HC Deb 28 April 1915 vol 71 cc716-7

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the legal prosecution of a firm of engineers engaged at cartridge-making in Armley, Leeds, in which it was shown that a girl under eighteen years of age worked from 6 a.m. on Friday till 7 a.m. on Saturday, when she met with an accident, whilst an older woman worked from 6 a.m. on Friday till 11 a.m. on Saturday; whether he is aware that the Stipendiary Magistrate declined to convict on the ground that he might be limiting the output of ammunition; whether his attention has also been drawn to the death from exhaustion of an artificer at the Small Arms Factory, Enfield, who was stated to have worked eighty and a-half hours a week since August, thirty-two hours a week above normal; and whether he can take steps in co-operation with the military and naval authorities to encourage only such industrial conditions as will not destroy physical health and in the end retard output?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Cecil Harmsworth)

As regards the prosecution of the firm at Leeds, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave yesterday to the hon. Member for Bridgeton. I have seen a report of the inquest in the case referred to in the second part of the question. The Home Office has no power to control the hours of adult male workers in factories, but, so far as its powers extend, it has made every endeavour, in consultation with the War Office, and Admiralty, to adapt the conditions of work to the needs of the present emergency, and at the same time to safeguard workers against excessive hours.