HC Deb 15 August 1919 vol 119 cc1793-5
l. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the right hon. Member for the Gorbals Division of Glasgow to what extent the principles laid down in the Covenant of the League of Nations as governing the conditions of labour are intended to apply to non-European nations, including the Japanese, who are parties to the Covenant, and to Possessions which are not fully self-governing, including India, particularly in relation to the following points, the adoption of an eight-hour day; the adoption of a weekly rest of at least twenty-four hours; the right of association for lawful purposes; and the abolition of child labour?

Mr. BARNES (Minister without Portfolio)

I presume the hon. and gallant Member is referring in particular to Article 427 of the Peace Treaty, the principles for regulating Labour conditions in industrial communities which the Article lays down are intended to be as far as possible of general application; but I would remind him that the preamble to the Article specially recognises that the differences of climate, habits and customs, of economic opportunity and industrial tradition, makes strict uniformity between all countries difficult of immediate attainment.

Article 405 of the Treaty provides that the International Labour Conference, in framing recommendations or draft conventions for the regulation of Labour conditions shall have due regard to the special circumstances of those countries, and shall suggest the modifications, if any, which may be required to meet their case. The nature of these modifications will, of course, depend upon the circumstances of each case.

The extent, therefore, to which the countries mentioned can adopt the principles of Article 427, is a matter which has to be worked out at the International Labour Conference.

In regard to the question of the eight-hours day or forty-eight hours week, which is to be considered by the first conference in October, the organising Committee which is making preparations for the conference has invited the States in question to indicate the equivalent limitation of the hours of work which is considered suitable in the special circumstances of their countries. The reply will, of course, come before the Conference for consideration.

I may say that India is not in the same category as the non-governing Colonies which arc mentioned, because India is regarded as—and is, as a matter of fact—a full member of the League of Nations, and of labour organisation.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Can the right hon. Gentleman inform me if, when this Conference meets in October, representatives of Indian organised labour will be invited to attend?


Certainly; that is to say, if there is organised labour in India. If there is not, the Indian Government will select representatives.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Indian labour will not, then, select its representatives?



Lieut-Colonel THORNE

Will Japanese organised labour be invited to send delegates to the Conference?


Yes, exactly as in the case of India, or that of any other country. If there is organised labour, labour will be represented through that organisation. If there is not, then the Government will select the representatives.


Will the Japanese Government be represented?


The Japanese Government has been invited by Washington, and I assume it will be there as a member of the League of Nations.