HC Deb 02 August 1907 vol 179 cc1465-6

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving the Second Reading, said the title of the Bill was very wide, its scope exceedingly narrow. He explained that it was necessary in order to enable ratification to be given to the Convention with foreign powers for the prohibition of the industrial employment of women at night which had been entered into last year by all the countries of Western and Central Europe, with the exception of Norway. Our law went in most respects beyond the requirements of the Convention which had been signed by our representatives except in two small particulars. In certain flax scutch mills the hours of employment of women were by the Factory Act left entirely unregulated, and there was a provision in the Coal Mines Regulation Act enabling women to be employed on surface work at mines on Friday evenings at hours later than would be authorisen by the Convention. These two provisions of our iudustrial law were entirely obsolete. They must be repealed to enable ratification to be given to the Convention.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS (Kent, St. Augustine's)

said there could be no objection to the passing of this measure, which proposed only to repeal a clause of the Factory and Workshops Act, 1901, and a clause of the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1887, in order, as the hon. Gentleman have said, to enable this country to ratify a Convention that had been made with foreign powers. All he desired was to ask whether an article had been inserted in that Convention to compel the Governments of other countries to enforce control in this matter. That question had an effect so far as this Bill was concerned, because one would naturally suppose that if this country carried out to the letter these proposals other Governments would do the same and that our workpeople would not be put into a different position from that of the workpeople abroad. He also wished to know when the Convention came into force, because he did not understand clearly what was the effect of Article 7 of the Convention. That Article proposed that the Convention was to come into force two years after the date of ratification, but allowed, apparently, a time limit of ten years in respect to certain raw sugar and wool-combing operations. He wished to know when the Convention would come into force and whether the employment of women at night was to be forbidden in other countries as in this.


said with regard to the first question of the right hon. Gentleman he might say that the signatory Powers bound themselves by proper administrative measures to enforce the requirements of the Convention. The Convention came into force two years after the deposit of ratifications. That deposit must be made before the end of next year. A delay of ten years was allowed for certain exceptional cases, of which the most important was the wool combing and weaving industry. This delay had to be conceded in order to secure the signature of Belgium to the Convention.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next.—(Mr. Herbert Samuel.)