HC Deb 11 July 1934 vol 292 cc407-32

7.41 p.m.


The first Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), proposes to leave out lines 12 to 17, the proviso to Sub-section (1). In putting that Amendment, I shall have to save Amendments which are on the Paper in the name of the Minister. There is an Amendment on the Paper also in the name of the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. C. Brown), in line 17 to leave out "or newspapers." Perhaps it would be convenient if that Amendment were included in the discussion of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Westhoughton.

7.42 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 3, to leave out lines 12 to 17.

This is a matter which has created a great deal of discussion in this House and in the country. The purpose of the Amendment is to delete from the Clause the title to employ any young male person, 16 and 17 years of age, in the collection or delivery of milk, bread and newspapers, as from 5 o'clock in the morning. Behind this provision there is a story that is worth telling. When the Bill was introduced by the Government the Government did not think it worth while to include provisions for the delivery and collection of newspapers, and all that we had then was that the young male person, 16 and 17 years of age, should be allowed in law to be employed in the collection or delivery if milk and bread only. That was because bread and milk are food and perishable. If there is any argument for the delivery of anything early in the morning, it is an argument in favour of including those two commodities. That was the reason why we did not criticise this provision as strongly as we would otherwise have done.

When the Bill was sent to a Standing Committee the. newspaper Press and the newsagents had been canvassing Members of Parliament, and I was rather amazed that it was a lady Member of this House who moved the insertion of this very reactionary new provision, to allow the employment of young persons, 16 and 17 years of age, in the delivery and collection of newspapers as from 5 o'clock in the morning. The hon. Lady to whom I refer is the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent (Mrs. Copeland). I was astonished, too, that the hon. Member for Stourbridge (Mr. Morgan) being an educationist voted in favour of the new provision. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because, as an educationist, he ought to have known better. As far as I know the National Union of Teachers to which he belongs wants to raise the school-leaving age to about 16, and if the policy of that organisation were translated into law, then this proposal would mean that children would be kept in school until they were 16, and at that age, having been accustomed to go to school at 9 o'clock in the morning, they would suddenly be asked to begin work at 5 o'clock in the morning. That would be a preposterous state of affairs. Let me argue the case against the employment of any young persons at all at 5 o'clock in the morning. I am glad that the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) is here, because this is a problem which affects the mother in the home. A young person cannot be got out to work at 5 o'clock in the morning unless his mother gets up at 4 o'clock in the morning to rouse him and prepare food for him.




Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman deny that statement? Let me tell him that that is the experience of the mothers among the working folk whom I know. My mother had always to get up about an hour before the time at which I had to commence work and I was as good a riser as anybody. A boy may have to go to work a distance of three or four miles from his home.


The hon. Member is describing an extreme case. A boy who is delivering newspapers at 5 o'clock in the morning will probably go back to his home for breakfast at 7 or 7.30 o'clock.


I do not want to challenge the hon. and gallant Gentleman's information but my information is different. We have to face the facts that the custom and practice in connection with the delivery of milk, bread and newspapers will vary in different parts of the country. Where I live I have never seen young persons delivering milk, bread or newspapers in the morning. It has always been done by adults there. We do not want to prevent the delivery of milk or bread or newspapers at 2 o'clock in the morning, if people want such things at that hour, but we object to boys of 16 and 17 being called upon to do that work. It may be said, "Let them earn a few shillings." Surely there are older people who would like to earn a few shillings. I am very sorry that the new provision was inserted in the Bill in Committee. I have never understood that it would be impossible for our civilisation to proceed without newspapers. I am not so sure whether our civilisation would not be of a higher quality if it were not for daily newspapers, especially some of them—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—like those read by hon. Members opposite. I think we might be better off without some of them. While we are taking these two Amendments together we propose to have two Divisions. We shall challenge first a Division on the question of removing all reference to the delivery of bread, milk or newspapers. If we are defeated, as I fear we may be, on that issue we shall then take a Division on the question of the deletion of the reference to the collection and delivery of newspapers alone.

I appeal to hon. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies too in this House to remember one thing. When they vote in favour of sending these youngsters out at 5 o'clock in the morning, they are determining the labour conditions for other people's children—not their own. I do not think there is any Member of this House who would care to see his or her own child getting up at 4.30 o'clock in the morning in the winter time to go out to work and I object to hon. Members voting in favour of such conditions of employment for other people's children. I hope that the Under-Secretary will have something to tell us which will meet the case I have endeavoured to put before the House. I am glad to see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education in his place. Perhaps he may do something to soften the hearts of the Home Secretary and the Under-Secretary. Their hearts need softening because they have not conceded even one inch of ground during all these proceedings. If they are not prepared to meet us, we shall press all the more vigorously our own point of view.

7.52 p.m.


It would be just as well perhaps if I made it clear, straightaway, that we canont accept this Amendment. I do not expect that the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Davies) will be particularly surprised at that fact. To hear him speak one would imagine that as a result of this provision every young person in the country would be compelled to do this kind of work. I should think it very probable that, other things being equal, those young people between the ages of 16 and 18 who are already doing this kind of work will continue to do it. If a number of those who work in connection with the collection and delivery of milk, bread and newspapers at present, are between those ages, I very much hope that we shall enable them to keep their jobs and that they will not be dismissed—which would be the inevitable result if the hon. Member's Amendment were accepted. I know that hon. Members opposite say that the work would be done by somebody else but that does not alter the fact that the young person would lose his job and that is not a very desirable thing in itself. We are not doing anything very outrageous in this provision. It is a permissive Clause and I would remind hon. Members opposite, who are always so anxious that we should take part in international conferences and sign international conventions and other instruments of that kind, that the Convention dealing with the hours of employment of young people in industry allows for the starting of work in certain cases at 5 o'clock in the morning.


But is the hon. and gallant Member not aware that that proposed Convention relates to industry and does not touch distribution?


I said that it referred to industrial employment, but I do not see that there is any material difference. If it be a terrible thing that somebody should have to get up and start working at 5 o'clock in the morning to deliver milk, bread and newspapers, it seems to me that it must be equally terrible to get up at that hour of the morning to start any other kind of job. It seems to me that 5 o'clock in the morning is much the same, whatever the job and whether the person concerned is aged from 16 to 18 or has attained the age of my hon. Friend or myself. We have to admit that we cannot by this Bill—and we do not want to do so—upset the existing procedure with regard to distribution in this country. We are in the Bill very largely safeguarding the conditions under which young persons can be employed, particularly with regard to overtime, but it is essential as hon. Members opposite have more or less admitted, that milk and bread, being perishable commodities which are required in the early morning must be delivered at these early hours. It may be said that it is a matter of opinion whether a newspaper is a perishable commodity or not. It is, anyhow, ephemeral and there is not much good in getting a daily newspaper at an unduly late hour, at least as far as the great mass of our fellow-citizens are concerned. This matter was well discussed in the Committee and the Committee agreed to include newspapers and, taking all things into account, both the practical requirements of the various industries concerned and also, I hope, the commonsense view of the matter, my right hon. Friend proposes to ask the House to resist the Amendment.

7.56 p.m.


I am at a loss to understand why the proviso as to the hour of 5 o'clock in the morning, should be inserted in the Bill in connection with the delivery of bread. I have been connected with baking all my life. I worked at the trade for 25 years and I do not think there is anyone in this House who has ever had to get up regularly, earlier than I had to in those days, because 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning was the hour prevailing in my time. For 20 years I have been an official of the bakers' union and I, therefore, can claim some experience of the industry. I submit that there is no necessity for having boys of 16 and 17 at work at 5 o'clock in the morning for the delivery of bread. Bread in fact is not delivered at 5 o'clock or 6 o'clock in the morning. In Scotland it is the custom to deliver rolls very early in the morning but even there the delivery is round about 7.30 o'clock in the morning. South of the Border the delivery of bread does not start until at least 8.30 o'clock in the morning and in many towns not until 10 o'clock in the morning. Whoever advised the insertion of this hour in the Bill for the delivery of bread must have been misinformed.


Perhaps I can help the hon. Member. He may not have noticed that we propose to insert the word "collection" as well as delivery. That would involve work preliminary to the actual delivery.


With all dup respect, the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not understand anything about the trade. There is no collection previous to delivery. The men have been at work all night in the baker's shop making the bread. When the young person comes there in the morning it is not necessary that he should go round collecting bread. The bread is there ready in the racks. My point is that it is an impossibility for the employer to send a- boy out to commence the delivery of bread at 5 o'clock in the morning. Imagine a boy coming to a house with a basket of bread at 5.30 o'clock in the morning, knocking up the household and demanding, "How much bread do you require to-day?" He would be told in most cases, "Go. away! Fancy waking respectable people at this time of the morning!" This provision as to the collection and delivery of bread at 5 o'clock in the morning was put into the Bill and the newsagents immediately used it as an argument for the inclusion of the delivery of newspapers. The newsagents at the commencement of this business raised no objection to the time being fixed at 6 o'clock in the morning. It was not until very late in the proceedings that they realised that as the bread and the milk boys could commence work at 5 a.m., they could demand that their boys should commence at 5 also. I have been a bit concerned about this question of boys in the baking industry. No one knows better than the Home Secretary the rather bad conditions which exist in bakeries to-day so far as juveniles are concerned. There are prosecutions all over the country, and the right hon. Gentleman has had his attention drawn to the matter, to such an extent that he himself is conducting an inquiry. Up to now it has not been the practice to have boys in the bakehouse until at least 6 a.m. In Scotland permission has to be sought for boys to go into the bakehouse at 5 a.m. I asked a question about it the other day, and I was told that permission could be granted, but you are now making it a general rule, because, in spite of the fact that it is said that boys are to go to the bakehouse to collect or deliver bread, in practice once they are there, they are put to work in the bakehouse until 8 or 8.30 a.m., when the bread is ready for delivery.

If there is a weak point about this whole Bill, it is the question of bread. It is all very well for my hon. Friend opposite to say that bread is perishable. That is true, but perishable things ought to be delivered at reasonable times. It is not the same as in the case of milk, where you can leave a couple of bottles on the doorstep and steal quietly away before waking anyone up. Bread is different altogether, and I hope the Government will make some reply to the case that I am making that bread should be excluded from this provision altogether. Six o'clock in the morning is plenty early enough for boys to go to the bakehouse, and in spite of all that my hon. Friend opposite has said about his experience, the fact remains that if a boy has to be at work at five in the morning, it means in the vast majority of cases that someone has to get him up, and for that purpose has to get out of bed just turned 4 o'clock. I put it to this House that it is unreasonable to fetch these young children out of bed so early in the morning. After all, they are but children, between 16 and 17 years of are and the children of hon. Members of this House at that age are still at school. I know it may he said that you must employ the sons of the working classes, but I suggest that we who are really in earnest in trying to do something to better the conditions of work, to make things happier and give a brighter future for the young people of this country, may reasonably ask that they should not be required to commence work before six in the morning.

Let me take another point. We want to give children of 16 and 17 years of age the benefits of our excellent technical education. We in the bakehouses want to send these boys to technical schools, to such excellent places as the Polytechnic, to make them workmen and craftsmen, and to give them pride and joy in their work. How are you going to teach these boys, whom you have dragged out of bed at four in the morning, and give them the benefits of technical education? Even if they finish at five in the evening, they are tired out and cannot grasp what you are trying to teach them. Some hon. Members of this House talk about the craftsmanship and workmanship of the British workman, and we want to give these young people a chance to be craftsmen, but they cannot get a chance if they have to get up at four in the morning and go to the bakehouse to start work at five. I wish the Under-Secretary of State would come with me and go round some of the hake-houses in London to see where these boys are condemned to start work at this unearthly time in the morning. I wish he could understand the conditions which operate in the baking industry in this great city of London. I am not asking for mercy for the adults in the industry, but I am pleading for the young people coming into the industry, that they may have a decent chance to acquit themselves as craftsmen and workmen in the profession that they have undertaken to follow.

I hope the Under-Secretary of State will recognise that there never was a case for including bakeries in this provision for starting work at 5 a.m. Whoever it was who persuaded the Home Office that bakers should be included must either not have understood the trade at all, or been one of those old chaps who think that the earlier you start them to work, the more you will get out of them. As a matter of fact, the earlier you start them to work, the less you get out of them in the long run. I am positive of that. From my own experience as manager. foreman, workman and craftsman, I know that these early starts take all the energy, all the grit, all the enthusiasm out of these young people when it is repeated morning after morning, week after week, year in and year out. I hope we may get some reconsideration of this point, at least so far as bread and newspapers are concerned.

8.8 p.m.

Viscountess ASTOR

I hope the Under-Secretary of State will reconsider this question and make the hour 6 instead of 5 in the morning. I think this is a real case, and certainly no case has been made out for a o'clock. I have had experience about some of these boys working in the morning, and it is not that they are there to deliver bread. If they get there at 5, they have to clean up the shop, and it is not for the convenience of the people outside that they have to start at such an early hour. Even if people do want bread delivered at 5 or 5.30 in the morning, I do not think it is right to ask juveniles to do it. As the last speaker said, 5 in the morning is extraordinarily early. I do not know whether all parents get up early so as to send their boys off to work—some do, if others do not—but I am certain that 5 o'clock is too early for any juveniles to work. It really is, and it would not be a great inconvenience to the public to disallow it. It might upset some few people, but to say that it is necessary to deliver bread at 5 in the morning is all bunkum.

I am sure of that, and I am sure that if the Under-Secretary of State went into the question more thoroughly, he would find it so himself. You will not find a single social worker who has had to do with these juveniles who wants them to begin work at 5 in the morning, if they are to do anything later in the day. I have seen it with my own children. 1 do not care how much rest they may get during the rest of the day, if they get up very early in the morning, it has an extraordinary effect, later on, on their vitality and on their interest; and children who get up at 5 in the morning do not do half as much as those who get up at 6 or 7. This is not sentimental but practical, and I believe the whole House would be very grateful if the Home Office would make the hour 6 o'clock.

It seems to me, with regard to the newspapers, that if people did not get their newspapers first thing in the morning, it might not be such a bad thing for them, and they might start out better able to judge of things in a right way. I know that I get my mind filled with more stable things if I want to do any good during the day, and I do not believe in this idea that you must start off first thing with the newspaper. There are better things to read in the morning than the newspapers. I am not mainly concerned with that question, however. My chief concern is with these children, and if the Under-Secretary of State would only promise to look into the question and go to the bakeries to see these children cleaning them out at 5 in the morning—


The Noble Lady does not quite appreciate what the Clause does. This proviso is merely in connection with the collection and delivery of bread, and if boys cleaned up the shop or did something else that was not in connection with those things, they would be contravening the provision.

Viscountess ASTOR

if you get these boys there at 5 in the morning, how many people will have their bread delivered at 5.30 or even 6? The hon. and gallant Member will find that there is a very small number of people throughout the country who want their bread delivered at 6 o'clock. There are not many who want to be aroused at 6 by the bread arriving. I know about this matter, and if the Under-Secretary of State will look into it himself, he will find that I am right. He is new to this job, and I have every confidence in him, because I know that he is a practical man and interested in social questions. That is why many of us welcome him in his new appointment, and I am convinced that if he had more time to look into this question for himself, he would delete "five" and put in "six," which is quite early enough for any young person to start work. I suppose it is no good making a plea about the mothers—the mother of a large working-class family. Goodness knows, her life is hard enough anyhow, and if she has to get up at 4 o'clock in order to get her boy off to start work at 5—well, I plead with the Government to give us this small concession, and I am sure that the country would soon get used to this change, which, after all, would not be revolutionary.

8.14 p.m.


The last two hon. Members who have spoken have fallen into the error of speaking of the towns and of forgetting the country. They also made the error of presuming that a delivery of newspapers can be done in about five minutes. I can speak from personal knowledge' of the country. A boy has to go to the station to fetch the newspapers at five a.m., and he takes them back to the shop. They then have to be sorted, and it takes the boy three hours to get round the countryside delivering the papers. If we put the hour at six o'clock, the last customer would not get his paper until nine. The same thing applies in the case of bread. I know nothing about the bread trade, but all I can say is that a country round will take three or four hours, and sometimes five, whereas a town round will take only one and a-half hours. That is why I, speaking from a countryman's point of view, think it is necessary that the hour should be as early as five a.m.

It is absurd to talk as though the employment of young people at five a.m. is inimical to their health. A farm carter's boy has to be in the stable at five a.m. every morning. He cannot be there later. He has to help get the horses clean, fed, and ready, so that they can start to plough at seven. If he started work at six, ploughing could not start until eight, and that would be rather late to start. The health of these lads is not injured in the slightest, nor is that of the farmer's men. I remember that as a young chemist I had to get to the chemical works in London at 5.45 a.m. and work until six p.m. In order to do that I had to leave home at 4.30, for I lived nearly six miles away. I do not think it has injured me. All this nonsense about early hours injuring young people is a sheer bogey as long as they are not employed more than a certain number of hours during the day.

8.17 p.m.


Those who have listened to. the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland) will say that he has had no experience and has no knowledge of the subject about which he is talking. The baking industry has been spoken of by my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield), who has been connected with the industry all his life, and it. is unnecessary to say much more about it except to say to the hon. and gallant Member for Canterbury what I feel ought to be said to people who make speeches like his. There was an interjection from this side early in the Debate asking whether hon. Members would allow their own sons to get up at this time in the morning. One or two hon. Members on the other side appeared to be very upset that that kind of remark should be made. I suggest, however, that that is the practical test. Would they desire their own children to be at work at 5 o'clock in the morning for the purpose of supplying a newspaper to somebody living in the next street? I resent the sheer impudence of hon. Members who, because they are fortunately situated themselves, suggest that other people's children are not as good as theirs. That is the suggestion behind this Bill. Not a Member in the House would choose for his own boy of 16 or 17 a job where he had to start at 5 o'clock in the morning. It is pure impertinence on the part of any Member to suggest that the children of other people are less important than their own. I resent the suggestion very much.

I want to tell of my own experience of this newspaper business, and it is probably the experience of everyone who knows what happens in connection with newspapers. The newspaper trade never thought of this proposal. There was not a solitary newspaper seller in the country who made the slightest move towards getting this Clause inserted in the Bill until it was suggested by a newspaper that circulates among the newspaper selling trade. The circular that every Member of the House has received is printed, and on one side of it is an article from the newspaper that circulated it. Because that newspaper which circulates through the retail trade sent the circular to Members of the House, the retail trade and the Government have become frightened of the newspaper trade, and they are asking that the children of other people should get up at 4.30 in the morning in order to get to work at 5. An hon. Member opposite seemed surprised when somebody said that mothers must get up early in order to get their children to work at 5. I have had a pretty long and varied experience of getting up early. I am not boasting about it nor am I proud of it. I was glad to get away from it, and so would anybody else who had had the same experience. Because I have had that experience and know the effect of it on myself and those associated with me, I do not want to inflict it on other families. To say that mothers do not get up to get food for their children who are going out early is to say that mothers have no regard for their children. There is scarcely a mother who would allow her boy to go out early in the morning without making some provision for him in the early hours.

What is the need of making the hour so early as 5? There is no need for newspapers to get round at that time. We should perhaps be better if we did not get newspapers until 5 o'clock in the evening. We would certainly lose nothing if we did not get them at 5 in the morning. Three people sent to me the circular I have mentioned. It began, "As one of your constituents," but only two of them lived in my constituency. The other did not, though he thought he did. He had so little knowledge of his own local circumstances that he did not know the constituency in which he lived. Two other people who are my constituents approached me personally on the matter and begged me to do what I could to stop this Clause going through. They said they employed adults. There must be dozens of newspaper sellers in that area, but only two of them want the change which the Government are forcing on the baking trade and the newspaper industry. There are dozens of others who do not ask for it and do not want it, and at least two went out of their way to beg me in the interests of the decent newspaper sellers not to support a Clause which would force boys to go to work early in the morning. They said that it meant playing down to the worst sweaters in the business.

Until a very recent date, when the newspaper to which I have referred implored the newspaper retail trade to take this matter up, the trade was not interested in it and did not want it. The matter has only been raised because of the issue of this circular to Members of the House. Why do not the Government leave the Bill as it was? Why was there any need to introduce newspaper sellers into it at all, and to give the worst people in the trade an opportunity to sweat these young people to a still greater extent? I was surprised to hear the Under-Secretary say that these young people might lose their jobs. It would be a good thing if they did and if adults took their place. We are asking the Government to make this a job for adults. Would the Under-Secretary himself, or any Member of this House, refuse to follow the practice which, I understand, prevails in many parts of Scotland, and possibly in other places, of paying ld. a week for the delivery of the newspapers in order to enable adults to be employed instead of young people? This Clause means a definite worsening of conditions, and I hope the House will support the Amendment, and give the Minister some cause to think things over and an opportunity to make the necessary alteration in another place.

8.26 p.m.


May I appeal to the representative of the Home Office to tell us at whose instigation bread was included in this Clause? I have been connected with the bread trade for the whole of my life, and I can see no reason for bread being collected or delivered at five o'clock in the morning. As a, matter of fact, there is no collection of bread in the sense in which that term is generally used; it is not collected at railway stations like milk, but is made by the bakers themselves. As to delivery, who on earth wants bread at five o'clock in the morning or before six o'clock? The hotels do not need it, the shops are not open to receive it, private households do not want it, and it cannot be left on the doorstep as milk can be left. The hon. Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland) talked about starting work at five o'clock in the morning, and I have had similar experience, but times have changed and public opinion is not what it was 30 or 40 years ago. The whole of the Lancashire factories used to start at six o'clock in the morning—indeed, they used to start at four o'clock in the bad old days, and later at five o'clock; but the opening hour was six o'clock for 30 or 40 years. No factory, foundry, bleach works, or similar works opens at that hour now.

Everybody gets up later now. Whether that is a change for the better or the worse we are not here to discuss. We are here to look facts in the face, and, speaking with a lifetime's experience of the baking trade, I say there is no reason whatever for the collection or delivery of bread before six o'clock in the morning. I appeal to the Under-Secretary, who cannot know everything about every trade, to say that if he cannot accept this Amendment he will at least go into the whole question and find out why this Clause was inserted, and at whose instigation. I am sure it was not at the request of the master bakers or the operative bakers. I would like to emphasise one point, and that is that all the sympathy with the workers is not confined to the Labour benches. I do not say that Labour Members have ever made that claim. Some of us are as keen about the conditions and hours of labour as any hon. Member on the Labour benches. When one looks through the whole of the social legislation of this country, one finds that it redounds to the credit of the party to which I have the honour to belong, and when the Under-Secretary is introducing commendable legislation I do not want a blot of this character upon it. I appeal to the Home Office to go carefully into the question, and to be assured by a representative here of the operative bakers, and by another who knows the inside of the trade from the master bakers' point of view, that there is no need for bread to be included. I do not feel competent to express an opinion on whether it is necessary to include newspapers, but I do feel competent to speak about bread, and I appeal to the Under-Secretary to leave bread out.

8.30 p.m.


This question was discussed very fully in 'Committee upstairs and a vote was taken upon it, and I think I am right in saying that only three Members voted for the deletion of this Clause. It is quite obvious that, if we are to have newspapers delivered in time to be read at breakfast, the employés who meet the trains, take the newspapers to their offices, sort them and deliver them have got to start work at five o'clock in the morning. Some people say that stale news is worse than stale bread, and I believe it. I think it is true to say that the whole population would be up in arms if they were told that they could not get their papers until it was too late in the morning to read them.


Is it not a fact that it was not until after the Committee was sitting that hon. Mem bers received correspondence from certain newsagents about this matter—not until after something had been published about it in one of the papers of the newspaper trade? They had not thought about the matter till then.


I have no knowledge about that. All I know is that there was an Amendment upon the Paper, and that it seemed to be one which ought to have been included in the Bill. It was discussed in Committee and was voted upon, and it was agreed to include it, and I sincerely hope the Minister will stick to his guns and not take it out now. The hon. Member for Bolton, (Sir J. Haslam) said, very rightly, that hon. Members on this side of the House have as much sympathy with, and as much interest in the welfare of, young people as the Members on the Labour benches, who have no monopoly in that direction. The hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee) made a personal reference to my hon. Friend sitting behind him telling him that he did not know what he was talking about. To appeal to passion, emotion and sympathy instead of to logic and reason is no argument. I say that it is logic and reason to allow the young people who have got these jobs to keep them, and that it is not a hardship for them to start at five o'clock. It is agreed that at 14 years of age they can start at six o'clock, but at 16 years of age they cannot start at five o'clock, and that is illogical, and I hope the Minister will not give way to the argument.

8.34 p.m.


I think the Under-Secretary will regret having made so early and hasty an intervention in this Debate, because there have been so many speeches from supporters of the Government which cannot fail to have interested him. I want to express my sincere disappointment that he turned down so summarily the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) which incidentally involves the Amendment referring to newspapers to which my own name is attached. The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) dealt so faithfully with bread that I will confine what I have to say to newspapers. I was surprised to hear the speech of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Way- land). If he thinks it is just and proper to do so, he can denounce us on the ground that we use sentimental and humanitarian arguments; but to make his case good, he must prove that it is economically necessary to employ young persons at such an early hour in the morning under modern conditions.


I can easily do that.


The hon. Member says that he can easily do that. I dare-say, if he had the opportunity to speak again, that he would put a case, but I suggest that there is plenty of labour available, not of young persons, but of persons to whom it would do no injury to rise at this early hour in the morning. Economically, it is absolutely unnecessary to employ young persons at such an early hour.


May I ask the hon. Member what he would do, if he were a farmer, with regard to the training of young people, especially in the training of a lad to be a carter?


Training young lads to be farmers has nothing to do with the Bill, and I do not understand why the hon. Member has used that illustration. The Bill deals with young persons employed in shops. It may be necessary for farmers in certain circumstances to employ young people at early hours in the morning, although I do not think it is. The agricultural industry should be so reorganised as to employ older men to do the essential work; the young men could come in at a later hour, especially now that such splendid assistance is being given to agriculture by His Majesty's Government. There we will leave that point.

The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) has proved that there is no necessity for early employment in regard to the delivery of bread, and it is sought to get out of the difficulty by inserting the words, "collection and delivery," to make the case good. That has already been disproved. The provision as to newspapers was not in the original Bill, because the Government did not think it necessary, but an Amendment, moved in Committee was accepted, I think very hastily, by the right hon. Gentleman who was at that time the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department. I thought that he accepted it without proper consideration. Since the Committee Stage of the Bill, we have conducted an investigation in the matter of the delivery of newspapers, and just as it has been clearly shown by the hon. Member for Wednesbury that there is no need of the provision in the Bill in regard to the delivery of bread, so the facts that we have collected show equally conclusively that there is no need for the provision in regard to newspapers.

I will give the House certain of the facts which we have collected, and I will name certain places. In Bath, the ages of the lads employed are between 14 and 15 and the hours are from 7 a.m. to 8.30 a.m. In Bristol, the hour is 6.30 a.m. In Crewe, probably because it is a very important railway junction, the hour is 4.30 a.m. In Eastbourne, it is from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. In some parts of London it is only 7 a.m. In Nottingham—I have some interest in Nottingham because I represent a Nottingham constituency—young persons up to school-leaving age are prohibited at an hour earlier than 7 a.m. In some cases there are local by-laws to that effect. The result of the investigation shows that there is no necessity to bring newspapers under this provision between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. That is not clone now in most instances, and all that this proposal is doing is to hold out a bait to the worst form of employer and to say to him, "Within the provisions of this Clause you can, if you like, employ young persons as early as 5 o'clock in the morning." Although that is not done in the majority of instances now, some hon. Members seem to want to encourage it. I cannot understand why such a blot should be left on the Bill which is, in many ways, a progressive Measure and does things which are wholly admirable. The provision in regard to newspapers was an afterthought, and all the facts go to prove that there is no necessity for it. I ask the Under-Secretary to reconsider the statement which he has made, and, if he cannot accept the deletion proposed by the hon. Member for Westhoughton, let him at any rate accept a proposal to delete the provision as to newspapers.

8.41 p.m.


I feel very strongly on this proposal because I look upon it as retrograde. I have personal knowledge of the fight that we put up to depart from the 6 o'clock start and to substitute 8 o'clock for adult industrial workers. The proposal now made considerably perturbs me. I regret the suggestion that our attitude is one of mere sentiment. It is not mere sentiment, although I am never ashamed of being sentimental on matters such as this. I regret that I was unable to put this point during the Committee stage. The Under-Secretary of State drew my attention to the proposal which he was going to make for the inclusion of the words "collection and delivery of." I have not thought the matter out, but I am not sure that we ought not to divide against that also, because it is widening the original provision. If the provision is to be applied to bread and newspapers, as suggested, and is to cover collection, why should it not include meat, vegetables and all things in the market?

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Dennis Herbert)

The hon. Gentleman is now anticipating a later Amendment.


I was enđeavouring to combat the proposal to widen the scope of the Clause, but I see that I was going beyond the bounds of the discussion. I have had experience in this matter, as I have delivered bread in Scotland and I have delivered newspapers and milk. That was in the days when the hour at which it was customary to start was 6 o'clock. The people to whom I had to deliver those commodities were never out of bed. We have now departed from the 6 o'clock start, and the 8 o'clock start is general. Therefore, I do not look with pleasure upon the proposal for a 5 o'clock start. It has been stated that the young people will go outside into the open air. Yes, out before 5 a.m. in all weathers, winter as well as summer. In my own case I was reasonably well clothed, but others were not so well clothed, when going out in the early morning to deliver those commodities. It is not fair to relate such conditions of employment to those experienced upon going into industry as the Under-Secretary has done. An early start in industry means indoors or under shelter—far different conditions from out in cold wet weather. We are entitled to take up the attitude which we have adopted.

8.45 p.m.


I do not desire to detain the House for more than about two minutes, but I should like to put as briefly as possible the case for the early delivery of newspapers. So far as I can see, no case has been made out for the early delivery of bread, but I would point out that, while the collection of newspapers may take place at five o'clock, or possibly somewhat later, because the young person employed may have to go to the shop and get an order, by the time he returns to the shop it is somewhere between five and half-past, and the papers have then to be sorted out and handed to those who are going to deliver them. An average round in London and the suburbs —I speak from experience—takes about two hours, and, if the papers are got ready by a quarter to six, it is a quarter to eight before people living at the end of the round get their papers. I would ask hon. Members to consider the 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 people in London and Greater London who have to come from the suburbs into London, and who want their papers by seven o'clock or a very little later. I yield to no one in my desire to look after the young people, but I believe that the early delivery of newspapers has become a necessity for people living in London and its suburbs; I cannot speak for other great towns in the North. If the hour is put forward to six o'clock, it will mean that the papers are not delivered until half-past seven, eight, or even half-past eight, and that would be a great inconvenience to people living in London and the suburbs.

8.47 p.m.


The hon. and gallant Member for North Islington (Colonel Goodman) has spoken as though at the present time it was the practice for young people to start work on the delivery of newspapers at five o'clock in the morning, and as though, if our Amendment were carried, that practice would be upset. But the case is quite different. There are no young people starting work at five in the morning to deliver newspapers to the great population in London to whom the hon. and gallant Member refers. The earliest time of which we have any evidence is six, or half-past six, or seven, and the greater part of the work is done at seven o'clock and later. That is why we are so opposed to this retrograde step of advancing the time when there has been no demand for it and it is not done now.


With all respect to the hon. Member, I must say that my experience is that in the great majority of cases delivery of papers in the suburbs of London now commences shortly after five, and in only a very few cases as late as half-past five.


There seems to be a difference between us on a matter of fact, but the figures supplied to us by those best qualified to speak for the workers in this industry are as has been stated. I myself live in a working-class suburb of London, and I know that, if I have to be away particularly early in the morning, I have to go without my newspaper, for it is not customary to deliver newspapers at that early hour.


You must be at the end of the round.


If this Amendment be carried, it will not disturb the existing practice, but it will prevent the encouragement of the employment of young people at a still earlier hour than is now the case. The hon. and gallant

Member spoke as though, if the Amendment were carried, it would not be possible to deliver newspapers at five in the morning in the special ease of the particularly early morning worker who wants to read his "Daily Herald" on his way to work, and he would be deprived by our Amendment of getting that tonic with which to start the day. That is not the case, because the newsagent who wishes to supply this special class of worker can employ a person over 18 to do the work, and I am sure that no one would complain if somebody over 18 got a job on this work instead of a boy who really ought to be in bed. It is a retrograde step for the Home Office, in a Bill of this kind, to make the hours at which young people are permitted to start work still earlier than the current practice. It will act as an encouragement, and it is entirely unnecessary.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to ' in ' in line 16, stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 201; Noes, 49.

Division No. 331.] AYES [8.55 p.m
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Eastwood, John Francis Kerr, Hamilton W.
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Ellis. Sir R. Geoffrey Knox, Sir Alfred
Albery, Irving James Elmley, Viscount Law, Sir Alfred
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd) Emrys-Evans, P. V. Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)
Aske. Sir Robert William Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Leckle, J. A.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Ganzonl, Sir John Leech, Dr. J. W.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Gillett, Sir George Masterman Lees-Jones, John
Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Goff, Sir Park Levy, Thomas
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Liddall, Walter S.
Bicker, Sir Reginald Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Lindsay. Noel Ker
Boulton, W. W. Greene, William P. C. Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest
Broadbent, Colonel John Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. Liewellin, Major John J.
Brown. Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Gunston, Captain D. W. Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hanbury, Cecil Loftus, Pierce C.
Butt, Sir Alfred Harbord, Arthur Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.
Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Harvey, George (Lambeth,Kenningt'n) Lyons, Abraham Montagu
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon. Totnes) Mabane, William
Carmen, Arthur Cecil Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)
Christle, James Archibald Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. McCorquodale, M. S.
Clarry, Reginald George Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. McKie, John Hamilton
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hepworth. Joseph McLean, Major Sir Alan
Cochrane. Commander Hon. A. D. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Colfox, Major William Philip Hornby, Frank Macmillan, Maurice Harold
Conant. R. J. E. Horobin, Ian M. Macquisten, Frederick Alexander
Cook. Thomas A. Horsbrugh, Florence Manning ham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.
Cooper, A. Duff Howard, Tom Forrest Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Courtauld, Major John Sewell Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Marsden, Commander Arthur
Courthops, Colonel Sir George L. Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Martin, Thomas B.
Crooke, J. Smedley Hume. Sir George Hopwood Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Galnsb'ro) Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)
Cross, R. H. Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Mitcheson, G. G.
Crossley, A. C. James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) Jennings, Roland Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Jesson, Major Thomas E. Morning, Adrian C.
Dawson, Sir Philip Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Morgan, Robert H.
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)
Doran, Edward Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Moss, Captain H. J.
Drewe, Cedric Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Munro, Patrick
Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West) Nall, Sir Joseph
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N. Ker, J. Campbell Nail-Cain, Hon. Ronald
Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Rosbotham, Sir Thomas Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
O'Donovan, Dr. William James Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Tate, Mavis Constance
Orr Ewing, I. L. Runge, Norah Cecil Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Palmer, Francis Noel Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Thompson, Sir Luke
Pearson, William G. Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tside) Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Penny, Sir George Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Thorp, Linton Theodore
Percy, Lord Eustace Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp') Todd, Lt.-Col. A..J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Potter, John Salmon, Sir Isidore Todd, A. L, S. (Kingswinford)
Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Train, John
Pownall, Si Assheton Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Pybus, Sir Percy John Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard Turton, Robert Hugh
Radford, E. A. Scone, Lord Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Ralkes, Henry V. A. M. Selley, Harry R. Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar) Wayland, Sir William A.
Ranosbotham, Herwald Simmonds, Oliver Edwin Wells, Sydney Richard
Ramsden, Sir Eugene Slater, John Whyte, Jardine Bell
Ranki[...]. Robert Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Rawson, Sir Cooper Somervell, Sir Donald Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Ray, Sir William Somerville, D, G. (Willesden, East) Wills, Wilfrid D.
Reid, William Allan (Derby) Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E. Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George
Renwick, Major Gustav A. Southby, Commander Archibald R. J. Withers, Sir John James
Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Spencer, Captain Richard A. Worthington, Dr. John V.
Rickards, George William Stones, James
Robinson, John Roland Strauss, Edward A. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Ropner, Colonel L. Sutter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F. Captain Sir George Bowyer and Dr. Morris-Jones.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Parkinson, John Allen
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Rathhone, Eleanor
Attlee, Clement Richard Griffiths, George A. (Yorks,W.Riding) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Banfield, John William Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A.(C'thmess)
Batey, Joseph Groves, Thomas E. Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Bernays, Robert Grundy, Thomas W. Thorne, William James
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Tinker, John Joseph
Clarke, Frank Jenkins, Sir William West, F. R.
Cove, William G. John, William White. Henry Graham
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams. Edward John (Ogmore)
Daggar, George Leonard, William Williams, Dr. John H. (Lianelly)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Logan, David Gilbert Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lunn, William Wilmot, John
Dickle, John P. McEntee, Valentine L.
Edwards, Charles Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) TELLERS FOR TEM NOES.—
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.) Mainwaring, William Henry Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. D. Graham.
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Mallalieu. Edward Lancelot
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Milner, Major James

Amendment made: In page 3, line 16, after "employed" insert "during that hour."—[Captain Crookshank.]


I beg to move, in page 3, line 16, after "the" to insert "collection or."

This is merely to clarify our intention. It has always been intended, in the case of some newspapers particularly, to mean going to the station, getting them from

the train, taking them to the shop and beginning the delivery.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, in page 3, line 17, to leave out "or newspapers."

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 207; Noes, 52.

Amendment made: in page 3, line 17, leave out "during that hour.— [Captain Crookshank.]