HC Deb 11 July 1934 vol 292 cc448-52

Amendment made: In page 12, line 22, leave out "(as extended by section four of this Act)."—[Captain Crookshank.]

NEW SCHEDULE.—(Temporary modification of references to working hours.)
Provision of Act. Subject matter. References for which substitution is to be made. Substituted references.
Section one Hours of employment 48 working hours 52 working hours
50 working hours 24 working hours
12 working hours 8 working hours
Sub-section (1) of section four Special provisions as to the catering trade 96 working hours 104 working hours
Sub-section (3) of section four Special provisions as to the catering trade 8 working hours 4 working hours
Sub-section (1) of section five Special provisions as to the sale of accessories for aircraft, motor-vehicles, and cycles. 48 working hours 52 working hours
54 working hours 58 working hours
144 working hours 156 working hours
12 working hours 6 working hours
Sub-section (5) of section five Special provisions as to the sale of accessories for aircraft, motor-vehicles, and cycles. 12 working hours 6 working hours

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

10.4 p.m.


I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

There are some occasions when it falls to the duty of a Minister to introduce to this House a Bill which commands universal interest and universal support and I should like on this occasion to express my appreciation of the services which Members in all parts of the House have rendered in making this Measure one which I hope will be regarded as of immense value to the welfare of our people as a whole. I wish also to express the thanks of the Home Office and myself to those bodies both of employers and employed who have co-operated with us so wholeheartedly in this matter. From time to time there come into this House Measures which touch in the closest manner the well-being of our people young and old, and I am happy that it has fallen to the lot of the Home Office during my tenure of office to be associated with this Measure, which I commend to the House.

10.5 p.m.


I would like to add a few words with regard to what is, after all, a very admirable Measure. It takes us a long way indeed towards the goal towards which some of us have been working for years past. In one very important respect, the Bill is better now that we are dealing with it on Third Reading, than it was when it came before us on Second Reading. There are still one or two small blemishes in it, but I hope that with the experience of years we shall be able to find out exactly how this Measure will operate in actual practice. Might I be allowed to say how much I wish personally that one man above all men were alive tonight to see the achievement of this task, and that is the late R. A. Taylor, a Member who did so much work in framing some of these proposals?

10.6 p.m.


I want to raise one point in relation to a short argument that we had during the Report stage of the Bill. My right hon. Friend, when I referred to the Act of 1892 as having made no provision for a transitional period, pointed out that that was purely an amending Act, and I think the House was left with the impression that as the practice had already grown up of employing young people for 74 hours, there was no need to insert a transitional period in that Act. My right hon. Friend referred to the original Act, as I understand it, of 1886, and I felt absolutely obliged to look up that Act, which I understand was the original Act regulating the hours of young persons. I find that that Act received the Royal Assent on the 25th June, 1886, and came into operation on the 1st November, 1886, so that even in that original Act there was no transitional period. I would also point out that that Measure was only a temporary Act for two years, which is almost the period in relation to the argument that we have had over whether or not it is wise to have a transitional period of two years. I felt that I must take this opportunity of, so to speak, consolidating my position, in order to prove that my point was not altogether unwise, but having done so, I wish to add my congratulations to my right hon. Friend and to say that I hope the Bill will provide for the young persons whom it seeks to help a very successful outcome in their employment in the future.

10.9 p.m.


It would be ungracious if one who has harassed the Home Secretary and his Department for a great period of time in regard to this Bill did not join in thanking him for carrying it through to its Third Reading and, I hope, into law. I am in profound agreement with one remark that he made this afternoon. He asserted that he had achieved this Bill by the method of agreement with those who were chiefly engaged in carrying on the businesses concerned, and I am quite sure that such an agreement is vital. A Bill of this kind would be hardly administrable if one tried to administer it in the face of the opposition of those who had to work it, and a worse Bill that carried universal agreement would be far better than a somewhat better Bill that was not universally agreed. I thank the right hon. Gentleman heartily for carrying this Bill through.

10.10 p.m.


I wish to have it on record that I am utterly opposed to this class of legislation, which, in my judgment, is doing so much to aggravate and extend unemployment in this country. In conversation with many of my hon. Friends in this House, I find a large measure of agreement with me in that view, but noblesse oblige, and we feel, as supporting the Government, that we cannot pursue a too aggressive attitude, and that we must, if necessary, go into the Lobby with the Government. I wish it to be on record that this class of legislation has done a great amount of harm. I am not surprised at the support that it has received from the Socialist Front Bench. I quite expected that they would support this. It is natural and proper that they should, and I respect them for pursuing their opinions, but I have not the same respect for those on my own benches who persistently seek to put Socialist Measures on the Statute Book in the hope and belief that, by so doing, they will be able to continue in power. I think they will find ere long that the very Measures which they have supported to maintain them in power will prove to be the means of their destruction.

10.12 p.m.


I support this Measure, as a good Conservative, most heartily, and I congratulate the Home Secretary on the attitude that he has adopted in connection with it. He is following in the footsteps of a man who is tremendously respected in Lancashire, the late Lord Cross, who as Home Secretary, introduced legislation of far-reaching character and whose name is revered to-day throughout the whole of the English-speaking race. I am proud to testify that a Conservative Home Secretary has introduced and passed through legislation of this description. I do not want it to go forth that the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour) was expressing the views of the Conservative party as a whole. The Conservative party in the past have passed legislation for the benefit of the working classes of this country, and I am sure my right hon. Friend is following in the right tradition in introducing and passing through a Measure of this description.