§ 4. Mr. TINKER
asked the Secretary for Mines the latest figures of the number of boys below the age of 16 years who are at present employed and working underground in the coal mines; can he say what number of shifts they have worked during the last 12 months; and how many of them have been on the night-turn between nine at night and five the following morning?
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
In December, 1930, the latest date for which information is available, 24,200 boys under 16 years of age were employed below ground at coal mines. I have no information as to the number of shifts worked by such boys but the average number of shifts worked during 1930 by workers of all ages below ground was approximately 238. No record is kept of the number of boys or other persons employed on night shifts but a special inquiry undertaken in April, 1927, indicated that at that time nearly one-third of the boys employed worked on shifts ending after 9 p.m. or beginning before 5 a.m.
§ Mr. TINKER
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that last week he stated that the cost would be too heavy to alter existing Acts of Parliament in order to prevent boys working underground on night turns; are we not, therefore, entitled to know how many boys are working at night?
§ Mr. FOOT
I shall be happy to give any information that is available, but I cannot give information that is not in our possession. I drew attention in my answer to the fact that it would not only be an additional cost, but would mean 187 difficulty in reorganisation, and I said that we shall be glad to consider any representations that may be made to us.