HC Deb 11 May 1908 vol 188 cc735-6
MR. J. DEVLIN (Belfast, W.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to a case heard at the Derry City Petty Sessions on 30th April last, in which Messrs. Tillie and Henderson, Foyle Factory, were summoned by Miss Hilda Martindale, inspector of factories, for having failed to take adequate measures for securing and maintaining a reasonable temperature in a room in the factory so as not to interfere with the purity of the air; whether he is aware that it was given in evidence that in one of the rooms where eighty-six women and girls were working the temperature was found to be 46 degrees in one part and 49 degrees in another, that the room was not provided with any means of securing warmth and the twenty-six windows in it were closed owing to the cold, that it was contended by the defence that the breath of the workers was sufficient to heat the rooms properly, that medical evidence given was to the effect that a temperature of 46 to 49 degrees induced lung trouble, neuralgia, and rheumatism, and that the warmth produced by the breath of the workers vitiated the air; is he aware that it was contended by the defence that the temperature of prisons was good enough for the workers, and that the Bench by a majority dismissed the case, and refused to state a case except on a point of law; and whether, in view of the importance to the workers of the issue raised in this case, he proposes to take any further action with regard to it.


I have received a Report of the proceedings in this case, and the facts are substantially as stated in the Question. I cannot agree with the view taken by the Court that a temperature of 46 degrees was a reasonable temperature for persons engaged in a sedentary occupation; and it is a view I think which few, if any, other Courts would take. No other case of the kind has come to my notice. I am advised that there is no appeal from the decision, but the matter shall have my consideration with a view to seeing what further steps may be desirable.