HC Deb 06 July 1908 vol 191 cc1240-1

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that the Home Office authorised the prosecution of the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Govan, for illegally employing young persons after seven o'clock in the evening on two occasions, and that the sheriff took the view that a trade dispute created conditions under which it was unreasonable that employers should ad-here strictly to the law and imposed a nominal fine; and whether he proposes to take any further action in this matter.


Yes, Sir, I am aware of the proceedings in this case, which were undertaken by my Department. As regards the second paragraph of the Question, I have communictaed with the Sheriff-Substitute, who informs me that he did not say, and does not think, that a trade dispute creates conditions under which it is unreasonable that employers should adhere strictly to the law. The assistant-manager of the Fairfield Company stated that in the confusion and dislocation of work caused by a recent strike the young persons had been employed illegally, but not by his sanction, or to his knowledge. He expressed the great regret of his company for this occurrence, and undertook that special vigilance should be used to prevent its repetition. In these circumstances, the Sheriff-Substitute thought a nominal fine, coupled with the expenses of the prosecution, would meet the case. This firm has borne an excellent character in the past, and the occasion in question was the first, I believe, on which they have been prosecuted. I see no ground for questioning the propriety of the Sheriff-Substitute's decision.