation had been imposed in consequence of the discussion which took place in Committee. They had drawn up the regulations with regard to this particular trade, so that the order was only applicable in cases where the fruit would be spoiled if these extra hours of labour were not allowed. This exception was limited to certain months in the year, and to the occasions when the fruit on arrival, and must be dealt with as a matter of emergency. He could not see that anything approaching the scandal which his right hon. friend feared in regard to the hours of labour could by any possibility arise. Although the Horn e Office had not felt it possible to go further than they had done in this Order, his right hon. friend might feel certain that he would watch the operation of the Order with the greatest cure, and would do his best at a future time to deal with any such scandals as those which he anticipated might possibly arise under the present Rule. What he wished to point out was that the rejection of this Rule would mean that all restrictions during the present season in this particular industry would be at once removed. He was sure that his right hon. friend would not like that state of things to arise, and therefore he hoped that this Motion would not be pressed to a division.

MR. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)

said that it was quite true that the House approached the discussion of this subject under very peculiar difficulties because they had not had the opportunity of dealing previously with the special provisions made in the Order, and the only means they had of questioning the expediency of any one of those regulations was to take the course which the right hon. Gentleman opposite had done, and to move to annul the Order as a whole. This Order introduced a distinct amelioration of the conditions under which this trade was carried on, and if it were possible to limit this Motion to the particular Clause to which they objected, he was sure his right hon. friend would most gladly have taken that course. He had listened with some disappointment to the statement made by the Home Secretary, because he had not given any reason in regard to the special conditions of this trade why a general limitation should not be applied. Admitting that there were exceptional conditions in this industry, the Home Secretary had given no reasons why the ordinary Rule which applied to young persons under sixteen should, in this case, be departed from. As one who had had some little experience in these matters, and as one who knew something about the special conditions of this trade, he thought it was so important that the general rules should be uniformly and universally applied unless a special case was made out, and which had not been made out in this case. Therefore, he did not think they ought to assent to the Order in the form in which it had been made. He would very much regret it if

Abraham, Williain(Cork, N. E.) Goddard, Daniel Ford Norman, Henry
Allen, Charles P.(Glonc., Stroud Gretton, John Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Alison, Sir William Reynell Griffith, Ellis J. O'Brien, Kendal (Tipp'rary Mid
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Gurdon, Sir W. Branipton O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Brown, George M.(Edinburgh) Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.
Burdett-Contts, W. Hay, Hon. Claude George O'Connor, James(Wicklow, W.)
Burke, E. Haviland- Hayden, John Patrick O'Kelly, J. (Roscommon, N.)
Caldwell, James Hayne, Kt. Hon. Charles Seale- Partington, Oswald
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Healy, Timothy Michael Power, Patrick Joseph
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Hormman, Frederick John Reddy, M.
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Jones, William (Carnarv'nshire Redmond, John E (Waterford)
Channing, Francis Allston Joyce, Michael Redmond, William (Clare)
Charrington. Spencer Kennedy, Patrick James Roe, Sir Thomas
Churchill, Winston Spencer Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm. Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Clancy, John Joseph Law-, Hugh Alex.(Donegal, W.) Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Cremer, William Randal Leigh. Sir Joseph Smith, H. C(North'm b. Tyn'side
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Lundon, W. Spencer, Rt Hn C. R.(Northants
Delany, William Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Sullivan, Donal
Donelan, Captain A. MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Doogan, R C. MacVeagh, Jeremiah Thompson Dr. E. C(Monag'h, N
Edwards, Frank M'Govern, T. Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Esmond e, Sir Thomas M'Kean, John
Finch, George H. Moss, Samuel
Flynn, James Christopher Murphy, John TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Galloway, William Johnson Nannetti, Joseph P. Mr. Talbot and Mr. Tennant.
Gladstone, Rt Hn. Herbert John Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Balfour, Rt. HnGerald W (Leeds Compton, Lord Alwyne
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Banbury, Frederick George Denny, Colonel
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Michael Hicks Disraeli, Conings by Ralph
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Bill, Charles Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-
Arkwright, John Stanhope Brookrield, Colonel Montagu Faber, Edmund B. (Hants. W.
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Bull, William James Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Cavendish, V. C.W. (Derbyshire Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst
Bailey, James (Walworth) Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne
Bain, Colonel James Robert Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Fisher, William Hayes
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r Collings, Rt, Hon. Jesse Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon

the ameliorations, which this Order introduced into the general condition of the trade, were not brought into force during the present season, but as there was no other way of insisting that the general rules should be applied to this particular trade, and as there were no special circumstances alleged by the Home Secretary in regard to the exemption of persons between sixteen and eighteen years of age, he felt compelled to support the Motion.

MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)

pointed out that the date fixed — namely, the 23rd of June — had already passed, and therefore there was nothing to prevent the Home Secretary making another Order.

(12.43.) Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 70; Noes, 88. (Division List No. 284.)

Green, Walford D. (Wedn'sbury Molesworth, Sir Lewis Sinclair, Louis (Romford)
Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G(Midd'x Moore, William (Antrim, N.) Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry Morgan, David J (Walthamst' w Spear, John Ward
Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm. Morrell, George Herbert Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)
Harris, Frederick Leverton Murray, Rt Hn. A Graham (Bute Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T. Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier
Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E. Nicholson, William Graham Thornton, Percy M.
Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse Nicol, Donald Ninian Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.
Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens Valentia, Viscount
Keswick, William Pretyman, Ernest George Vincent, Col. Sir CEH(Sheffield
Knowles, Lees Purvis, Robert Walker, Col. William Hall
Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow) Randles, John S. Wanklyn, James Leslie
Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) Remnant, James Farquharson Warde, Colonel C. E.
Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Renwick, George Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath
Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol, S) Ridley, Hon. MW.(Stalybridge Wylie, Alexander
Lowther, C. (Cnmb., Eskdale) Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)
Macdona, John Cumming Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Maconochie, A. W. Ropner, Colonel Robert TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire) Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford- Sir William Walrond and
Milvain, Thomas Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander Mr. Anstruther.

Adjourned at ten minutes before One o'clock.