HC Deb 13 July 1915 vol 73 cc737-8

asked the President of the Board of Education whether, with a view to prevent the injury suffered by children of school age by their employment in errand work, admittedly one of the blind alley occupations, and in view of the shortage of labour in retail trades, he will issue a circular to local education authorities recommending that the attention of retail traders within their areas should publicly be drawn to the importance of employing women and elderly men in preference to children in the work of delivery of goods, and that purchasers of retail goods should be invited, so far as possible, to carry their own parcels during the currency of the War?

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

I am in complete sympathy with my right hon. Friend's desire that the employment of school children for excessively long hours in unsuitable and unpromising occupations should be discouraged as far as possible. On the other hand, I am bound to recognise that at the present time a limitation of the resources out of which the working classes have to meet the increasing cost of living might involve hardship. Before taking the course suggested in the question the Board would have to be satisfied by careful investigation that the effect of their recommendations, if generally adopted, would not be adverse to the present interests of the children themselves.