HC Deb 23 September 1915 vol 74 c574
8. Mr. KING

asked the Home Secretary if his attention has been called to the report of a committee presented to the Manchester meeting of the British Association in which the effects of the long hours and other present conditions of labour on the national health and well-being were discussed; whether he is aware that the dangers therein disclosed were confirmed by Mr. Legge, one of the Home Office inspectors; and whether it is the intention of the Government to encourage unrestricted hours of labour regardless of all present and future consequences?


I have seen a copy of this report, which deals, however, with the question of fatigue in general and not with any special reference to the emergency conditions now prevailing. The danger of overstrain under the present conditions has been receiving constant attention from the Home Office, and in the case of the munition works, where the pressure is greatest, a Committee has been appointed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Munitions, in consultation with the Home Secretary, to consider the hours of labour and other matters affecting the health and efficiency of the workers. There is no ground for the suggestion that the Government are encouraging unrestricted hours of work; a relaxation of the Factory Acts can only be obtained by Home Office order; in no case has permission been given to work excessive hours, and, as has been previously explained in the House, the utmost care is taken not to allow such overwork as will injure the health of the workers and so lessen their productive efficiency.