HC Deb 10 March 1908 vol 185 cc1306-7
MR. JOWETT (Bradford, W.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether until within the last twelve months it was considered necessary for all candidates for inspectorship of factories, probationary and otherwise, to qualify in factory law and sanitary science; and, if so, whether he will state what recent events or considerations have led him to the abandonment of this principle.

I beg also to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what distinction will be made to enable occupiers of factories and factory operatives to know whether they are being interviewed by an inspector who is, or by a probationary inspector who is not, qualified to express an opinion as to whether the Factory Acts are being complied with and sanitary requirements are being met.

I beg further to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, having regard to the fact that the duties of inspectors of factories are comprised in the administration of factory law and the application of sanitary science, he will consider the desirability of issuing an alternative syllabus, under which persons who have received nominations for inspectorships may, if they so desire, qualify for appointment in these two subjects, and postpone their examination in literature, languages, etc., until the end of two years probation.


The principle referred to by my hon. friend has not been abandoned. As I informed him last week, all inspectors, with one or two special exceptions, such as the medical inspector, are required to qualify in factory law and sanitary science. The only change is that, whereas these two subjects previously formed part of the entrance examination, they are now deferred until a subsequent examination, which takes place at the end of two years' probation. The reason for this is that a candidate's knowledge of them can be more thoroughly tested after he has had practical acquaintance with the administration of the Acts, than before his appointment, when his knowledge will be mostly book knowledge crammed for the purpose of the examination. It is not the case that under the old system a candidate entered the service fully qualified to administer the Act, and express opinions whether its requirements were complied with. Under that sytsem, as under this, he had to learn his work under the direction and supervision of his superior officer, and no system could be devised which would do away with this necessity. I do not propose to make any alteration in the present scheme of examination.