HC Deb 14 July 1913 vol 55 cc882-4

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Report of His Majesty's Chief Inspector of Factories in 1912 shows that the carrying of grossly excessive weights is widespread and of frequent occurrence; that boys of fifteen in tinplate works carry weights of from 90 to 100 pounds; that women and girls employed in earthenware and china works, rag-sorting works, flax works, aerated water works, stoneware works, brick works, cotton mills, and making-up works, commonly carry weights of 80 pounds, and often weights of 100 pounds; and whether, in view of the injury resulting to workers from this cause, he proposes to introduce legislation to deal with this matter on the lines recommended by the Accidents Committee?


I have seen the passages referred to, but I do not think they are quite accurately summarised in the question. Eighty pounds is mentioned as a usual weight in two only of the industries named. The only direct statutory powers at present possessed by the Department are limited to the case of children under fourteen. By the Employment of Children Bill, now before the House, it is proposed to extend them to persons up to the age of sixteen. The Department is fully alive to the importance of the question, and is taking such action as is possible. In the case of the pottery trade the matter has already been dealt with in the new Regulations, and it has been put forward as one of the subjects for discussion at the series of conferences with employers and employed in different trades which are now being held in accordance with the recommendation of the Accidents Committee. It will be seen from the published Report of the conferences already held that considerable progress has been made in the desired direction. Instructions have also been issued to the certifying surgeons to have regard to the question when examining young persons for employment. The subject is noted for consideration in connection with the next amending Factory Bill, but I cannot say at present when it will be possible to take that up.


Will the right hon. Gentleman make any effort to pass the Employment of Children Bill this Session?


The Noble Lord knows the present state of business in the House as well as I do.