HC Deb 01 December 1908 vol 197 cc1240-1
MR. FFRENCH (Wexford, S.)

To ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that Irish migratory labourers in numerous instances, having returned to their homes after harvesting in England, have been found suffering from pulmonary consumption, traceable to the sleeping places called Paddy houses, in which Irish farm labourers are permitted to be housed in England; whether he is aware that these houses are dark, unventilated barns, in which the men have to sleep in coarse bags on the floor; and whether the sanitary authority can compel English farmers to give proper sleeping accommodation to their labourers; and, if so, will he see that the law is put in force.

(Answered by Mr. John Burns.) I am not in possession of any information to show that pulmonary consumption amongst Irish labourers has been caused in the way suggested. At the same time, I am aware that the temporary accommodation provided for migratory labourers, such as navvies, hop-pickers, strawberry and vegetable pickers, is not unfrequently used for those engaged in harvesting, and that this accommodation is often unsatisfactory, though it is tending to improve. One of the medical inspectors of the Local Government Board is, by my direction, now engaged in investigating the conditions under which migratory labourers are housed. A report which he has already made with regard to hop-pickers has led to action being taken by the local authorities, and I am shortly expecting a further report from him in relation to other branches of the subject, which will, I believe, contain some definite recommendations with regard to the matter.