§ 74. Mr. GILL
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been called to the recent increase in the offence against the Factory and Workshops Act known as "time-cribbing" in Lancashire cotton mills, and if he will send additional inspectors to that county to more effectively deal with the matter?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
I have no information to show that there has been any increase recently in Lancashire as a whole. Seventeen firms only were proceeded against for this offence in 1912, as compared with thirty-nine in 1911, twenty-three in 1910, and twenty-nine in 1909. The need for continual supervision in regard to the matter is fully realised by the Department, and I may add that the question of reorganising and strengthening the staff in Lancashire with a view to increasing the efficiency of the inspection generally is now under consideration.
§ Mr. McKENNA
My hon. Friend has been good enough to send me particulars of a recent case in which proceedings against a firm on a charge of time-cribbing resulted only in an order being made for payment of costs. I observe, however, that the justices came to the conclusion that in that particular case the offence had been a technical one only; and the records of the Department do not show that the average penalty in Lancashire is lower than in the rest of the country. The amount of the penalty in each case is a matter for the discretion of the justices after hearing the evidence, and I do not think it would be advisable to issue a circular as suggested.