HC Deb 16 July 1906 vol 160 cc1336-7
MR. ARTHUR HENDERSON (Durham, Barnard Castle)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can say how many notifications of the insanitary condition of factories in which jam and other articles of food are manufactured were forwarded by the women inspectors to sanitary authorities during the period covered by the Report of the chief inspector; and whether he has authorised any Home Office inspector to act in default of the sanitary authorities, as provided for by Section 4 of the Factory Act, 1901.


I fear I cannot give the hon. Member, the information asked for at such short notice, but the sanitary provisions of the Act in the case of factories are enforced by the inspectors of factories, not by the local authorities, and the number of such notices as are mentioned in the Question would be few. No case arose during 1905 in which it was found necessary to make an order under Section 4 of the Factory Act for the supersession of the local authority by the factory inspector with regard to the enforcement of the Act.


I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the factories in which articles of food are made, and which are alleged to be in an unsanitary condition, are premises hitherto unknown to the Home Office inspectorate, or have been subject to inspection by the male inspectors for any considerable time. I beg further to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the keeping of a factory in a cleanly state free from effluvia or other nuisance is provided for under the Factory Act, 1901, Section 1, without the intervention of the sanitary authorities; and, if so, whether stops were taken by the Home Office inspectors to remedy the defects narrated in the women's annual Report respecting jam and other food manufactories.


I have no reason for supposing that the factories referred to were unknown to the district inspectors, or have remained unvisited by them. Neglect of cleanliness at one period does not, in a trade such as this, argue previous absence of inspection. I regret to say, however, that a number of the matters to which the lady inspectors call attention, such as the cleanliness of the workers handling food materials, the cleanliness of the pots which are filled with jam, etc., are outside the scope of the Factory Act. They should, I think, be dealt with under the law for the protection of the public health, and I am bringing them to the notice of the President of the Local Government Board. The requirement of Section 1 of the Factory Act is that a factory shall be kept in a cleanly state and free from effluvia. Action was taken by the inspectors wherever the defects found were of a kind with which they had power to deal. I may add that this is by no means the first time that the inspectors have reported insanitary conditions in food preserving works, and that as the result of these reports considerable progress has been made in their sanitation, and bad places have become fewer. The whole question of the inspection of these premises is under my consideration, and I hope that still further progress will soon be made.