HC Deb 09 May 1916 vol 82 cc444-5

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the chief divisional inspector of mines for the county of Durham has requested the county education authority to relax its attendance by-laws so that boys of thirteen may be exempted from school attendance in order to undertake surface employment at coal mines; whether this action was taken with his previous knowledge and sanction; and, if so, whether the Board of Education was consulted in the matter?


I think my hon. Friend has been misinformed. No such request has been made. The facts are these: Representations were made that if some concessions were made in regard to the employment of boys on the surface it would help to meet the difficulties caused by the shortage of labour and assist in maintaining the output of coal. After consultation with the Board of Education, the Home Secretary asked the Durham Colliery Recruiting Court, which is composed of the mines inspector, one representative of the owners and one of the miners, to investigate the position as to shortage of labour, consider what remedies might be possible, and confer with the education committee. I understand that the Court, after inquiry, has arrived at a provisional conclusion that the shortage can only be met by some relaxation in regard to the exemption of boys of thirteen from school attendance, and are arranging to confer with the education committee. No decision has yet been taken.