HC Deb 01 April 1925 vol 182 cc1321-3

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision for au annual holiday for employed persons; and for purposes connected therewith. The object of this Bill is to entitle persons engaged in the same employment for 12 months to an annual holiday of not less than six consecutive days, not counting Sunday, without lose; of pay. The Regulations would also provide for a proportion of that holiday without loss of pay for those who have not been in the same employment for 12 months. I should like to express the hope that this Bill will have as favourable a reception as the two Bills which have preceded it. I can say with perfect truth that this is not a frivolous Bill, but is designed to meet a very pressing need The pressing need for this Bill is that, as things are now, we have tens of thousands of very deserving and very hard-working people—indeed, I might say many hundreds of thousands, including agricultural labourers—whose wages are such and whose family needs are such that it is not possible for them once a year to get away from their work and go to the seaside or to some other place for recuperation and enjoyment. I know it may be said that for many years it has been the custom in most of the towns, and particularly in the industrial towns of the North, for the working people to demand that factories and industries shall be closed down for at least one week so that at least a large number of the workers from the factories and other industries can get away to the seaside and other places with their families. It may also be said that that annual holiday, which takes place so characteristically in Lancashire and Yorkshire towns every year, is quite easily provided for by payments week by week by the workers into clubs for the express purpose.

This practice, which gives both workers and employers the chance of leaving the smoke and grime of the towns for the seaside and the country, has been welcomed in the industrial districts of the North and has met with general acceptance, and there is no difficulty in carrying it out. But I want to submit that the growth of this practice has aggravated the condition of tens of thousands of men whose wages are low. As a matter of fact, a man working as a labourer in a factory for a low wage cannot afford to lose a week's wages in order to go away with his family to the seaside. Therefore, when the yearly holiday comes round there are tens of thousands of deserving and hardworking people who witness those better placed than themselves going away for a week, whereas they have to stay at home, being unable to do so. This Bill is designed to meet those cases. While, on the one hand, there are a million people who cannot afford the expense of going away, there are in the public Departments of State and in the municipalities something like 3,000,000 people who enjoy more than a week's holiday without loss of wages. There are the older Civil Service, the municipalities, the Post Office, the railways, the tramways, the schools elementary, secondary and public, the banks, public institutions, commercial staffs, ministers of religion, Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers, Generals in the Army, soldiers, sailors, bishops, and so on. They number over 3,000,000, and they enjoy, not one week, but many weeks' holiday without loss of pay.

I am pleading therefore that what is done by the State and by public enterprise for these fortunate persons shall be done for more deserving people who cannot afford to pay for holidays themselves. May I also point out that the proposal is not an impracticable one from an ordinary private traders' point of view. I am a member of the printing trade, and since 1918 the printing trade in this country, by agreement between the Employers' Association and the Workmen's Unions, has enjoyed 14 days holiday with pay for every person employed in the industry concerned with the Employers' Association and the Trade Unions. Every man, woman and girl has 14 days' holiday per annum with full pay. What the printers enjoy, I want this House to concede to less favoured people, such as agricultural labourers, miners, engineers, and textile workers, so that for a week they may leave the grime and smoke of the towns and come back to their work renewed with more vigour and better equipped to carry on their work.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Riley, Mr. James Hudson, Mr. Snell, Mr. Wallhead, Mr. Stamford, Mr. William Hirst, and Mr. Mackinder.

  1. ANNUAL HOLIDAY BILL, 37 words