MR, J. RAMSAY MACDONALD (Leicester)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that, owing to the habitual employment of lads by a clothing firm in Leeds after. 4 p.m. on Saturdays, complaint was made to the factory inspector's office; that the factory inspector replied that he had visited the firm at 4.25 p.m. on the following Saturday and had discovered lads being employed, but that, as he had been informed that they had had one hour for dinner, he did not consider that the legal time had been exceeded; whether complaint 97 was thereupon made to the Home Office, and, after the lapse of a month, a reply was sent that the firm had been cautioned and that no further steps were to be taken; and whether he will state why no legal proceedings were taken against the firm.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
The facts of the ease are these. The complaint received by the inspector did not state that the boys wore habitually employed after 4 on Saturday, but that the complainant had heard that the firm would be working their boys till 4.30 on the following day, that is, the day on which the letter was received. The inspector visited the promises the same afternoon at 4.30, and met seven boys coming downstairs with their coats on. He did not see them at work, but they told him they had only just finished. The inspector in his reply to the complainant did not say that the legal time had not been exceeded, but while stating that the boys had evidently been working for a short time after 4, mentioned that as the boys had had an hour for dinner instead of the half hour required on Saturdays, the total number of hours of work allowed on Saturday had not been exceeded. The ordinary practice at this factory is for the boys to leave off at 1 p.m. on Saturday although the law allows them to be employed until 4 p.m., and the inspector has reason to believe that only once before this year had they worked after 1 p.m. In those circumstances, and in view of the fact that the firm bear an excellent character, that they had never been warned or prosecuted before, and that there was nothing to show that overtime was habitual, the superintending inspector considered that the case would be sufficiently met by a caution. On the case being brought to my notice I made full inquiry, and found no reason to disagree with the view of the superintending inspector.