HC Deb 08 July 1915 vol 73 cc515-6

asked the President of the Board of Education whether, in view of the prosecutions which have recently taken place against farmers for dismissing farm labourers and in their place employing boys on farm labour who had not secured certificates for exemption from school, and considering the disparity of payment offered to boys who have been granted exemption certificates (the rate in Norfolk varying from 3s. to 7s. per week), he has taken steps to secure that when children of school age are employed in agricultural work they are paid a fair wage?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Arthur Henderson)

I am investigating certain cases in which there is primâ facie reason for thinking that the administration of local education authorities or school attendance committees in excusing children from school attendance for employment in agriculture has been lax, and that the principles laid down in the Debate which took place in this House on the 25th February have not been observed. I am fully alive to the importance of securing reasonable and adequate remuneration for children so employed, and I will ask local education, authorities to co-operate with me in securing it. I have, however, no power to fix or enforce a minimum wage, and I can only appeal to the humanity and public spirit of employers and of those who are responsible for the local administration of education. If this appeal fails of its effect, the question of taking further action will have to be carefully considered by the Government.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether he cannot reduce the Grants to these local authorities which are proving so unsatisfactory in this matter?


I think I have already pointed out that the whole conduct will be taken into consideration.

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