§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 11.8 a.m.
§ Mr. AMMON
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
It would be difficult to say how many times this Motion has been moved for a Bill so entitled. I saw by an article in the Press yesterday that a similar Bill has been introduced in this House every year for the past 25 years, and in a Debate that took place a short time ago the hon. Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle) said that during the 16 years that he had been in this House it had been introduced at least once every year. Anyway, that is an indication that the Bill has been before the House a good many times, and that there is a strong feeling in the country that something should be done in this particular connection. Now, by the luck of the Ballot, the Bill becomes a twice-yearly Bill, and I hope that this will be the last time it will have to be brought before the House, and that it will get a Second Reading on this occasion.
The Bill is very similar in all respects to the Measure which was brought before the House in March last, and it is a good thing perhaps that it comes so soon, because it affords an early opportunity to note the effect of the legislation which was foreshadowed by the Home Office in the last Debate, and which, no doubt, influenced a good many Members in the way they cast their votes on that occasion. It is worthy of note that many hon. Members who voted against that Bill had, during the Debate, expressed themselves as entirely in accord with the need for the Bill and the provisions it contained. Although it is a little difficult sometimes to reconcile a statement like that and subsequent votes in the other direction, no doubt they were more or less influenced by the expectation that the Home Office was going to make a statement which would, at any rate, render it unnecessary again to discuss this matter. The fact that we have now to bring the Bill before the House is an indication that, in a large measure, the proposals and suggestions made by the 1534 Under-Secretary on the last occasion do not by any means fill the gap in this very necessary legislation.
We were told that the Public Health Act, which was then under consideration for purposes of consolidation, would very largely meet the needs that were declared in the Bill itself. The absurdity of the Public Health Act, to a large extent in this connection, is that it has no relation whatever to London or to Scotland, places where, if anywhere, there is the greatest need possible for legislation with regard to office control and supervision. There are one or two useful provisions which one should review. For instance, it contains a very useful definition as to work-place, which is so drawn as to include office. It also lays down that local authorities now have the right of entering, but—let it be observed—not in London, where industry has been growing at a very much greater rate than anywhere else and where office accommodation by virtue of London being the capital City of commerce and industry must be a very much greater problem than it is elsewhere. It is one thing to have an Act on the Statute Book and another thing altogether to make it operative.
Although it is true that in the last Debate the Minister now in charge said that Section 208 of the Consolidation Act would, to a large extent, overcome many of the difficulties and make the Act operative, it does not do anything of the sort, for the simple reason that unless the Government take some steps to give the Ministry of Health permission to oring pressure upon local authorities to see that this is carried out, it is likely to be a dead letter. Let it be noted that there are only 404 full-time sanitary inspectors for the whole 29 boroughs of London, including the City of London itself. When one thinks that they have to serve something like 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 people, with all the various ramifications of different industries, offices, docks, slaughterhouses and so on, it will be seen that that is not an adequate number of sanitary inspectors to carry out the necessary work.
More than anything else, this Bill is pressed forward in the hope that legislation similar to that which now applies to factories and is so well carried out, as everybody is willing to testify, by the 1535 Home Office inspectors, may be extended in regard to office workers. There are numbers of large firms and large concerns where office conditions are everything that can be desired, but, unfortunately, there are always a large number of people who do not take that view with regard to the health and well-being of their employes, and who will do nothing in order that profit may remain the paramount consideration. It is because they are in such increasing numbers that it is essential and necessary that this Bill should be considered. It is not the slightest good, as I and other hon. Members observed in the last Debate, to ask why these people do not make complaints. It is obvious, as the hon. Member for St. Albans said, that they dare not make complaints for fear of victimisation. Under the very conditions of their work they are very often in much closer contact with their employers, or with the managerial staff, than is the case in regard to employes in factory or workshops. They are also often in small numbers and are not well organised. To a large extent, also, probably due to a certain snobbery among themselves, they have deprived themselves of the very effective machinery that obtains in other walks of life for canalising their complaints. Therefore, this House must take steps to stand between these people and their conditions and see that they are properly cared for, not only in their own interests, but in the interests of the community and of our industrial organisation generally.
The importance of this necessary legislation is emphasised when one notes that there are 4,250,000 persons concerned. That is a tremendous slice of our industrial workers, and it is becoming increasingly important because of the great changes that are taking place in our industrial life. By the development of industry on modern lines, mechanisation and rationalisation, it is now taking 12 people to sell the article which one person manufactures. Therefore the salaried side and those engaged in office work is increasing in much higher ratio than the purely operative side, and we have to consider the large balance of workers who are contained within the ambit of this Bill, or what we call the black-coated workers. Some figures were supplied a little time ago by the Minister. I also 1536 note from a book on "National Income" by Mr. Colin Clark, that the number of salary earners increased 60 per cent. between 1907 and 1924, whereas there was a decrease in regard to operative workers. The Minister himself in a discussion a little while ago said that between 1921 and 1937 the total number of the employed population had increased by 10 per cent. while the number of clerical workers had increased by 38 per cent. Those figures show how increasingly important the position is becoming, and that in the wheel of industrial organisation we have to recognise the greater number of the black-coated workers who are now being employed. It is, therefore, increasingly important that every attention should be given to this question.
The case for the Bill is mainly concentrated on health grounds. On that subject the Minister had something to say in the last Debate. This Debate has followed rather quickly on the other, and I should like to comment on what the Minister said, because there is not much opportunity to reply to the Minister when he has made his winding-up speech. Commenting on the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) who moved the Second Reading of the Bill on 13th March, the Minister said:I should like to point out that there are other indoor workers who, unfortunately, have an even higher tuberculosis mortality. I am not saying this in order to minimise the seriousness of the figure relating to office workers, but to try to find out whether it is right to ascribe it to office conditions. We see that the percentage for tailors and cutters and textile warehousemen is a good deal higher than for office workers. I think the hon. Member will appreciate my point. His argument is that this rate is due to the conditions under which the office workers are employed.—[OFFICIAL REPORT: 13th March, 1936; col. 2557, Vol. 309.] An argument like that is utterly fallacious, having regard to the question in dispute. In the first place, it does not compare like with like. Moreover, it lays itself open to the obvious comment that if it were not for the very stringent regulations to which the Minister bore testimony, the rate of mortality and the incidence of poor health would be very much higher in these industries than at the present time. The fact that the office workers have such a very high rate holds the field, and has to be considered on its own merits.
1537 Let me quote my one experience in this connection. The other day I came across a book by Charles Garland on "The Fight Against Consumption." Mr. Garland was a senior colleague of mine when I was in the Post Office service. We became allied in the fight then necessary against the dreadful office and other accommodation for workers in the Post Office. So bad were those conditions that consumption was almost epidemic, and there were considerable discussions in this House on the matter. One result was that there was set up what was known as the Post Office Sanatorium Society, which has established a number of excellent sanatoria. Also, the National Sanatorium Association ranged itself on the side of the Post Office workers. That campaign has had this result, that there is now nothing to complain of in that direction, and tuberculosis has gradually been stamped out from the Post Office service. Let it be remembered that those people were selected lives, and the rate of mortality was very high among them, admittedly because of bad office accommodation.
When I went to the Admiralty in 1924 the Fourth Sea Lord, Admiral Boyd, took me down to the quarters where the clerks were working and said that he had for many years taken the opportunity of showing the Parliamentary Secretary the existing conditions, remarking: "I do not know of a forecastle in the very worst ship that sails the sea that is in a worse condition than the places in which these men have to work." I am glad to say that those conditions have been remedied. The position of the ordinary clerical worker to-day is comparable with that of the Post Office and Admiralty workers in those days, but in their case they have not a political chief who has a stirring of conscience, they are lacking in organisation, and they have not the same opportunity of their conditions being ventilated on the Floor of this House. The condition of affairs in regard to these office workers is now just as it was then.
The Bill is drawn on the lines of the Shops Act, 1934. Some of the Clauses are drawn in general terms to allow of interpretation by the Home Office, in the same way as is done in regard to other offices. In those circumstances, I hope that we shall not have the sort of speeches which were made on the last 1538 occasion when a very serious matter was treated with an amount of flippancy discreditable to the speakers and not reflecting very creditably on the House itself. There is very little in the Bill which is not already in the Shops Act, 1934. I have compared it Clause by Clause with that Act, and in fact some of the. Clauses appear to be lifted bodily out of that Act, which means that the Government have already accepted the principle of the Bill. The recommendations of the Select Committee on the Shops Act, 1931, has also been kept in mind in framing the Bill, and if hon. Members will look through it they will find nothing to which the Government can object, having regard to the measure which they themselves brought in dealing with people employed in retail and other establishments.
§ Mr. AMMON
It is a reprint of the previous Bill, and the interruption of the hon. Member shows that he knows nothing of the Shops Act, 1934.
§ Mr. AMMON
This is not the Bill of 1934. It came before the House in March last, and it runs parallel with the Shops Act, 1934. Some of the Clauses have been lifted bodily from that Act because they deal with the same conditions of employment. That is an additional argument why the House should accept it, and why the Minister should be able to say that the Government are going to give it an opportunity for further consideration. I am prepared to admit that there may be something in the drafting of the Measure which needs amendment. The place to do that is in Committee. It is not only necessary we should have it, laid down that there should be factory inspection, but I hope 1539 we shall establish something like a code for office workers, a standard of hygiene and office space, just as in the Factory Acts, which the Home Office can lay down in the light of their wide experience. The Bill falls into two parts, first, health and sanitation; secondly, the employment of young persons. On a previous occasion some hon. Members seemed to find something to ridicule in the term "young person," but it is a term which is used in our legislation and refers to those between the ages of 14 and 18 years. Provisions are made with regard to them. I am not proposing to bring before the House many examples of bad conditions, but I will quote one not as a bad example, but because it shows how a business with a high reputation, and a deservedly high reputation for looking after its workers, can in time of stress slip into a certain amount of slackness which may not be known to the heads of the business but from which their employés suffer.I see by this morning's Press that you are introducing the Offices Regulation Bill on Friday nest. May I state my own problem? My daughter left school a year or two ago, and with the help and recommendation of a friend of mine became a lady clerk in the Prudential Assurance Company. We had heard that the work was interesting and the housing conditions healthy, and thought we were wise in placing her there. She was given her work, not in the main building but in what is called the Approved Society part of the establishment. She has to deal chiefly with grants for dental work. For a while things were not too bad. The clerks work in a room in continual artificial light, the ventilation being provided by windows so arranged that when opened the girls' papers blow in all directions, the result being that more often than not the windows, most of them, are shut. Gradually the work in this department has become so heavy that more and more clerks have been put into this room, until now I believe the number is 57. By middle afternoon the air of this room is so fetid that their heads are reeling and my daughter has before now had to plunge her head into cold water to get relief from the room going round and round. Last spring the work was so great that to keep pace with it late nights were compulsory, sometimes t[...]ree a week without option of refusal. The net result of all this was that in the summer of this year the doctor pronounced my daughter very run down.I do not quote that as a horrible example. I want to pay my testimony, as I know from my own practical knowledge, that this particular organisation 1540 does give excellent office conditions to its employes and that they work under the most ideal conditions. But if a big firm like that can momentarily slip into this sort of thing, how much more likely is it that firms who have less concern for their employés, on a much smaller scale, will suffer conditions perpetually to exist which are much worse than this. There are two other letters I want to quote which, from my point of view, are more valuable, because they are not ex parte statements, and are not concerned with persons who are directly concerned with industry. The first comes from a headmistress. She writes to me as one whose concern is for the number of young people who are being turned out of our secondary schools and go into offices under conditions such as to undermine their health, thus wasting all the money that has been spent on their education. She writes as follows:I write to assure you of the earnest desire of my Association that the provisions of this Bill should become law. A very large number of girls from the secondary schools, now over 600, which my Association represents, proceed to work in offices of one type or another. Conditions in some of these offices are excellent, but in others they are indifferent, or even really bad. As you know there may be overcrowding, sometimes in underground rooms, lack of ventilation and inadequate sanitary accommodation. The last-mentioned defect is particularly noticeable in offices originally designed for men only, but in which now young women and girls also work. In many of these the conditions are such as to affect the health of these young workers, often to a serious degree. It is clear that, as such conditions obtain, further legal protection for young persons is required. My Association, which knows the need, trusts that you will be successful in your efforts to convince Members of Parliament that it exists.The other letter comes from the headmistress of one of the best-known secondary schools in London, and she has given me permission to quote it. The headmistress of the Mary Datchelor School, one of the best-known and best-organised secondary schools that we have in London, says:So many girls go from a school of this type into clerical employment, and, although so many of them work now under good conditions, it is still true that the conditions in many offices are deplorably unhealthy and insanitary. I have had within my own personal knowledge cases of breakdown in health due entirely to this fact. One of the saddest of these cases was that of a girl, whose health record here had been perfectly satisfactory, who developed 1541 tuberculosis and died, directly as a result of the conditions under which she was then working in a city office. I do wish you all success in your campaign.I suggest that these people have no axe to grind in this connection. They are concerned about the health and wellbeing of the young people who are placed under their charge and whom they are training to be good citizens later on. Therefore, I submit this Bill to the House in all confidence that hon. Members, remembering it is a Private Member's day, will take their courage in their hands, as they did on Friday last, and vote for a Bill which has been admitted on all sides, even by the Minister himself, to be a good Bill and one concerning conditions which have need for improvement. I hope hon. Members will show in no uncertain manner that they are concerned about these young office workers whose numbers are rapidly increasing as conditions are now developing. The best of our young manhood and young womanhood are being sent to work under conditions which, as has been indicated by the headmistress of the Mary Datchelor School, are undermining and ruining their health. It is appalling that we should spend millions of money in giving secondary education to our young people and then send them to work in conditions which in a very few years will render them in effective as industrial units, thus absolutely wasting all the money that is being spent and all the care and thought given to them in that connection by this House and other bodies.
I would like in my last words to refer back a good many years to a similar campaign with which I was connected when I was in the Post Office service. I recall to mind many able and fine men who entered the service, who gradually broke up under the conditions in which they had to work and who went to a wretched, premature and miserable death. That is being repeated to-day in offices throughout the country. The Minister admitted something to that effect in the Debate last March. He admitted it tacitly by the suggestion that when the Consolidation Act came into being, it would go a long way to remove those conditions. That Act, however, does not provide either for London or for Scotland, where things are most pressing and improved conditions most necessary. In 1542 placing these facts before the House, I have tried to do so calmly and without heat, for the matter is one that calls for calm and deliberate consideration. I hope this will be the last occasion on which it is necessary for any hon. Member to bring this Bill before the House, and that in a very short time we shall see it placed on the Statute Book.
§ 11.40 a.m.
§ Mr. RAIKES
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now", and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."
I would like to express my appreciation of the way in which the hon. Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) moved this Bill. As he said, he has done it without heat, and he has done it with obvious sincerity which is appreciated on this side of the House as much as on the other side. I think this is a matter which requires very careful consideration on all sides of the House, because conditions in offices are every year affecting a larger and larger percentage of our population. At the outset I would like to say that it is an astounding thing, in view of the Debate last March, the statement then made by the Under-Secretary and the vote then taken on the assumption that the House wanted to see how the new Public Health Act would work, that this Bill should have been submitted again long before it is possible to obtain any useful data from that Act. The hon. Member for North Camberwell waived that Act aside by saying that it does not apply to London and Scotland. The House was perfectly aware of that last March, and it was stated in the course of the Debate by my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams).
That Act does not apply to London and to Scotland because it is the practice for separate Bills to be produced for London and Scotland. In point of fact, when an alteration of the law is made on the lines of the Public Health Act, subsequent alteration in legislation is always made in the other districts not covered by it in the first instance. I venture to suggest that the hon. Member's argument was no argument, in view of the fact that the House knew that it would be a case of subsequent legislation in regard to London and Scotland. 1543 Further to that, I would like to quote a few words from the speech made by the Under - Secretary in that Debate, because I agree with the hon. Member for North Camberwell that the Under-Secretary's speech did probably influence the House more than anything else. The hon. Gentleman pointed out that the Public Health Act would in many cases clarify the law, and he went on to say that under it the whole question of offices would come under the observation of inspectors. He then said:After the inspectors have been carryout systematic inspections under the local authorities for some time, there will be gradually accumulated a body of knowledge in regard to the real conditions in offices which will probably secure a rather general measure of agreement if abuses really come to life which are serious enough to demand further legislation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th March, 1936; col. 2562, Vol. 309.]The view adopted by the Government was that, on the whole, the existing legislation could be made to work, and the object of the Public Health Act 1936, was to clarify tie existing legislation and make it plain to local authorities. It was said, in effect, "We believe that it can be made to work, and that at the end of a year or 18 months we shall be in a position, as a result of the inspections under the Act, to examine more closely conditions in offices at the present time, and find out more about the question than is known at the present time." In view of the vote of the House at that time, and in view of the fact that there has not been time to allow the Public Health Act to produce any results, I think there is a conclusive argument against producing a similar Bill within a year. I do not, however, leave it at that. I want to deal with the provisions under the existing law, particularly in regard to Clause 1 of the Bill, which is the central and principal Clause. Sub-section (1) says:The following provisions shall apply to every office as defined by this Act: —
Paragraphs (a) and (b) are already definitely covered by the Public Health Acts. The Act of 1875 in Section 91 1544 provides that any premises which are in such a state as to be a nuisance or in jurious to health shall be dealt with summarily in the manner provided by that Act. Section 40 of the same Act lays is down that every local authority shall provide that all drains, waterclosets, earthclosets, privies, ashpits and cesspools within their district be constructed and kept so as not to be a nuisance or injurious to health.
- (a) It shall be kept in a cleanly state;
- (b) It shall be kept free from effluvia arising from any drain, watercloset, earthcloset, privy, urinal or other nuisance."
§ Mr. RAIKES
I shall deal in a moment with the question of premises generally. I should think that under the existing law even without the Public Health Act, there is power of entry although in many cases that power of entry has not been used to the full extent. Section 102 of the Act of 1875 provides that the officers of a local authority shall be admitted at certain hours into any premises for the purpose of examining as to the existence of any nuisance thereon and under Section 91 local authorities can deal with any premises which are in such a state as to be a nuisance or injurious to health. The words "any premises" in that Act must cover offices as well as factories. If the hon. Member opposite is doubtful as to what is covered by the word "workplace" on which there was a certain amount of argument I would refer him to the Consolidation Act where I think he will find that his point is definitely covered. I think I can quote the relevant passage—
§ Mr. RAIKES
If it is defined in the Public Health Act which has just come into operation, then I think it is quite certain that the Public Health Acts of 1875 and 1890 do cover workplaces. I think there can be no difference of opinion on that. We now come to paragraph (c) in this Sub-section which deals with overcrowding, and I confess I am rather surprised at the figure of 400 cubic feet per person being laid down as a standard. Under the Factory Acts the standard is 250, and there is a greater degree of physical exertion required from persons working in factories who thereby use more air than persons sitting in offices. I submit that to adopt a standard 1545 of 400 cubic feet per person would at once, and automatically, close a considerable number of die best offices in London. I shall leave my hon. Friend who is to second the Amendment to deal more closely with that point merely adding that, even if the rest of the Bill were sound, that one provision would vitiate it and prevent it working satisfactorily. We next come to paragraph (d) referring to ventilation and paragraph (e) referring to lighting. I may mention incidentally paragraph (f) which refers to a supply of pure drinking water. That is of importance, but is hardly a matter which requires legislation. Paragraph (g) refers to temperature and as regards the questions of lighting, ventilation and temperature, I am not prepared to say that these are, in definite terms, covered by past legislation. But I would refer hon. Members to the report of the Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health for 1934, in which it is stated:Examination has been made of complaints submitted over a period of time in representative large towns. The volume of complaints is limited. Most of the complaints are concerned with unsatisfactory, insanitary accommodation, defective drainage or such nuisances as offensive smells, accumulation of refuse, rats, etc. It is exceptional to find any reference to such matters as ventilation and light. It cannot be said from the evidence that the number and the type of complaints brought to notice reveal a very large number of serious defects.If that means anything, it means that the question of lighting and ventilation is not a burning question in offices in the view of the Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health. Paragraph (h), which deals with the provisions of suitable and sufficient sanitary conveniences, is a very proper provision to have in any Bill of this kind. At the same time, it is more or less covered by the Public Health Act, 1890, Section 22, of which provides that every building used as a workshop or manufactory, where people are employed or intended to be employed in any number, shall be provided with sufficient and suitable accommodation in this respect. Although it was an adoptive Section, that would not prevent it being compulsorily applied without a Bill of this character.
We now come to the real argument in favour of the Bill which is, I think, that although there is a right of entry at 1546 present, that right of entry is not sufficiently made use of by local authorities, or indeed by medical officers of health at various times and in various places. I am prepared to accept the view that it has not been made full use of because, if it had been fully used, I venture to say that the law would have covered practically every one of the cases which have been cited by hon. Members, in support of legislation of this kind from 1934 to the present, in regard to bad conditions.
There is one thing which the Public Health Act does. It makes it plain, in very clear language, under Section 287, that public authorities are expected to examine and to enter on premises. I hate long quotations, but under Sub-section (1) of that Section it is stated that a local authority hasa right to enter any premises at all reasonable hours—(a) for the purpose of ascertaining whether there is, or has been, on or in connection with the premises any contravention of the provisions of this Act…Paragraph (b) states:for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not circumstances exist which would authorise or require the council to take any action, or execute any work, under this Act …I think we are all agreed that there is a very considerable right of entry laid down in that Act, and not only so, but it is also clear that it is not a question of local authorities being asked to come in simply because there happens to have been some casual complaint made to them. I agree that if the local authorities were only to act on casual complaints, it is very difficult for workpeople to make such complaints if it means that they will very likely lose their bread and butter, and I think every sensible man or woman knows that. So long as local authorities in the past have been inclined to wait for complaints, the law in many cases has not acted, owing to the latitude of those who ought to have enforced it, but that is not an argument for the necessity of this Bill. It is an argument in favour of making your existing laws act, first of all, and if you start by enacting new laws while your present legislation is not being enforced, you will have a difficult problem before you in the future.
I would like to make one more quotation in regard to the right of entry, though I am afraid I have wearied the 1547 House with too many quotations Dr. Willoughby, Medical Officer of Health for the City of London, made this statement before the Select Committee on Shop Assistants:I am convinced that 85 per cent. of the difficulties could be overcome simply by giving powers of entry and inspection. You can transform a shop from the class which is referred to as bad into a first-class shop simply by inspection.What you can do in regard to shops, you can do in regard to offices. We have before us the knowledge that when the House passed the Public Health Act, the Government gave the promise that offices would be placed under inspection and that it would be made plain to local authorities that they would be expected to carry out their duties under the various Acts. I say, in conclusion, that for this reason, and in view of the fact that you have this new Act on the Statute Book, it would be absurd to pass into law a Bill which is unnecessary from the point of view of legislation if the Acts of Parliament which at present are in being are operated, and a Bill designed to pass into operation within six months, practically speaking, of its last defeat, when it was defeated on the assurance to the House that the new Public Health Act would give Members an opportunity of examining what the true situation was.
§ 12 n.
§ Mr. WAKEFIELD
I beg to second the, Amendment.
I do so, not because I am out of sympathy with the objects of the Bill—indeed, to improve the amenities of office workers must commend itself to all—but because I believe that all the powers needed to obtain adequate sanitation, ventilation, light, space, and the other conditions and amenities which are so necessary, whether in the office or the factory, or even in recreation places or homes, already exist in one form or another on the Statute Book. Hon. Members opposite from time to time make a habit, and quite properly, of extending sympathy to those who work in factories, offices, and elsewhere, and they suggest that we on this side, while perhaps expressing sympathy, yet do not put that sympathy into action.
I think the work of the Government during the past few years and the legis- 1548 lation which it is proposed to enact during the forthcoming Session show that the Government, and we on this side, have practical intentions as well as sympathies. You have only to remember the great drive that has been made in housing and slum clearance, and the various Acts put on the Statute Book to improve health and conditions in a variety of ways, to see that that is the case. You have only to refer to the Gracious Speech and the undertaking in it with regard to the present law regulating conditions of work in factories, and that it is proposed to undertake and carry through the amendment and consolidation of the Public Health Act, 1901. Further, may I remind hon. Members of those other statements in the Gracious Speech that it is intended to develop the existing public health services and to introduce legislation for medical care for young persons. All those Acts and all this proposed legislation show that not only is there sympathy, but a very real determination to improve the conditions of everybody in this country.
When this Bill was brought up earlier this year, doubt was expressed, on the one hand, as to whether it applied to offices and, on the other hand, as to whether there was adequate power of entry. My hon. Friend the Member for South East Essex (Mr. Raikes) gave a very lucid exposition of the present situation and has, I think, conclusively shown that the new Public Health Consolidation Act which was put on the Statute Book last Session completely satisfies any doubts which may have been expressed upon that score on the last occasion. I would like to quote, with the permission of the House, very extensively from this Act and to make references to the proposed Bill and how all the Clauses in it are indeed covered by this Act. I do not see how it is possible otherwise to deal with this question in the way in which it ought to be dealt with. Therefore, with the intention of showing hon. Members opposite how this Bill would be redundant legislation, I shall quote extensively from the Public Health Act. I will deal first with paragraph (c) of Clause 1 (1) of the Bill and I would ask hon. Members to turn to the Public Health Act, Section 92 (I, e). Paragraph (c) in the Bill says:It shall not be so overcrowded while work is carried on therein as to be dan- 1549 gerous or injurious to the health of the persons employed therein.It will be seen how this paragraph is covered by Section 92 (I, e) of the Public Health Act, which reads:Any factory, workshop or workplace"—my hon. Friend has shown how an office is completely covered and defined by "workplace"—which is not provided with sufficient means of ventilation, or in which sufficient ventilation is not maintained, or which is not kept clean or not kept free from noxious effluvia, or which is so overcrowded while work is carried on as to be prejudicial to the health of those employed therein…That paragraph is governed by section 91 of the Act, which says:It shall be the duty of every local authority to cause their district to be inspected from time to time for the detection of matters requiring to be dealt with under the provisions of this part of this Act as being statutory nuisances within the meaning of the next succeeding section.If any office or workplace is overcrowded it is a nuisance, and it is the duty of the local authority to inspect it and to see that the nuisance does not continue. I submit that the Public Health Act completely and adequately covers paragraph (c) of the Bill to which I have referred. I turn next to paragraph (d) of Clause 1 (1), which says:It shall he provided with suitable and sufficient means of ventilation and suitable and sufficient ventilation shall be maintained.Section 92 (I, e) of the Public Health Act, which I have quoted, deals with that point. We come next to paragraph (e) in the Bill. Section 92 (I, a) of the Public Health Act states that the local authority must take action where any premises are in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance. Both paragraph (e) and the succeeding paragraphs (f) and (g) in the Bill come within the ambit of the Public Health Act. I want to deal next with paragraph (h) in the Bill, which states:There shall be provided and maintained suitable and sufficient sanitary conveniences available for the use of all persons employed in or about the office.I would like to ask hon. Members opposite whether it is intended by that paragraph that there shall be separate accommodation for members of both sexes. It does not say so, but it seems to me that 1550 it is desirable that there should be separate accommodation.
§ Mr. AMMON
Perhaps the hon. Member will bear in mind that I quoted cases where offices which had formerly been used by men were not sufficient for women, and from that argument he will see that we consider there should be sufficient accommodation for both sexes. This paragraph says that it should be suitable and sufficient, and that covers the point.
§ Mr. WAKEFIELD
I thank the hon. Member for his explanation, but this Clause does not cover the point to anything like the degree in which it is covered by the Public Health Act. In Section 43 of that Act we see that in new buildings the authorities shall reject the plans unless it is shown that there is sufficient and satisfactory closet accommodation.
§ Mr. WAKEFIELD
I am coming to that in a moment. I am now pointing out that paragraph (h) in the Bill does not go nearly as far as the provision in the Public Health Act, and that in new buildings satisfactory closet accommodation must exist. The Act says that the authority shall reject the plans unless either the plans show that sufficient and satisfactory separate closet accommodation for persons of each sex are provided, or that the authorities are satisfied in the circumstances of the particular case they may dispense with the provision for separate accommodation. That gives definite instructions and guidance as to the action which local authorities should pursue in new buildings. In Section 44 we read that if it appears to a local authority that any building is without sufficient closet accommodation it shall be provided. Section 46 says:every building which is used as a factory, workshop or workplace shall be provided with sufficient and satisfactory accommodation in the way of sanitary conveniences, regard being had to the number of persons employed or in attendance at the building and also, where persons of both sexes are employed or in attendance, with sufficient and satisfactory separate accommodation for persons of each sex, unless the local authority are satisfied that in the circumstances of the particular case the provision of such separate accommodation is unnecessary.1551 I submit that the legislation which has already been enacted goes further and is more suitable than that which it is proposed by this Bill to place upon the Statute Book. The provisions I have quoted are typical of the whole Bill. It has been produced in identically the same form as that in which it was introduced nine months ago. It was pointed out in the Debate on that occasion how ridiculous it was that there should be a specified 400 cubic feet of space. My hon. Friend has quite properly pointed out that in factories where air obviously will be used up and more air is required, the amount of space laid down is 250 cubic feet. During the past few years I have paid many visits to trade union organisers in their offices throughout the country in connection with my own business. I am glad to say that I am on the happiest of terms with them. I have talked over matters affecting workers in the iron industry; but I have noticed that not a single one of those offices comes within the ambit of this Bill. I suggest that hon. Members opposite should at any rate in their own offices practise what they preach.
§ Mr. W. A. ROBINSON
The hon. Member has issued a challenge and we accept it. His statement is not true of the accommodation of my own organisation in Manchester.
§ Mr. WAKEFIELD
I thank the hon. Member for his statement. What I said may not be true in his own particular case. I was not referring to Manchester. I have not visited his offices in Manchester, but I have visited a number of other offices and I state quite definitely that if this Bill were passed into law those offices would be found quite out of order, just as many other offices in this House here and in other places would be found unsatisfactory—and this Chamber too, as was pointed out in the last Debate.
§ Mr. WAKEFIELD
I shall be glad to give information afterwards to the hon. Member. I turn now to Clause 11 of the 1552 Bill, which deals with definitions. One of the definitions is:the expression 'underground room' means any room the surface of the floor of which is more than three feet below the surface of the part of the street adjoining or nearest to the room, or more than three feet below the surface of any ground within nine feet of the room.It happens that in my own house I have a room that I have turned into an office and it is more than three feet below the surface of the ground. That room would come within the ambit of this Bill, and I would be unable to use it as an office. I asked my secretary whether she found the ventilation and air and sunlight satisfactory, and she told me that she had been in better health since she had been in that particular room than she had been for many years in the office in which she was before, and the office in which she was before was one of the latest and most up-to-date of modern offices in the whole of London. To define an underground room in the terms of the Bill shows how inadequately drawn the Bill is. If you define a basement or underground room it surely means that you do not care about other internal rooms in which there may be improper light or ventilation. It is surely far better to leave the matter as in the Public Health Act, with its wide and general terms which state categorically that if the ventilation and the whole condition of the workplace is injurious to health it is a nuisance, and the local authority has to take action.
It seems to me that this Bill has not been introduced by hon. Members with any real intention of putting it on the Statute Book, for it is quite clear that all the proposals in it are adequately covered by existing legislation. The Bill has been brought in for another purpose altogether. It has been brought forward for propaganda purposes, to draw attention to the unsatisfactory state of affairs in different parts of the country. I welcome the opportunity that hon. Members opposite have taken to bring forward the Bill in this way, but I hope that after this Debate they will withdraw it. I welcome the opportunity for publicity and the attention which undoubtedly will be drawn throughout the country to the very unsatisfactory state of affairs now existing. Hon. Members have pointed out that there is an unsatisfactory state of affairs existing 1553 in the country. I agree; we all agree. But we on this side say that local authorities have already powers to deal with that unsatisfactory state of affairs. I hope that the publicity which will result from this Debate, the publicity given to the statements of hon. Members opposite, the publicity and propaganda on this side in pointing out how matters can now be dealt with, will mean that the local authorities will pursue a more efficient and vigorous action in stopping these nuisances. It is for us here to put laws upon the Statute Book, and it is up to hon. Members opposite and up to all of us to bring pressure to bear, as well as the Minister—I hope he will do it—upon local authorities, to see that the present very unsatisfactory state of things is not allowed to continue. But no new Bill is needed for that. All that we require can be achieved under the present law.
One further point in the Bill I will mention. It deals with the employment of young persons. Clause 6 of the Bill states that:No young person shall be employed continuously for more than four hours without an interval of at least one hour for a meal.I suggest that that is not a satisfactory position. If the office boy or young person who comes in at nine o'clock goes off at midday for his lunch, he returns at one o'clock, and then according to the Bill he must have an hour off for a meal if his work is not finished by five o'clock. It is not unreasonable for that office boy to work until 5.30. What hon. Members should have included in the Bill is a provision that no young person should be employed for more than 40 hours a week. Instead of bringing in this Bill, which is completely redundant, they should have brought in a Bill providing that no young person should be employed for more than 40 hours a week. For such It proposal they would get a great deal more sympathy from us. We desire to see young people healthy and fit, and they must have reasonable time in the evenings, after their work, to enable them to keep themselves fit, and to take exercises. I, for one, hope that in the not far distant future legislation will ensure that young people do not work more than 40 hours a week and have proper time outside those working hours for physical recreation and to improve themselves by 1554 attendance at night schools, and in other directions to fit themselves for their future work for the country.
I hope that I have succeeded in showing that this Bill would merely introduce redundant legislation. I hope that I have shown that we on this side treat the objects behind the Bill with all the seriousness which they deserve, and that we are in full sympathy with them, but that we believe those objects can be effectively carried out under the legislation already on the Statute Book. I think hon. Members opposite will agree that it is undesirable to have redundant legislation on the Statute Book. For that reason I ask the House to support the Amendment and to reject the Bill.
§ 12.27 p.m.
Mr. CREECH JONES
I desire to support the Second Reading of this Bill, which was so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon), and I regret that after the debate we had last Session certain Members opposite should feel it necessary to move a blocking and delaying Amendment to this very important Measure. I hope that in the remarks that I shall make I shall be able to meet certain of the objections which have been raised from the other side. It is gratifying to know that hon. Members opposite are in general sympathy with the purposes of this Bill. It seems, however, that the ground of criticism has changed somewhat from what it was some months ago. We were then told that that Measure contained many fussy Clauses and would impose unnecessary demands on employers, and it was argued that there was already, and that was prior to the passing of the Public Health Consolidation Act last year, sufficient legislation to make such a Bill as is now before the House unnecessary. I want to submit that in spite of that legislation there is still need for this Measure. Surely it is curious that, with all the legislation already in existence of which we have been reminded this morning, great organisations representing the non-manual workers should be so persistent in asking for this Bill. Behind this Measure are the Trades Union Congress, the National Federation of Professional Workers, the Railway Clerks' Association, and organisations of women clerks and secretaries, distributive workers and shop 1555 assistants, and I regret that the hon. Member for the Park Division of Sheffield (Mr. Lathan) is not here owing to an international conference, to give testimony to the fact that these great organisations, representing tens of thousands of clerical workers, are desirous that this Measure should be passed.
There are a number of valid reasons why existing legislation falls short of what is desired. The House has been reminded that Scotland was excluded from the last consolidation Act. Reference has also been made to London. Right of entry into offices for inspection purposes is now provided for in the new London Measure, but there are still gaps in respect of that London legislation. There is still ambiguity, so far as London is concerned, about the meaning of the word "workplace", because the old Public health law, with its ambiguity, still applies here, and I think it is still uncertain whether "offices" can be brought within the meaning of the word "workplace". Further, there are certain Clauses in our public health legislation which are not compulsory on our local authorities, but are adoptive. Again, if we have to wait for local authorities to act in these matters then knowing as we do the pressure which will come from many local interests, we shall have to wait a long time unless there is compulsion from one of the State departments.
It has been said that the proposals in this Bill fall short of those in recent public health legislation. In reply to that I would only ask the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield) to read Clause 9. There it is clearly stated that the local sanitary authorities shall, without prejudice to their other powers, have all such powers of entry and inspection under the law relating to public health, and may insist on the application of public health legislation, whether as laid down by the law of 1890–91 or under the Act of last Session. Further, in the existing public health legislation no standards are laid down, and we are seeking to get a definite code, a definite standard of conditions, and to make it compulsory on the local authorities to see that they are enforced. In view of the evidence we have collected we 1556 feel that we cannot leave it to the local authorities to act within the terms of public health legislation when that legislation has been deliberately left vague. There are certain Clauses in this Bill which are not included in public health legislation at all, and in view of the inadequacies of that legislation we are not content to let matters rest.
The truth is that we want a special code for clerical workers. In days gone by the House has established codes for other groups of workers. It has legislated on behalf of factory and workshop employes and on behalf of shop assistants, and in the shops legislation it even included a limited number of offices. It has dealt also with the Mercantile Marine. We say that an important section of the industrial community is affected, and now that offices are becoming increasingly mechanised, it is important that there should be a special code to control conditions of work in them.
We want a set of standard physical conditions established in respect of offices. It is no good saying that there is a standard of conditions under Public Health legislation; we know that such a standard does not exist anywhere. We, therefore, ask that power should be given to the Ministry of Health to lay down certain standards, which should be imposed on the local authorities. Where the local authorities are unmindful of their duties in regard to offices, the National Department may step in and compel them to act. We further urge that there should be a systematic and routine inspection of offices. That point seems to have been overlooked in the discussion so far, except that my hon. Friend the Member for North Camberwell pointed out that if this task were left merely to the inspectors of local authorities, the numbers of those inspectors are too few to secure any effective inspection throughout the country. One knows how local authorities are apt if a matter is left to them, to be subjected to influences which will not give us the guaranteed standard which we are seeking to obtain to-day. Under the Shops Act, the matter is left to local inspectors, but I would remind the House that there is ground for much dissatisfaction because of the inadequate number of inspectors under the Shops Act. Many local authorities have not been eager to act in accordance with their powers.
1557 We want the Bill because, in view of the limited number of inspectors and the difficulties of local authorities, we cannot leave the matter in the hands of the clerks themselves to make complaints to the local authorities. That is impossible, because clerical workers are too often subjected to influences. They are economically in a precarious position, and they fear victimisation. It is difficult for them to bring complaints to the notice of the local authorities. That there is a real need is obvious from the evidence that comes to all hon. Members from time to time. All of us have had instances brought to our notice. As we go about, even in the City of London, we see how almost any building may be adapted for office purposes; it may have been a warehouse or a private house which was never built for the purpose of serving, as an office. Sanitary problems are involved. Girls are crowded into such offices, and in many places exceedingly bad conditions exist.
May I mention in passing that, with the increasing number of women who are going into industry and the increasing mechanisation of offices, it becomes all the more important that an effort be made to regularise conditions of employment, partly because of the poor health which results from these new conditions? I have in my hand a summary of the annual report of Dr. Cyril Banks, Medical Officer of Health for Nottingham. He says that powers to insist upon reform in the matter of places where clerks work are long overdue. He declares:There are slum offices as there are slum houses, where darkness and other faulty lighting conditions, closeness, lack of ventilation and insufficiency of sanitary conveniences or facilities for cleanliness all contribute to lower the vitality of the workers and to make them inefficient and bad-tempered. Dustiness, mustiness, and fustiness are the enemies of happiness and efficiency in clerical work.He goes on to point out that powers are limited, so far as offices are concerned, and that he would like to see an extension of the Shops Act. He says:Unfortunately no similar powers were available to enable them to deal with the places in which clerks worked.I could give many cases of extremely bad conditions. I have a letter from a person who points out, as to an office:Another office is glass all round, having once been a showroom for stained-glass 1558 windows. The windows fit badly, with the result that in winter the draughts are appalling.
§ Mr. LEVY
I understood that the hon. Gentleman was quoting from the report of the Medical Officer of Health, who was suggesting that there was inadequate legislation for him to deal with these matters. May I ask whether that Medical Officer of Health was fully aware of all the powers that are contained in the General Powers Act, 1936, before he made those observations?
Mr. CREECH JONES
I think we may take it that Dr. Banks is one of the livest medical officers in this country, and that he is fully aware of all legislation respecting public health. I was quoting from a letter, the writer of which says that the draughtshave to be filled up with gummed strips of paper. In the summer, the sun shines en the glass, turning the office into a hothouse with an incredible temperature.The writer goes on to say:Another office is immediately over the machinery, with the result that the vibration is such that it will spill a cup of tea and the noise necessitates speaking in a very loud voice. This office has a badly-fitting wooden floor through which draughts come in the winter. In the summer it is unbearably hot due to a glass roof. When it rains, there are puddles of water on the floor, sometimes buckets being placed under the drips.
Mr. CREECH JONES
Yes. It was written two or three days ago. I do not want to weary the House, but I have a, great number of communications. If I were to quote from them, hon. Members would, I think, agree with my hon. Friend the Member for North Camberwell that there is good ground for apprehension by parents and teachers in regard to office conditions.
The Bill has been framed on precedent. It is based upon the Shops Act, which was passed by the present Government. Hon. Members on the other side wholeheartedly agreed with the general principle of the Offices Regulation Bill, in so far as they were agreeable that those principles should apply to offices brought within the scope of the Shops Act. Having got rid of the fussy detail which was complained of in the earlier Bill, we have tried to apply the more 1559 general principle of "sufficient and suitable." We have followed the precedent of the Shops Act, and hon. Members on the other side ought not to attempt to block the Bill at this stage. We feel that substantial progress is possible only by a special Act of Parliament, so far as offices are concerned. We recognise that there are defects in the drafting of the Bill, but most of these can be cleared up in the Committee stage.
I would remind the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Raikes) that the cubic capacity of 400 feet mentioned in the Bill, while being in excess of the requirements of the Factory Act, is contained in a number of drafts which have been prepared by the Home Office and submitted to this House. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that he cannot very well take as the standard the existing Factory Act. The figure laid down in 1901 was 250 cubic feet, but things have moved very considerably since then. In any case the fact remains that we have tried to avoid undue standardisation, leaving the standards to the experience of the Ministry of Health, so that they may lay down what in the light of their experience is considered suitable and sufficient, and can refer those standards to the local authorities and see that they are imposed.
It is because there is a genuine demand for this legislation, owing to the insufficiencies of the existing public health legislation, even as amended by the Consolidation Bill, that clerical workers all over the country are demanding this enactment. They are an important class in the community; there are 1,300,000 clerical workers and 4,500,000 non-manual workers. Their organisations want the Bill, and I sincerely hope that the House will give it a Second Reading. Then, if any difficulty is found in regard to the drafting of certain Clauses, they can be referred to a Committee in order that suitable Amendments may be made. If we are to have suitable minima in respect of sanitation, overcrowding, hygiene, heating and temperature, we can only get them by a specific Measure designed to cover the clerks. I am sure that if we want healthy women, who will be the mothers of the future and who are going into industry more and more, we ought to see to it that they are adequately protected 1560 by legislation such as this. For all these reasons I hope that the House will not adopt the suggestion of the two hon. Members who have spoken from the opposite side, but will allow the Bill to go to a Committee, so that we may take a further step in dealing with the just requirements of this very considerable but neglected class of workers.
§ 12.48 p.m.
§ Mr. DOLAND
In rising to address the House for the first time, I ask the indulgence that is usually given to a Member in that position. When I entered this Chamber this morning I had not the slightest idea of attempting to address the House, but one has to make a beginning at some time, and, having some interest in this Measure, I thought it right to take this opportunity to make my first speech in the House. I realise that Friday is considered an unlucky day, but I hope it will not be so in my case.
The reason why this Bill interests me so intensely is that I have, I must admit, been a victim of the bad conditions under which clerks very often have to work. At the age of 14 I went out into the world to endeavour to earn my living, and my first job was in the City of London, where I was engaged as an entering clerk in a textile firm. I had to work in a basement, where not the slightest sign of sunshine ever entered, and a gas jet was just above one's head. My health was unquestionably affected by the work I had to do during my first 12 months of business life. I started work at about 8.30 in the morning, and left, if I was lucky, at nine or 10 in the evening. This Bill, therefore, interested me intensely, and I must admit that I came into the Chamber perhaps somewhat of a renegade, ready to walk over to the other side and vote against the Amendment. But I have listened very intently to the speeches of hon. Members on this side, and I am now convinced that an ample case has been made out to the effect that we have already on the Statute Book legislation that will suffice make persons comply who are not already complying with the regulations contained in the Bill. I understand that such powers are provided in the Public Health Act and in the General Powers Act.
I listened to the hon. Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon), who moved the Second Reading of the Bill, 1561 and I should like to join with others on this side of the House in complimenting him on the impartial manner in which he presented it; he impressed me very much indeed. In particular I was interested to know that there are only 404 sanitary inspectors for the whole of the boroughs of London. I ought to have known that, inasmuch as I have been a, member of a borough council for 25 years, and am also a member of the London County Council. I was also interested to hear that no fewer than 4,250,000 persons would be involved by the provisions of this Bill. May I just mention, however, that only yesterday a very high official of the London County Council, to whom I was speaking with reference to the inspectorate under the Building Bylaws Act of the Council, stated to me that in order to carry out the provisions of the various Acts and by-laws of the London County Council it would be absolutely necessary for the staff to be increased, not only to a battalion, but to a whole army—that it would be impossible for the London County Council, with the staff now engaged in that work, to carry out the work in its entirety. That impressed me very considerably, because it has been mentioned many times, both on this side and on the other side of the House, that the Acts which are now on the Statute Book relating to many of the matters dealt with in this Bill cannot be carried out owing to the inadequacy of the staffs of the borough councils or to the fact that the councils are dilatory in their duties.
It was said, and I was very surprised to hear it stated as a fact, that the local authorities at the moment are in the position of having to await complaints before making their inspections. I think that that is a very deplorable state of affairs, and it has been indicated quite clearly, both from this side and from the other side, that there is a duty upon Ministers of this House to tell local authorities that they are not performing the duties which have been placed on their shoulders, and that the sooner they do it the better for the Acts of Parliament that have been passed. I do not consider that the Amendment, under the conditions which have been set forth to-day, is a blocking or delaying Motion; I feel that there are ample powers to carry out the duties which are placed upon the local authorities in regard to the matters provided for 1562 in the Bill. We have also heard from the other side that various organisations are demanding that this Bill should be placed on the Statute Book, but I would suggest, if I may, that they should be informed, as we have been informed, that there are ample opportunities for the carrying out of the provisions of this Bill in Acts already on the Statute Book. Evidently they do not know that that is the case, as I did not know when I entered the Chamber this morning.
I have been told that, so far as London is concerned, in the various Acts of Parliament that have been mentioned as being sufficient for the carrying out of the provisions of this Bill, there are gaps and ambiguities. Surely it is within the power of the House to clear away those gaps and ambiguities without going to the trouble of bringing in a new Bill. I do not know of the gaps or ambiguities because, as far as I am aware, they have not been pointed out by hon. Members opposite. They have stated that, unless pressure is exercised by the House on local authorities, we shall never have the inspections that are needed. That applies absolutely to the Acts that are on the Statute Book. I hope, as one who has been interested in local government for the last quarter of a century and is still engaged on a borough council, as well as the London County Council, the Minister will take notice of what has been said in regard to the small number of inspectors, and the fact that their duties are not being carried out as well as Members on both sides of the House would like.
§ 12.56 p.m.
§ Mr. KIRBY
I am sure it would be the wish of the House that I should extend to the hon. Member our congratulations upon the manner in which he has treated the subject. I should imagine from the way he spoke that he is something like myself and detests speaking at any time and in any circumstances. That is certainly my view, and it is because of that that I feel sure he will accept what I say in regard to his speech as being sincerely expressed. I hope, as I am sure the House does, that we shall often have the pleasure of hearing him discourse on the subjects that come before us in the same sincere way that he has done to-day.
I have spent almost a lifetime of service in various offices and have had a variety 1563 of experiences in connection with that employment, and for that reason I am greatly interested in the welfare of the clerical workers. When this Bill was last before the House I spoke of some of the experiences that I have had, among others, in regard to Government offices. There is only one Clause in the Bill that I do not feel inclined to support, and that is the one which exempts offices of the Crown and the police from its provision. In my view the Government and local authorities ought to be model employers. If I had been concerned in the drafting of the Bill I should have made it quite clear that all its provisions had to apply to offices of the Crown and the police force in the same way as to commercial offices. The few years that I spent in various Government offices have not given me very happy recollections. I worked under bad conditions at times and I should like to see the law and the regulations tightened up. The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield) and others have been careful to explain that the position of clerical workers engaged in commerce and industry was very well covered by existing legislations, and they want to make sure that we understand that we have their sympathy.
Nurse Cavell, whose name is revered by everyone in the country, said that pariotism was not enough. Sympathy is not enough so far as the condition of clerical workers is concerned. It is not sufficient to sag that there is on the Statute Book sufficient legislation to cover all the grievances that they have in regard to ventilation, sanitation and all the other things mentioned in the Bill. It is not so much whether those matters are fully covered as whether they are being adequately dealt with under the legislation. When we were discussing the Public Order Bill it was claimed that the police and chairmen of meetings had ample power under existing legislation to deal with disorder, but in spite of the existence of legislation we have had more disturbances, both in the street and at various meetings in various towns, and it was felt necessary to pass new legislation to make quite sure that the will of law-abiding citizens should be recognised and that hooliganism should be effectively stopped. We approach this matter in the 1564 same way. We know from experience—and we can give plenty of examples of it —that, whatever the law may be, these grievances and bad conditions exist and, if they are not put right under existing legislation, let us pass some new Act of Parliament which will give clerks the protection that they so badly need. The hon. Member for Swindon also said the Bill had been brought forward for propaganda purposes. That has already been denied and, as one who has just finished some 15 years connection with a trade union catering for clerical workers, I should like to deny it also.
§ Mr. WAKEFIELD
I understood the hon. Member to say how desirable it was that action should be taken. The whole point of my remarks was that propaganda about the state of affairs existing in the country was necessary but that there was legislation in existence to deal with that state of affairs.
§ Mr. WAKEFIELD
I did not say the Measure was brought before the House for propaganda purposes on a number of occasions. I said that in view of the fact that this Bill is practically identical with the Public Health Bill passed last July, it seemed to me to be quite clear that it must have been brought forward for propaganda purposes. That does not mean to say that it is undesirable that there should be propaganda. Both sides agree that there should be propaganda to improve the state of affairs existing in the country.
§ Mr. KIRBY
I am not troubling about the desirability of propaganda. No doubt, both sides will carry on propaganda work as they think fit. This is not a party [Measure in the sense that it has been brought forward because it is part of our political propaganda or programme. There is the strongest possible demand from clerical workers of all grades in all kinds of offices throughout the country for action like this to be taken. I speak 1565 as one who, as a trade union official, has been dealing with these workers for the last 15 years.
The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment said that we were foolish to bring the Bill forward to-day because it was before the House such a short time ago, and that in the meanwhile we had not been able to formulate any data. I would point out that the Government Departments and the medical officers of the various local authorities throughout the country, and Members in this House who belong to the trades unions catering for clerical workers, can bring any amount of data relating to the complaints we are making as to the bad conditions existing in offices to-day. I could go on quoting hundreds of cases one after the other if it did not weary the patience of the House by repetition. Only last night and many hon. Members met certain clerical workers in the Lobby; they were engaged in lobbying Members of the House in regard to the conditions under which they work. One of the sub-sections of Clause I refers to the question of effluvia and bad smells from drains and the like. A man who wrote to me the other day in regard to that matter referred not only to the fact that there were sometimes smells from drains in the offices, but from other directions as well.
In one case, in a badly overcrowded office, the steam pipes from the works ran right through the office. These became extremely hot at times, and when the steam and the dust began to circulate it was an extremely rotten sort of job to have to work there at all. There was another case of a man complaining of having to work in an office where the workers were compelled by reason of dust and that sort of thing to have the windows continuously open, and 20 feet away was a river into which, a little further upstream, the sewage of the district was discharged, with the result that there were very bad smells. One of the ladies in the Lobby complained to me that they had no clothes hooks on the wall, and had to place their clothes on the top of a dust-laden cupboard or under a table. Another person said she worked in an office situated in a kind of a mill, that it was very dusty and that there was no light except artificial light. She also had to keep her spare shoes and stockings under a cupboard where they 1566 were nibbled at by rats. Members on this side of the House could go on hour after hour giving the experiences of the various members we represent. The organisation to which I have belonged for so many years has undertaken, as a result of the discussions which took place some months ago, to circularise its many thousands of members in order to secure absolute and most up-to-date information in regard to the conditions as they exist to-day. They are sending the questionaire which has been prepared not merely to those whom they know to be working under bad conditions, but to every member, so that they may get a true and proper bird's eye view of the existing position. That information will be available at any moment for the consideration of the Home Secretary or any Government Department should they see fit to seek the knowledge which has been obtained.
The hon. Member for Swindon referred to the fact that there was no particular need for legislation in regard to offices, and pointed out that he himself had voluntarily fixed up an office in a part of his house in which the windows were perhaps some three feet below the ground. But there is no comparison between the private individual doing that sort of thing in his own case and the case of those who are working in such offices as a matter of employment. The possibility is that in this particular case he lives in a fairly large house, that it will be a fairly large room with a fairly large window, and that the only persons occupying the place will be himself and possibly a private secretary, whereas, in the case of persons engaged in commerce, the room may be much smaller and the only ventilation may be through a fanlight facing the street with all the dust of the street coming in, and, in addition, they may have to work in artificial light not for an hour or two like the hon. Gentleman, but for 8, 10 or 12 hours a day in very overcrowded conditions. There is no comparison between the voluntary use of a room of that character by the hon. Gentleman under the condition; under which he would work, and an office consisting of 10 or 12 people working in those conditions.
He referred also to the question of office boys and the limitation of hours, and asked what great hardship would be done if the office boy could stay until 1567 5.30. He stays until 5.30 now, and the trouble with regard to most office boys is that, they not only have to stay until 5.30 or 6 o'clock, but, because they are juniors, they are usually the members of the staff who have to stay on late. Hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House who are in business give directions to their secretaries during the day, and their secretaries and typists have to get the correspondence ready for signature by the time they come back at 4 or 5 o'clock in the afternoon. The post has to be prepared and junior typists and office boys may have to stay until 6, 7 or 8 o'clock in order to see that the post is got away so that it may be delivered at its destination in the morning. It is because we know this to be the condition of affairs to-day that we ask the House to pass this Bill so that tens of thousands of people working under most deplorable conditions can be protected from this state of things altogether.
§ 1.3 p.m.
§ Mr. CROWDER
I thoroughly agree with the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) when he says that it should not be left to employes to make complaints before the offices are visited by the inspectors of local authorities, but as we have heard to-day and as, I believe, is the case, except perhaps in London where the position is somewhat doubtful, the inspectors of local authorities have such power, and later on I intend to urge that they should exercise their power much more than they have done in the past. The hon. Member for Shipley also said that he knew of a certain office where the clerks worked in a room where there was very noisy machinery below or above the room. Personally, I think that there is too much in this Bill; too many regulations and notices to be put up, and too much detail. But there is nothing about noise in it, so that even if the Bill were passed the noise of this machinery would not be stopped, and the office would not be held to be unsuitable. Wide powers should be given to the local authorities, broadly speaking, to say whether an office is fit for people in which to work or not, and not lay down too much detail. The hon. Member for Everton (Mr. Kirby) said that we on this side of the House said that there was no need for the Bill because the Government already had 1568 powers and that he might just as well argue that there was no need for the Public Order Bill because the police have powers. Surely, the point of the Public Order Bill was the uniform Clause—that was the really important one—and he could hardly conclude that there was the same connection between the two Bills.
§ Mr. CROWDER
It is only a small point, but I thought that the most important Clause in that Bill was the uniforms Clause. The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield) was taken to task by the hon. Member for Everton for talking about propaganda. My hon. Friend did not say that he welcomed propaganda as political propaganda, but he was glad that there had been propaganda so that we on this side of the House could be assisted in our efforts to get the Government through the local authorities to carry out more inspection, and to improve the offices where these particular workers are engaged. When the Bill was discussed last March I suggested that the Government might with very good effect make enquiries as to the suitability of office accommodation in London and the big towns, and that a general survey might be made. I asked that the Ministry of Health should give instructions to the local authorities to ensure that the sanitary arrangements of offices were adequate and that ventilation and lighting were suitable. I also suggested that the local authorities should be given further power, where necessary, to carry out visits to certain offices, as many as possible, over a period of time, in their areas. I have seen no further reference to this matter and do not know what steps have been taken since last March.
I am informed, as various hon. Members have explained, that many evils still exist. For instance, in a building in the London County Council area I am told that in addition to bad lighting there are no wash basins provided for 20 women clerks. I am also informed that a public authority in London provide only one lavatory basin for 40 girls. These conditions should not be allowed to continue. 1569 The right of entry into offices is provided for in the Public Health Act, 1936, but I am not clear whether in the Consolidated Act (London), 1936, there is provision for the right of entry in London.
§ Mr. CROWDER
I understand that there is not, but the position is not quite clear. I hope the Under-Secretary will give us an assurance that the right of entry will extend to London, because London has more offices than any other town or city in the country. Therefore, this is a very important point. This matter worries me because, although the Consolidated Act has been passed, the local authorities in London have not that power. I do not like to feel that this matter is being neglected by the Government or the local authorities, and I should like the Under-Secretary to give us an assurance and to promise some report on the matter. Some sort of inspection ought to be made. I presume that the Minister of Health through the local authorities could, quite easily, deal with the question and have the necessary inspection made under the present machinery without this Bill being passed. It does not seem to me that it should be necessary for a Private Member to have to introduce a Bill such as this, when we all know that it is very difficult and almost impossible for a Private Bill to be given time in these very busy days. I understand that Private Bills when they are passed require considerable amendment, and generally they are not found to carry out in practice what they are meant to do, and they do not always work smoothly and efficiently. As we have the machinery, it is only a question of asking the Government to make inquiries and getting into touch with the local authorities to see that inspections are made, starting with London.
In regard to the question of propaganda. I was sorry to see an article in the "Daily Herald" in which the writer seeks to make this Bill a purely party affair. This is what he says:It is those who treat their office staffs with less decency than their dogs whom it is necessary to deal with.There we have exaggeration and party feeling coming in:Non-manual workers, therefore, will watch with considerable interest the 1570 Division lists to discover the supporters, if any, of one of the worst forms of vested interests.I do not know what hon. Members think about that article. I am not accusing them of having written it, but they will not get my support for the Bill by writing what I would call a somewhat threatening article, mainly directed against people like myself who support the National Government.
§ Mr. SORENSEN
Is it not a fact that the decision to vote for or against this Bill will be the decision of the individual Member, quite irrespective of any intimidation? Surely, the hon. Member will not be put off doing what is right because somebody makes an ugly face at him?
§ Mr. CROWDER
If I wished to represent the best interest of this body of black-coated workers, I should have written in conciliatory terms and not as has been written in the "Daily Herald", trying to make party capital out of the question. I shall be entirely guided by what the Under-Secretary says in his speech as to what he is prepared to do. I have not yet made up my mind yet which way I am going to vote. I hope the Under-Secretary will give us some assurance that the Government will give the necessary instructions to Local Authorities to act and see that the Consolidated Act applies to London. If he does that, I shall support the Amendment. I hope the Government will consider the matter seriously, because this is a step to encourage the black-coated workers and to make them feel that the Government recognise them and their needs. I want to see the health of office workers improved as much as anybody else does. It is the policy of the Ministry of Health to improve the health of the people throughout the country, and I submit that some move should be made to improve the health of the office workers by giving them better accommodation. We shall not improve their health unless we see that the offices where they work are better provided with facilities as regard ventilation and light. Office workers have been very badly hit since the War. They are a loyal and uncomplaining body, and I would ask the Government to take such steps as are necessary to see that their working conditions are improved, as is being done throughout the country in regard to other 1571 classes of workers. I hope that we shall be told that the present machinery, without passing another Act of Parliament, is sufficient, and that the local authorities will be assisted in this matter, if necessary by increasing the number of inspectors, into seeing that unsuitable offices are improved.
§ 4 p.m.
§ Mr. JAGGER
I should like to endorse the remarks of the hon. Member for Everton (Mr. Kirby) and to assure the hon. Member for Balham (Mr. Doland) that what he suffered at 14 years of age is still being suffered by thousands upon thousands of boys and girls in thousands of offices. There has not been a scrap of difference made in the law in these matters since he went to work at 14 years of age so far as London is concerned. The conditions are still based on the Act of 1875, with the 1890 adoptive rights. There has been virtually no change in the position since the enactment of the 1890 adoptive Act, which can only be adopted by county boroughs, boroughs and urban districts. Rural districts could not adopt it, and increasingly large business firms established themselves in rural areas where the position is still as under the 1875 Act, unless the Minister of Health himself issues an order for the adoption of that Act which I believe he has done in several cases.
We on this side of the House owe a debt of gratitude to the hon. Member who seconded the rejection for the valuable assistance he gave us. He proved conclusively that it is absolutely necessary that trade union offices in the country should be brought up to a decent standard. This Bill proposes to bring every trade union office up to a decent standard, and then, of course, there are cellar dwellings. We heard about them last March. The lady secretary of the hon. Member likes to work underground. I would call his attention to the fact that in this Bill we are prepared to protect him and his secretary in their underground office. There is a special provision whereby nice underground offices like his can be certified as complying with the terms of the Bill. The hon. Member for Finchley (Mr. Crowder) suggested that the hon. Member for Everton had not been quite fair in quoting the recent Bill giving the police powers which they already possess.
§ Mr. JAGGER
Let me give a fair simile. During the last few years we have had a number of Factory Bills and we are promised another in the Gracious Speech. Everything that has been said against this Bill could have been said against the present Factory Acts. The Public Health provisions apply to work places and factories, but, nevertheless, it has been necessary to pass factory legislation. There has been a Factory Act on the Statute Book for generations; it is the charter of the factory worker, and we are asking for a charter for the non-manual worker. We have endeavoured to lift the Bill from the old familiar line of 25 persons to one lavatory, because we think that a. modern Minister of Health should be able from time to time to improve the conditions as employers become more educated. I want to emphasise that it is not only the badly constructed, old, inefficient offices, occupied sometimes by poverty-stricken employers very little better off than their employes, but in many cases firms of the highest repute who are still building or proposing to build large premises with upper storeys to be used for show purposes and lower storeys to be used for the clerical staff. Within recent years my own organisation prevented 600 of its members being immured in the basement of one big business premises in the provinces by the simple expedient of bringing them out on strike. Now those rooms are the dining rooms, and the clerks are upstairs. In a few cases like that trade union efforts can prevent these unsatisfactory things happening. It has become rather a habit this morning to quote, and I should like to quote the words of perhaps the reatest authority in this country on this matter of a man who has given special study to it. I quote from a book which was written this year by John Hallsworth after the Shops Act had been passed. After paying a high tribute to the Act he says:conditions in offices have frequently formed the subject of complaints. … Underground rooms, in many cases unventilated, badly lighted, and with dirty windows, overcrowding, lack of proper ventilation, inadequate heating, insufficient, unsuitable, and dirty sanitary accommodation, absence of or poor washing facilities.1573 That is the state of affairs which we want to remedy. Probably the most important Clause in the Bill —
§ Mr. JAGGER
It is from a book "Protective Legislation for Shop and Office Employees" by John Hallsworth, published by Harrap which is admitted to be the standard work on commercial and shop life. In Sub-section (1) of Clause 9 there is a provision which in itself makes the whole of the Bill workable. There is agreement on both sides of the House that the legislation which now exists is not operative to the extent it should be, and it has been explained that this is partly because it is in the hands of many local authorities, some of them with a very high and some with a very low idea as to the nature of their duties. We have always been up against the fact that there is nobody who can apply the necessary pressure on local authorities to see that their inspectors carry out their duties. I should like to read Sub-section (1) of Clause 9:Provided that if the Minister of Health is satisfied that the provisions of this Act, or of the law relating to public health in so far as it affects offices, have not been carried out by the local sanitary authority, be may, by order, authorise an inspector to take, during such period as may be mentioned in the order, such steps as appear necessary or proper for enforcing those provisions.In my opinion, that is the most important Clause in the Bill. All the adoptive and other public health legislation which has been passed has been very much less effective than it should have been, because not any other Government Department, either the Home Office, the Ministry of Labour, or the Ministry of Health, have power to bring pressure to bear. This Clause is so worded that it empowers the Minister of Health to say very clearly, "If you do not do your work, I shall send one of the officials of my Department to do the work for you." That is a provision which has been lacking in all previous legislation. This Clause is to me the most vital part of the Bill. Without detaining the House further, I will express the hope that some hon. Members opposite who envisaged the possibility of conversion may be converted, and go into the Division Lobby with us.
§ 1.36 p.m.
§ Mr. LEVY
I think it would be true to say that on both sides of the House it is recognised that conditions exist in regard to offices in some parts which are definitely undesirable, and I think everybody will agree that undesirable conditions should be remedied at the earliest possible moment. This is, within my knowledge, the third time that this Bill has been brought before the House. I was privileged to Second its rejection in 1934; I moved its rejection in March. 1936, and I shall now speak for the Amendment to-day. I will explain why it is that I am so persistent in trying to prevent redundant Acts of Parliament being placed on the Statute Book. The right hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Reading said that hon. Members of this side of the House deal with this matter in a flippant manner. I think that is an assertion that is unworthy of him. Hon. Members on this side deal seriously with matters that affect the health of the people. If hon. Members will look at the number of Acts on the Statute Book, they will find that, without any question, this side of the House has put more legislation on the Statute Book—
§ Mr. MacLAREN
The hon. Member's side of the House is the Government side, and the only side that can do it.
§ Mr. LEVY
If hon. Members will look at the matter pro rata and in ratio to the time hon. Members opposite have been in office, they will find that the Government side, as it is to-day, has done more for the public health and for the benefit of the country than all the other people put together. The hon. Member for Clayton (Mr. Jagger) said that nothing had been done since the time to which the hon. Member for Balham (Mr. Doland) referred, when he started in an office at 14 years of age. [An HON. MEMBER: "In London?"] As far as London is concerned, all hon. Members know that separate legislation has always been made for London and Scotland. At the present time, London is controlled by the Labour Party, and it is up to members of the London County Council to do that which is effective and efficient for London. If the provisions that are already in existence for dealing with this matter in London are not carried out, thanks to 1575 members of the Labour Party, who are in control there, they must have the responsibility.
§ Mr. LEVY
I have not the date, but it was not disputed last time. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is disputed now."] There are the Public Health Acts and the Factories and Shops Act.
§ Mr. LESLIE
The hon. Member is perhaps referring to the Factories and Workshops Act, which does not apply here.
§ Mr. LEVY
There is the General Powers Act, which gives powers to the local authorities to make by-laws.
§ Mr. AMMON
As has already been said, the Consolidation Act does make certain improvements, but it applies only to places outside London and Scotland. Before it can apply to London, a new Bill must pass through the House, and the London County Council will not have power until the new Bill is passed.
§ Mr. LEVY
I contend that the London County Council have sufficient powers at the present time to deal with all the questions referred to in the Bill, if they use their power efficiently. We are all agreed—and it has been stated here definitely and Clause by Clause—that the Public Health Act, 1936, gives power to the local authorities to deal with every one of the matters dealt with in this Bill. The only part of this Bill to which the Public Health Act does not apply is the proposal that there should be 400 cubic feet per person. That would mean that there would not be a single office throughout the whole of the country that would comply with the regulation. It certainly would not apply in any offices in the House of Commons.
§ Mr. LEVY
It would not apply in any office in any Civil Service institution. If it can be said, as I think it can, that 250 cubic feet is sufficient for factory workers, why should it be urged that there should be greater cubic capacity for office workers? I would prefer to reverse the proposal, and to say that an office worker doing clerical work would be as well off with 250 cubic feet as a factory worker, doing physical labour, with 400 feet. I am not making that contention, but I say that 250 cubic feet has been laid down and accepted in the case of factory workers, and there has been no complaint with regard to it. Therefore, to say in this Bill that there should be 400 cubic feet for office workers is extravagant and mistaken, because it would be totally unnecessary. Every Clause in this Bill is already covered by existing legislation, and, that being the case, what is the purpose in bringing it forward?
We on this side agree that in a number of offices in different parts of the country there are conditions which ought not to be allowed to continue. But the responsibility for those matters is the responsibility of the local authorities. They have the power in their own hands to remedy every evil with which the Bill endeavours to deal, if they only exercise those powers. I have examined a great many local authorities' Bills in the few years during which I have had the privilege of being a Member of this House. We find local authorities coming here time after time to seek further powers, but as hon. Members opposite know, and as we on this side are prepared to agree, the local authorities in many cases are not exercising the powers which they now possess as those powers ought to be exercised. I would be the first to admit the difficulty which an office-worker feels about making a complaint to a local authority, because of the fear of victimisation. An office-worker who makes a complaint in that way fears that he or she will be discharged. We all appreciate that fact. It is a very difficult position but it ought not to be necessary for an office-worker to make a complaint. Inspections ought to take place from time to time to see that the regulations laid down under the Public Health Act, 1936, are being observed.
§ Mr. LEVY
The outcome of the introduction of the previous Bill in March, 1936, was that owing to the propaganda --and I agree that propaganda is necestiary—the Public Health Act, 1936, was passed and came into operation, I think, in June or July of this year. [HON. MEMBERS: "October !"] I am obliged for the correction. The Act came into operation on 1st October, and it is now 4th December. I think it must be admitted by hon. Members opposite that we ought to give that Act time to operate and see how far it will go towards remedying the evils that are said to exist. But is it right, a few weeks after the putting into operation of that Act, to bring in another Bill duplicating many provisions already on the Statute Book? I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield) that hon. Members opposite probably never expected this Bill to go upon the Statute Book.
§ Mr. LEVY
I suggest that it has been brought forward for propaganda purposes, and with the object of making the general public believe that the party opposite is the party which has sympathy and regard for the working class, to the exclusion of all other parties. I repudiate that idea, and I say that hon. Members who sit on this side of the House have as much regard and sympathy for the people, and are as anxious for the well being of the people, as hon. Members opposite. If hon. Members opposite consider that it is right to introduce a redundant Measure of this kind it is not for me to complain. I said the other day that Private Members' time in this House, both as regards Motions on Wednesdays and Bills on Fridays, was put to good use and that as good legislation has been put on the Statute Book by Private Members' Bills as by Government Bills. But it would be a great pity if Private Members' time were utilised for bringing in redundant and unnecessary Measures. To do so would be rendering an ill-service to all Members of this House. When a Bill is submitted by hon. Members opposite and it is found to be 1578 a good Bill, there is never any lack of sympathy from Members on this side.
§ Mr. LEVY
Only on Wednesday last a Motion was submitted by an hon. Member opposite to which we moved an Amendment and that Motion, as amended, went through with general assent, and legislation is to be introduced with regard to it. As far as this Bill is concerned, I oppose it not because I do not want to see conditions improved, but because, as I said, it was merely a duplication of provisions already in other Acts of Parliament. I honestly think that the publicity which is being given to these matters will have the effect of gingering up the local authorities concerned, and that the inspectors will go out and do their duty and compel those people in whose offices bad conditions exist to do the necessary work for the improvement of those conditions. I think all Members of the House desire that office work should be carried out under good healthy conditions with proper light and ventilation, that office employment should be made as congenial as possible, and in order to have that congeniality—
§ 1.54 p.m.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I listened with great interest to the hon. Member for South East Essex (Mr. Raikes), the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield), the hon. Member for Finchley (Mr. Crowder), the hon. Member for Balham (Mr. Doland) and particularly to the hon. Member for Elland (Mr. Levy), all of whom appeared to agree that a great many evils still exist in office conditions, but asserted, without offering any proof, that those evils could all be remedied under existing legislation. I put it to 1579 the House that that is not so. It has already been said that there has been no change in legislation on this subject as far as London is concerned since 1875. As one who has had—I almost said "enjoyed "—a similar experience to that of the hon. Member for Balham, and who has worked under conditions even worse than those under which he himself apparently has worked, I want to say that I could take him to scores of offices that I know in London to-day where the conditions that he described still exist, and I can assure him that there is no power existing to-day to alter those conditions, unless complaint is made by the people who are working under those conditions themselves. I do not think any Minister on the front Bench opposite will contradict that statement; indeed, I know they will not. If that be so, may I ask them to turn their attention to Clause 9 and to read the first paragraph carefully? It says:It shall be the duty of every local sanitary authority to carry out the provisions of this Act, and for the purpose of their duties with respect to offices under this Act and under the law relating to public health, the local sanitary authority and their officers shall, without prejudice to their other powers, have all such powers of entry, inspection, taking legal proceedings or otherwise as an inspector under the Factory and Workshop Act, 1901.Would anybody assert that they have those powers to-day? Everybody knows that they have not, and is not that itself a sufficient reason for at least giving a Second Reading to this Bill? I was interested in some of the objections raised by hon. Members opposite, and there may be something in them. It was stated by the hon. Member for Swindon that he himself has an office which is about three feet underground, and that his secretary, who is working there, is quite satisfied and, strange to say, is getting better health in that semi-underground office than she was in what he described as one of the most up-to-date and modern offices that she had previously worked in. If that be so, and if the definition in the Bill to which the hon. Member referred is faulty, is it not easy to alter the definition in Committee? At least, it is no reason why the Bill should not get a Second Reading. The hon. Member referred to a previous statement made from this side of the House in regard to an office that he 1580 knew where considerable noise, the noise of machinery, affected the health of the workers in the office, and he pointed out that there is no Clause in this Bill dealing with noise and, consequently, no Clause that could remedy that particular condition. Again, is not that an opportunity for him, if he believes, as I do, that there should be a Clause in this Bill giving powers against at least excessive noise, to try to insert such an Amendment in Committee as would make that one of the objections against which the Bill would give some guarantee to office workers?
It is admitted by everybody that here in London, quite outside of other parts of the country, there is not sufficient protection for office workers, and it is probably true to say that London is a place in which far more office workers are employed than in any other half-dozen cities in the whole of the United Kingdom. Surely these people ought to have that protection which it is admitted they are not getting to-day. I went into an office in the last six months, not very far from here, in Chancery Lane. I could take anybody to it now, and I am sure that, although I was not there 50 years ago, it was in a similar condition then to what it is in now. It was fusty, musty, and dusty, and it was unclean.
§ Mr. McENTEE
It was. Being himself a lawyer, the hon. and learned Member recognises what exists in lawyers' offices. I started life in a lawyer's office.
§ Mr. McENTEE
No, but my first job was in a lawyer's office, and I worked under these musty and dusty conditions that still exist in lawyers' offices. I was there 18 months, and possibly I might have been there now had it not been for the fact that, in addition to the other grievances that I had to experience in that office, the owner of the office threw a ledger at me, and I had to escape and get to the right, side of the door. In addition, I want to draw attention to other experiences which I have had, of a type of office that I personally know to be one of the worst types that we have to-day and, therefore, one that this Bill would do much to remedy. I refer to the office that is in the workshop. I am by 1581 profession a carpenter and joiner. I started in a lawyer's office, but finished up in a more reputable fashion and became a carpenter and joiner, and in my long years of experience of workshops, where carpenters, joiners, and machinists generally work, I have seen offices in cabinet works and other places like that, right in the middle of big machine shops, with no air except what got in through the centre of such shops and with the dust coming from the machines into them. They were continually having to wipe the books to keep the dust off, so that the figures which they were making would continue to be legible. I could take hon. Members to scores of places like that in London to-day, and I do not think anybody will say that that condition of work for men or women—I have seen women working under such conditions—is at all desirable.
I think it has been generally agreed to-day that, in spite of the legislation of the past, there are very great evils existing to-day in regard to office conditions, and it is also agreed, because it cannot be denied, that, at least so far as London is concerned, there are no means of dealing with these people under existing legislation. Is it not reasonable, therefore, to ask the House to give a Second Reading to this Bill to-day, so as to enable it to go upstairs, where it can be considered more in detail and where any necessary Amendments can be introduced into it? If there is anything at all in the expressions of sympathy that we have heard to-day from the other side of the House, surely it is reasonable to ask that they shall express that sympathy in action, and that they shall give the Bill their vote to-day to enable it to go upstairs for consideration, so that when it comes back to the House in its changed form, modified in some ways and strengthened in others, it shall go out to the world as a charter to those who are working under onerous, difficult and bad conditions.
§ 2.6 p.m.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I congratulate the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee) on having got away from a lawyer's office. I know them too well and they are generally musty with ancient documents. It is just as well that he got away from it and took up a much more interesting occupation. There is no 1582 doubt that the conditions in offices in many respects are not too satisfactory. In the new buildings that are being erected there are more and more conveniences and greatly improved ventilation, and if we are to get the best offices most of those that exist now will have to be reconstructed from top to bottom. In the United States the large firms are not content with having their clerks sitting down all day and driving pens or working typewriters. They provide gymnasiums to help keep their staffs in sound condition and good health, and insist on the staff taking exercise therein twice daily. Enlightened employers know that if the staffs are working in unhealthy and badly ventilated offices they will get sleepy and tired and will not do their jobs well. We have to show some stupid employers that if they look after their staffs well, they will get very much better work. I remember talking to an eminent coal owner about the ventilation of mines, and he told me that he made a special effort in his mines to have a trtmendous amount of ventilation because the more air there was in the mines the cooler they were and the harder the men had to work in order to keep themselves warm.
If workers are in musty conditions in a bad atmosphere with no oxygen in it you will not get the best work out of them. That is why it has been found such a benefit to allow girls to have a short interval for tea. The same applies to men on a march; they march much better after a 10 minutes' break. The question is whether this Bill will do what is wanted in these directions. There are certain conditions in the Bill which are to apply to every office. The first is, "It shall be kept in a cleanly state." That is a relative matter. What some people would call clean, some house-proud wife would call dusty. Then, "It shall be kept free from effluvia." Of course it should, and yet on the other hand, if you are providing sanitary conveniences they should be close at hand. A further provision is that there shall be provided suitable sanitary conveniences. That is a necessary provision, but they must, as I said, be handy. I was in a splendid set of offices not long ago, and in order to get to the sanitary conveniences you had to get a key and had to go upstairs in a lift to the top flat which was devoted to them. I said to the man "Are not all 1583 your people suffering from bad health having to go such a long way?" In such conditions there should not be the notice "Gentlemen" on the door, but it should be "Tipperary, it's a long way to go." These things should be immediately available, for men and women especially are shy and do not like to get up and go away for an interval.
Why, in paragraph (c) of Clause 1, is the space of about 12 feet from the floor not to be taken into account? I always understood that a large spacious room was the best. The Bill also deals with the question of overcrowding, but if there is one thing that the promoters might devote their attention to it is the overcrowding on the underground railways. There is no question of cubic feet there. People are almost stifled, and it is a most distressing thing for them to have to travel in these conditions in the morning and then have to go into an office to work. It does far more injury to the health of the people than anything else. It is no doubt due to the hours of labour in which people have to do their work, but it might be avoided with a little rearrangement whereby offices might open a little earlier and shops open a little later. It would be much more profitable to the railways.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
That is so. It is a monopoly. Provision is made for the maintenance of a reasonable temperature in offices. Who is to attend to that? We know that in railway carriages everybody except Scotsmen always want the windows closed. Who is going to attend to the question of ventilation? There may be plenty of windows in an office, but if they are not opened what is the good of them? Is the employer to come out so many times a day and open them? Paragraph (e) says that every part of the office shall be kept suitably and sufficiently lighted. Why should it be if there is nobody in that part of the office? We may depend upon it that the ordinary employer will see that there is sufficient light by which to do the work. Then there are to be suitable and sufficient washing facilities. Does that mean the ordinary wash hand-basin which has to be emptied, or a 1584 washing basin which is fixed to the wall? These things should be better defined. There is the further provision that a reasonable temperature shall be maintained. What is a reasonable temperature 7 Some people suffer from high blood pressure and others from low, and one man likes a place hot with all the radiators on, and another does not like it so hot. One of the things that we ought to watch is the effect of radiators on health, because they give people dry throats and make them liable to colds. I have had experience of them, and the only way in which I could get a room to a reasonable moisture was to put pans of water on the top of the radiators.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I remember a blacksmith telling me that blacksmiths have a spark in the throat which they are always endeavouring to extinguish. Some of these modern devices for securing reasonable temperatures are really injurious to health. What is needed is some arrangement whereby suitable moisture is made available. Then we find a provision relating to:The standard of suitable and sufficient ventilation.If you are going to provide that offices should all have louvres as one means of providing an adequate circulation of air, that would be some help, but I do not see why this House should be talking about ventilation and fresh air when this is one of the worst places in the world for lack of ventilation and fresh air. We are not the sort of people who should lay down the law for any one until we have got fresh air and a temperature here which is reasonable. The Minister of Health is to lay down the standard under the Bill. Another provision is:An increase of the minimum number of cubic feet of space prescribed by the section for every person employed in a room where such room is continuously occupied by day and by night.I believe the Stock Exchange clerks are working overtime now, and are working day and night. It is not the amount of cubic feet of space that matters so much as the velocity of the ventilation. If you have a small room provided with louvres for ventilation, you have much better ventilation than you get in a larger room 1585 without such appliances. Another provision in the Bill is for:The standard of suitable and sufficient lighting.People who work in an office must have light and employers insist on it to get their work done. The next provision refers to:The standard of reasonable temperature.We know that radiators cause a dry heat which is injurious to health, and the coal fire itself can be very injurious to health, because of the smoke. Edward I, that most enlightened monarch, prohibited the use of coal fires because of the impurities they created in the atmosphere. If the Minister of Health could tackle the problem and compel people to use smokeless coal it would be a big step forward in ensuring the heath of city populations.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
The Bill refers to thermometers, which are to be provided and maintained. Why not a barometer? That would be much better, for people would then know whether they had to take their Burberrys and umbrellas or not. In Clause 6 I find that:No young persons shall be employed continuously for more than four hours without an interval of at least one hour for a meal.If there were some provision that the meal was to be provided for the young person, I could have some sympathy with the proposal, but to turn a poor boy out and say, "You must go away for an hour," might be anything but welcome. Besides we know that to feed every four hours is bad for young people. It is contrary to all the principles of the Hay Diet. Another provision is that:No young person shall be employed during the night or on Sunday.I am entirely in sympathy with that proposal. Another provision prevents the employment of any young person "in the event of an accident or an emergency."
What is an emergency?
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
That might be. At any rate it is as good an excuse as going to a grandmother's funeral. We may have to rebuild London one of these days. 1586 If we do, I hope we shall see accommodation of a standard that will provide health and comfort to those who have to work in offices. If I believed that this Bill was going to help in that direction, I would support it, but I do not think that it will do so. The Minister of Health must engage in propaganda and must educate the people in these health matters. Unless the workers are kept in the best and happiest conditions, work will not be got out of them. The first thing to do is to see that they have comfortable homes. But I see nothing in this Bill but vague generalities, and if carried into law I do not think it would improve the offices in London or anywhere.
§ 2.25 p.m.
§ Mr. LESLIE
We have just listened to a very entertaining but, I am afraid, not very enlightening dissertation on the Bill, and I only hope that the hon. and learned Member will be good enough to support us in getting it through to Committee, where he can entertain himself to his heart's content. The hon. Member for Elland (Mr. Levy) laid the flattering unction to his soul that he has repeatedly opposed Measures of this kind. One wonders what was behind his persistent opposition. He admits that the authorities are not carrying out their work properly, and that is the position which the Bill seeks to remedy, because we say in the Bill that if the authorities fail to do their work then Government inspectors should act, just as they act under the Factories and Workshops Acts. He said that the London County Council has sufficient powers to do what the Bill wants, but that is in contradiction of what the Mover of the Amendment said, because he admits that the Public Health Act of 1936 did not apply either to London or to Scotland. Surely that very fact is sufficient to warrant us in bringing forward this Bill, so that it shall apply to London.
§ Mr. H. G. WILLIAMS
Does the hon. Member take the view that the existing law in London does not apply to offices?
§ Mr. LESLIE
Yes, it does not apply. The Mover of the Amendment further said that if at the end of a year or 18 months existing legislation proved not to be sufficient the Government might do something; but, meanwhile, clerical workers in London will have to continue 1587 suffering under the present bad conditions. On the last occasion when a Bill of this kind was before the House, last March, the Mover of the Amendment, in twitting us with so often bringing it forward, said that it was a case of
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast,"
but to that I retorted
"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick."
I hope that on this occasion the House will give heed to the repeated requests that protection should be given to the health of the black-coated workers. We are told that the Public Health Act, 1936, provides all that is necessary. Unfortunately, it falls very far short of what is required. We have had a lesson in the case of the Shops Act, 1934, which dealt with sanitation, ventilation, and heating. That Act was put under the power of the local authorities, but hundreds of them have never attempted to operate it, and therefore we suggest in this Bill that where the local authorities fail Government inspectors should act. It is unfortunate that a good number of the members of local authorities are property owners, and that is one reason why those authorities do not operate a Measure of this kind.
There is at present no systematic inspection of offices. Employers seem to act on the assumption that any odd corner about a building is good enough for a clerk. In the Debate last March I said that Central London teems with wretched little offices ill-equipped, ill-ventilated, badly lit, and devoid of proper sanitary accommodation. This Bill seeks to deal with that situation, because paragraph (e) of Clause 1 (1) requires that officesshall be provided with suitable and sufficient means of lighting and every part of the office shall be kept suitably and sufficiently lighter.Further, paragraph (h) says:There shall be provided and maintained suitable and sufficient sanitary conveniences available for the use of all persons employed in or about the office.In the City of London examples of bad accommodation are provided by the offices attached to wholesale warehouses. In these wretched basements, many of them really cellars, the occupants are cold in winter and become the victims of bronchial and chest trouble, and the sickness 1588 ratio stands very high. In those basement offices there is artificial light all day, involving much strain on the eyes. Many basement offices are simply an abomination. An examination which was made of some of those basement offices only last year show that the walls and ceilings were dirty, that the ventilation was insufficient, and that in some cases the lavatories were in a beastly state.
Under this Bill we also demand that there shall be a proper and sufficient supply of pure drinking water, and suitable and sufficient washing facilities available for the persons employed in or about the offices. Many offices in London make no such provision at all. The washing accommodation is very often no more than a small sink in a cellar, with no light, and so it is useless to attempt to use it after midday. Men's lavatories were found to be filthy, covered with dust and cobwebs, and with the apparatus and fittings rusty. It is true to say that conditions are imposed upon non-manual workers such as would never be tolerated by manual workers, for the simple reason that the manual workers had the sense to organise and make their grievances known, and Parliament gave heed to them by passing the Factories and Workshops Act, laying down conditions with respect to sanitation, ventilation and heating.
After the Debate last March I had the privilege, in company with my hon. Friend the Member for Everton (Mr. Kirby), of visiting some offices on the Embankment which were an example of what offices ought to be. There was every possible accommodation for the staff, and in addition there were baths where they could have swimming lessons, and all sorts of amenities were provided. That is what I should like to see everywhere, but I am afraid that is impossible. This is a Bill which specifically provides for a long neglected and unprotected class of the community. We want to ensure for the black-coated or non-manual workers conditions of employment such as will safeguard their health. The Bill seeks to provide proper sanitary accommodation, proper lighting, proper ventilation, proper temperature and proper washing facilities. I hope that on this occasion the Government will give facilities for the passing of the Bill into law, and then, when it is in Committee, 1589 those who at present oppose it will have the opportunity of putting forward Amendments to improve it.
§ 2.33 p.m.
§ Mr. SIMPSON
The Debate on this subject to-day has again been true to type, except that on the last occasion the House was not, I think, provided with the comic analysis of the Bill with which the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) has entertained the House. I think it is also fair to say that the speeches to-day from the benches opposite have been more restrained and less provocative than they were on the last occasion. I thought at one time that the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield) was an advocate for the Bill, though I do not say an excellent advocate, because his advocacy varied in degree. At one time he was protesting there was too much in the Bill, and later suggested that many other things ought to be provided which are not included. On past occasions the opposition to the Bill seems to have been fairly divided between ridicule and promise of reform, a curious conjunction, but not unusual in matters of this kind. Certain it is that the claims set forth in the Bill were treated with a certain amount of facetiousness and regarded as impracticable, yet they are now the material, in some measure, for Government pride in the progress that they have made.
I do not propose to reiterate the detailed provisions of the Bill nor to re-traverse the arguments that have been generally advanced. The Public Health Act, to which reference has been made and which represents a measure of progress in the direction in which we desire to travel, does not fulfil anything like what is required for clerical and office workers. There are definite and important omissions, for which the Bill offers a solution. I would stress two points, the first of which is that a very considerable number of workers are affected by this Measure, and suffer from the disadvantages which it proposes to remove. An increasing number of workers in industry are represented by professional and technical clerical types who, in the past, have suffered serious disadvantages and inconveniences because of their lack of protection. We maintain that there is justification for the arguments which have 1590 been used in favour of the Measure because of what yet remains to be done. The further point, in regard to this as to so many other social problems, is that the basis of attack and reform should be positive and constructive and should deal with causes and first preventions. In the past, it has been possible to do little more except to portray the disadvantages and to deal with criticisms that have had to be left to the initiative and the action of the people in the offices themselves.
Referring to the Public Health Act, 1875, the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Raikes) said that it gave ample protection because it provided that, where conditions obtained that were injurious to health, protection was given under the Act. The hon. Member said that that was a wide term. Precisely; it has been so wide that it has been largely unobserved, and the invidious test of notification and the rest has been left to the unfortunate individuals in the offices, sometimes with punitive results. We can quite imagine that people engaged in a clerical occupation, under the close supervision to which they are usually subjected, would be somewhat diffident in calling in the medical officer, and doing, by way of complaint, what we hope to do by positive legislation in the Bill.
We can also claim that had it not been for the kind of effort—propaganda effort —represented in this Debate to-day, the progress that has been obtained would not have been made. I do not know why there should be so much objection to propaganda. I think that propaganda precedes action. So far as propaganda is indulged in in this direction, it is entirely justified for our purpose. Specific provision is made for people engaged in factories, shops and mines, and in other places; we claim similar specific protection for those engaged in offices. I think hon. Members will agree that it is grotesque and ironic, when we see blocks of buildings going up which are very impressive in form, that provision for the people who work therein should be so strickingly lacking and disregarded in so many respects. The existing legislation has serious gaps both geographical and otherwise, which we propose to remedy in this Measure. We recognise that some advance has been made, but that there is still considerable leeway to make up. Specific protection ought 1591 to be provided for office workers, and I hope the House will agree that the Bill provides that protection. I hope that the Bill will find commendation and acceptance in the House as a whole.
§ 2.41 p.m.
§ Sir FRANCIS FREMANTLE
I would like to make a few observations upon the Bill, because I have been active in pressing forward and insisting upon some similar provision for the last 14 years. In my file, I notice that the correspondence goes back to 1922 and 1923, and that we were not able to get much satisfaction. In 1925, matters moved a good deal. The Metropolitan Standing Joint Committee went into the question to find out whether there was need for such further provision, and, in their actual statement, they said, on 7th October, 1925:Your committee sought the views of 29 authorities in London on the subject, and replies have been received from 26 councils; 18 authorities supported the representations, and there were only eight borough councils that found no difficulty with regard to the inspection of offices. The committee have given consideration to the question of asking the Ministerand so on. I went into the question with the Minister and the officials of the Ministry of Health, and I put one or two questions. It eventually boiled down to this, that the position in law was obscure. Some medical officers of health were taking it for granted that they had power to inspect, and it was not disputed. The result to them was satisfactory on the whole. Other medical officers were not taking any such action because they felt that they had not the powers, or that it was doubtful; at any rate, they gave good reason for not doing the inspection that is certainly needed and required.
Therefore it was decided to have a test case, and the Ministry of Health hoped to see that there was such a test case. Year by year I kept asking them about that test case, but the test case never came off. I think it was decided that what must be done was to get some definite legislation and to establish the position. Therefore it came about that we had several bills for office regulation. What was practically this Bill was brought forward on very similar lines as early as 1926. I asked the Royal Sanitary Institute for their permission to examine, the Bill and report upon it. I have their 1592 letter, in which they say that the recommendations made to the council on the Office Regulation Bill were adopted and that it was decided to communicate with the Ministry of Health, the Home Office and the promoters of the Bill stating that the council approved of the objects of the Bill in providing administrative means for controlling the sanitary conditions of offices and the use of underground offices, but that they objected to the provisions set out in the Bill on the ground that they were unnecessarily onerous. That was in 1920.
The day before yesterday, I attended a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee of the Royal Sanitary Institute and asked them for their opinion on the present Bill. Their decision is exactly identical, although I do not think one of the members of that Parliamentary Committee had anything to do with the decision of the Royal Sanitary Institute 10 years ago. They are of the same view, namely, that some such provision is necessary but that it is unnecessarily onerous. Let me take the position under those two heads, first of all, that some provision is necessary. The Parliamentary Committee overlooked the fact that these provisions are, almost word for word, incorporated in the Public Health Consolidation Act which was passed in July, in the last Session of Parliament. I have not had time to compare the powers provided in the Bill with those provided in the Consolidation Act, but I was on the Joint Committee of the two Houses which considered the Consolidation Bill, and I am certain we felt that the measures there provided were sufficient. Therefore it seems to me that this Bill is probably redundant in so far as the Public Health Consolidation Act of 1936 is concerned, but that Act does not deal with London. We have not yet had a corresponding Consolidation Act for London, and, although it is to be presumed that a Consolidation Act for London would provide corresponding powers, and sufficient powers for the purpose, they are not yet incorporated in the law, and, therefore, it might be said that it is premature to count upon their being brought in, and that accordingly it is advisable to go on with the present Measure.
Passing to the second point, as to the recommendation of the Royal Sanitary Institute that the conditions are un- 1593 necessarily onerous, I do not want to go into details now, but I have communicated with the medical officer of health who, I thought, would be able to give me the most information on the subject. Unfortunately my adviser of 10 years ago, who was Medical Officer of Health for the City of London and who had particularly interested himself and taken strong and active steps in this direction, passed away some years ago, and his successor, Dr. Willoughby, passed away only this summer, so that consequently there is a vacancy at the present time. But that does not apply to other places, and one medical officer of health who has been particularly concerned with the question of office accommodation and sanitation has given me, from his inside experience, the full information that I desired. His experience is similar to the recommendation of the Royal Sanitary Institute which I have already communicated to the House, namely, that some of these conditions are unnecessarily onerous. I will give only one instance. We all know the objection that is quite rightly felt to underground basement offices, but the interpretation in this Bill is far too narrow.
Last night I was passing along New Square, Lincoln's Inn, and noticed how gaily lit up were the underground offices there, with an area of something like 12 feet in front of them, and they were certainly a great deal more than three feet below the ground level. I am certain that they are perfectly healthy, and as satisfactory to work in as a room on the ground floor but such offices would, I think, be condemned under the proposals of this Bill. There is no question that in a. large number of cases underground or internal offices have proper ventilation arrangements. That is the case, for instance, at Broadcasting House. Where the ventilation arrangements are sufficient, it does not make much difference whether the office is a closed-in apartment on the third, fifth, or 20th floor, or whether it is underground. On the other hand, there is no question that supervision of these premises is required. Everyone knows that the condition of many of these offices, in which typists and secretaries still continue to do their work, is perfectly scandalous, and I am told that in the bargain sale department of one of the big stores in this City the 1594 ventilation and accommodation are perfectly insanitary and ought to be inspected, supervised and brought up to date. [Hon. MEMBERS: "The Shops Act."] Yes, but the same thing applies to the conditions in many offices.
The objection is raised that no complaints have been received. It is quite true that medical officers of health say that they have not received much in the way of complaints, and the Ministry of Health gave that as one reason for inaction some years ago. The reason, however, is obvious. An ordinary small clerk or typist does not feel able, or, if able, does not feel in a position, to raise a complaint which will obviously be set down against him or her—
§ Mr. H. G. WILLIAMS
It has been perfectly clear since 1875 that the Statutory duty of medical officers of health is not to wait for complaints, but to inspect their districts. Can my hon. Friend give me any reason why medical officers of health have not done their plain statutory duty?
§ Sir F. FREMANTLE
I have dealt with that point already in the earlier part of my speech, which perhaps my hon. Friend did not hear. I said that out of 28 medical officers communicated with by my Standing Committee, only eight felt that they had power to do this, and that, therefore, it was felt necessary that this power should be put down in black and white. That is the practical effect, whatever my hon. Friend might have done himself if he had been a medical officer of health and if he had been prepared to risk his reputation and his future on the possibility of breaking the law. It seems to me quite clear that a great deal more needs to be done, but there is no need to be scared by what are often exaggerated statements. Certainly many statistical statements which are made in regard to ill health in offices are due to the fact that you have not an equally healthy population to deal with at the beginning, but still there is need for the provision indicated in the Bill, and I believe it will be made a necessary condition in London by the Public Health Consolidation Act, but I feel that it is a very good thing to undertake the task of putting a little "ginger" into the Government, and, therefore, I wish to support the Measure this afternoon.
§ 2.53 p.m.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)
I think, it I may say so, that my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle) made a very useful contribution to the discussion, and one which particularly impressed the House, coming from an ex-medical officer of health. Without making myself responsible for every specific detail that he mentioned, I think the general balance of his speech, in which he indicated that there was room for improvement and also that there are in existence powers which need to be understood more fully all over the country, is the proper balance to take in this discussion. Therefore, I am very glad to rise and make some observations, because I believe I am in a position to be of some assistance to the House by drawing attention to certain aspects of this matter, and to certain provisions which are now incorporated in the law.
I should like to say at the beginning that we welcome the discussion on this subject to-day, because we on this side fully appreciate, as I think the House as a whole does, the great importance of conditions in offices, because of the large section of the employed population that is at present engaged in that work. Indeed, I agree with the hon. Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) that this is a growing section of the community, and I also agree with the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) that it is very important that the conditions of the large number of women who are engaged in office work, and who, as the hon. Member said, will be the mothers of the future, should be properly safeguarded. Therefore, I can say again, as I said on the last occasion, that we are in sympathy with the general objects behind the introduction of this Bill, and we appreciate also the moderation and persuasiveness with which the hon. Member for North Camberwell moved the Second Reading. On the other hand, we are surprised that this Bill should have been introduced again, after so short a space of time, in the identical terms in which it was last moved in this House and then rejected, owing, I think, to a large extent to the assurance that I was able to give on behalf of the Government that there 1596 was at that time under consideration a draft Public Health Bill which would meet a large number of the points dealt with in the Bill. Now the position is different, because I am able to say that the undertakings that I gave on that occasion have been fulfilled. The Public Health Bill has now become the Public Health Act, and I should have thought more consideration might have been given to that aspect of the matter.
I should like to lay down a general principle which will probably have the support of the majority of the House, that this House would not wish to impose onerous new provisions and restrictions upon any section of the community unless it was sure that the purposes for which those restrictions were required were not already covered by existing legislation, and secondly, that it was really proved that there was a real need for such new legislation. I should like to deal with two of the main subjects of discussion that have been raised today. One is the question whether or not the health of office workers, as reflected in the mortality figures, is being affected at present to any degree that can be attributed to conditions in offices and, secondly, how far the provisions of the Public Health Act meet the needs of the case. The hon. Member for North Camberwell gave the impression that the mortality figures in regard to office workers was such as to make a very strong case that new provisions are required. I know from our last discussion in the House that that is a matter which is much agitating the minds of hon. Members opposite. I have been in communication with the Registrar-General in regard to this matter, because I thought it might be of interest to the House if we could give, not merely one or two ex paste figures, but a more or less judicial survey, as I believe it to be, of such existing statistics with regard to the mortality rates of this class of workers as exist. The figures are interesting. I am not endeavouring to make a strong ex paste case on one side or the other, but I should like to give the figures to the House. For example, the mortality rate for male clerks who are Civil servants is 15 per cent. below the male average up to 45 years of age and their advantage thereafter becomes progressively greater, exceeding 40 per 1597 cent, after the age of 65. The cause of this advantageous mortality rate I believe to be the high physical standard of the Civil Service at recruitment. It is not a question of the effect of office conditions.
§ Mr. AMMON
The hon. Gentleman will bear in mind, will he not, that I pointed out that until office conditions were improved in the Civil Service the mortality rates, even among selected civil servants, were very bad indeed, and I reminded him of the agitation a good many years ago which resulted in the raising of the standard. The two things must be considered together.
§ Mr. LLOYD
I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's point, although I do not believe that the improvement in the mortality rates of the Civil Service would altogether bear out the argument that he has put forward. The mortality rate of male clerks outside the Civil Service at the ages of 25 to 45 is about the same 'as males as a whole. Thereafter they exhibit a mortality about 5 per cent. higher. The question of phthisis is rather important in both groups. Here a very interesting point arises, that in the Civil Service the excess in mortality with regard to phthisis is confined to the age group from 35 to 55, and it seems probable that this excess, amounting to about 50 deaths in three years, was a delayed outcome of admission to this occupation of many unfit or invalided ex-service men after the War. This illustrates the great importance that is to be laid on the initial health conditions of workers entering into the occupation. The mortality from phthisis among clerks outside the service shows a slight excess which would be accounted for if only one out of every 100 phthisical persons in the country entered into clerical professions. I think the House will agree that there is a tendency for persons in that phthisical condition to find their living in the clerical professions. At the same time I do not think it would be wise to assume that the position is 'all against the clerical male worker because, as a matter of fact, the excess from phthisis is about equal to the decrease in mortality from accidents to clerks as compared with the general body of the population. It is true also that they have a relatively high mortality rate from 1598 angina pectoris and digestive diseases. That is offset by the low mortality from bronchitis and pneumonia.
I come now to the question of women. The mortality rates of single women engaged in clerical occupations compare very favourably with those of other single women at all ages, being in most cases about 70 per cent. of the average level. I think, again, this is an interesting point, because the reasons that lead women to go into clerical occupations are rather different from those that lead men to enter those occupations. Men have a far greater range of occupations open to them at present and, therefore, there is more likelihood for those with a particular physical weakness, such as phthisis, to go in for occupations which are less hard; whereas with regard to women, clerical occupations are just one of their normal main activities. Therefore, the fact that in the case of women the mortality rates are favourable goes to show that a factor of prime importance in the matter is the physical condition of the entrants into the occupations. Indeed, I think it is hard to resist the importance of the fact that, even in the higher age group of women engaged in clerical occupations, they still have very favourable mortality rates, and that with women who all their lives have spent their time in offices there is no indication whatever that the mortality rates are unfavourably affected by their having worked in offices. It is important to get this matter of the mortality rates in proper perspective but, of course, I would not for a moment suggest that, because the mortality figures do not show any conclusive results, therefore the question of conditions in offices is not important. It is. Conditions in offices ought to be as good as possible.
Now I come to the second part of the question, whether or not the provisions of the Public Health Act adequately deal with the problem of office conditions. I hope very much that I shall not say anything to disappoint the hon. Member for Balham (Mr. Doland), who made his maiden speech, which, I think, was much appreciated by the House. I do not think that hon. Gentlemen opposite have given adequate consideration to the very wide-reaching powers which exist under this Act and which were so well brought before the House by the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Raikes) and 1599 the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield). I should like, first of all, to deal with the question of sanitary conveniences. The provisions in Section 46 are perfectly definite, and, indeed, I should like to refer to them later on. I do not want to push the point too far, but they are, in effect, more definite and precise than the provisions in the Bill before the House to-day. It says:Every building which is used as a factory, workshop or workplace shall be provided with sufficient and satisfactory accommodation in the way of sanitary conveniences, regard being had to the number of persons employed in, or in attendance at, the building, and also, where persons of both sexes are employed or in attendance, with sufficient and satisfactory separate accommodation for persons of each sex, unless the local authority are satisfied that in the circumstances of the particular case the provision of such separate accommodation is unnecessary.The next Section, which is of great importance, is Section 92, where, Subsection (I, e) says:Any … workplace, which is not provided with sufficient means of ventilation, or in which sufficient ventilation is not mantained, or which is not kept clean or not kept free from noxious effluvia, or which is so overcrowded while work is carried on as to be prejudicial to the health of those employed therein.Then, again, in paragraph (a) of the same Sub-section there is a very important provision:Any premises in such a state as to be prejudical to health or a nuisance.When I dealt with this matter on the last occasion that a Bill of this kind was before the House, I felt, broadly speaking, that a very large number of the matters which were dealt with in the Bill were dealt with under this Act, but I was somewhat doubtful in my own mind as to whether lighting and temperature would come under the provisions of the Public Health Act or not. I have since made special inquiry, as I thought it was a matter of considerable importance, and I am able to say that, although lighting and temperature are not specifically mentioned in Section 92, I am advised that paragraph (a) of sub-section (1) which includes in the definition of statutory nuisances:Any premises in such a state as to be prejudicial to health …could be used to remedy defects in relation to lighting or temperature. That is 1600 to say, that if an office were found to be deficient in proper means of lighting or heating to such an extent as to be prejudicial to health, it could be deemed to be a nuisance by virtue of the provision which I have just quoted, and action could be taken accordingly by the local health authority to put matters right.
§ Mr. LLOYD
I am going to deal with the question of enforcement of the provisions in a moment. I think the House will agree that this provision would naturally be enforced like all other provisions of the Public Health Act. I would point out to the House that under the interpretation Section of the Act "workplace" is of course, quite definitely laid down by Statute as:any place in which persons are employed otherwise than in domestic service.That, again, is definitely dealt with, and also the right of entry of inspectors is also definitely provided for in Section 287. That is an important fact. I realise that if there is not the clear right of routine inspection, and one has to rely upon individual complaints by people working in offices, particularly small offices where few people are employed, there would be a definite risk of victimisation by unscrupulous employers.
§ Sir F. FREMANTLE
Can my hon. Friend say whether the position which he has been quoting applies to London?
§ Mr. LLOYD
I am about to come to that point. I am dealing with some of the examples of bad conditions in offices that have been mentioned by hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for North Camberwell stated that there was one case of 37 people working in one room, that the air was foetid by the afternoon, and that as a result the health of some of the girls had been injured. That case, quite definitely, comes under the provisions of the Public Health Act. That is a situation that can be dealt with under the existing law.
§ Mr. LLOYD
The hon. Member also mentioned a letter from the Association of Headmistresses, and a letter from the headmistress of a school, in which 1601 reference was made to overcrowding and lack of sanitatison. I have dealt with the question of sanitation and have pointed out that the provisions of the Public Health Act are more precise in that respect than those of the present Bill. The letter also referred to breakdown in health. Reference has also been made to cases of effluvia, overcrowding and bad ventilation. All these points are capable of being dealt with under the existing law.
Let me now deal with the question of enfercement. I have consulted my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and he informs me that the Ministry of Health intend, in a circular, to call the special attention of local authorities to their clarified powers under the Act and to the necessity for enforcement. In regard to the application of this Bill to London, I would point out that the London County Council have expressed their intention of bringing in an amending Bill to bring the law in London into proper relation to the Public Health Act. In May last, when the Public Health (London) Bill was before the Joint Committee of the Lords and Commons on Consolidation Bills, it was stated to the Committee on behalf of the London County Council that if their Consolidation Bill should be passed, as indeed it was, they proposed to follow the example of the Public Health Act, 1936, and to introduce an amending Bill as early as possible to remove the various anomalies. If hon. Members opposite feel that the London County Council have lagged behind in this important social matter, they have means in their power to bring influence to bear.
In regard to Scotland, I have a few words to say from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. In his opinion the present law in Scotland relating to health conditions in offices is much the same as the law in England as contained in the Public Health Act, 1936, and that the more important parts of this Bill are met by existing Statutes. Further, the report of the Committee on Scottish Health Services recommends the institution of a new sanitary code for Scotland, and the Committee's recommendations are at present being considered with a view to appropriate action. I am also able to say that my right hon. Friend intends to ask the Department of Health for Scotland to issue a circular to Scottish 1602 local authorities drawing attention to the provisions of the Public Health (Scotland) Acts, in their application to the regulation of offices and the desirability of the enforcement of their powers in this connection.
I want to say only one word in conclusion. I want to emphasise the profound alteration and improvement which is made by conferring a right of entry on inspectors of local authorities. As these powers are exercised we shall begin to accumulate a considerable body of authoritative information as to conditions in offices which simply does not exist at the present time. From information I have received there is no doubt that the mere presence of inspectors will have a considerably improving tendency on conditions in offices. Therefore, I must recommend the House to reject the Bill on the ground that the important provisions with which it deals are already provided for in the Public Health Act, and that there is a good prospect of these provisions being properly administered, leading to a general improvement in the conditions.
§ 3.16 p.m.
§ Mr. SH0RT
We are dealing to-day with legislation affecting the welfare of some 4,000,000 working people, including an ever increasing number of females, indeed, a rising army of clerical and office workers. What we on this side desire is the creation of a definite and precise code laying down the conditions and standards governing the workaday life of office workers. Evidence has been forthcoming from all sides of the House, and has not been denied by those who have moved and supported the rejection of the Bill, that the conditions of office workers in many cases are of a most deplorable nature. We have been accused by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield), although he has since tried to correct his statement, of 'being animated by a regard for propaganda. We are speaking for a group of people who are generally adverse to trade unions, and from whom we derive little or no political support. In the main, I think, they support the political cause of hon. Members opposite. But we are conscious that there is a grave neglect on the part of local authorities and local inspectors which we desire to see remedied. I listened to the speech of the Under-Secretary with great disappointment, and 1603 I have no doubt it will be read with equal disappointment and dismay by thousands of office workers to-morrow. Neither the Mover nor the Seconder of the Amendment, nor, indeed, any other hon. Member opposite, had anything new to say on this subject. We have a feeling that hon. Members opposite have lost all real determination to say "yes" or to be associated with anything of a progressive and constructive character, for whenever we bring forward anything affecting labour and the interests of labour we are always met with a complete negative. Hon. Members opposite seem to think that there is something sacrosanct about the law of 1875, and the provisions made by the politician Disraeli, while others seem to think that we must be conditioned by what Gladstone said in 1882, or something on that line.
What is our criticism? We know, of course, that in the Public Health Act there are provisions governing certain conditions in workplaces. I am glad that point has been made clear.listened to the very interesting maiden speech of the hon. Member for Balham (Mr. Doland), who said that when he went to work at the age of 14 he worked under conditions that were most undesirable and that affected his health. I assume that the Public Health Act of 1875 was then on the Statute Book. The provisions quoted by the Mover of the Amendment, who was ably supported at times by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams), are on the Statute Book, and we are now told that they have been reinforced, to some extent, by the passing of the Public Health Act, 1936. What is absent? It may well be, if we are content with the Public Health Act, that there is sufficient law on the matter; but there is insufficient enforcement. Medical officers 'of health and local authorities have grossly neglected their duties in this matter, and as recently as 1928, when an Inquiry was made, a report was submitted by the Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health, who said:Most of the medical officers of health 'consulted doubted whether any systematic inspection is necessary, or whether 'the results would be proportionate to the time and the expense involved.We are told by the Under-Secretary that now the Public Health Act, 1936, has been passed—it came into operation only 1604 on October 1st—the Ministry of Health is to issue a Circular calling attention to the provisions of the Act, and other Acts, in conformity therewith. But if any local authority refuses to put the provisions of the Act into operation, there is no power at present to enforce the administration and application of the Act. That is the point we are making, and it is the whole strength of our case. There has been no indication in the Debate that the Government propose to strengthen the law as far as enforcement is concerned. Apparently this great body of men and women workers who undoubtedly suffer in health from the existing conditions are to be left high and dry by the Government and, while hon. Members assure us of their sympathy, they give us no support whatever as regards the enforcement of the law.
The hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) in a racy and interesting speech made great play with the phraseology of the Bill. It may interest him to know that the phraseology of the Bill has been taken almost entirely from the Shops Act of 1934, one of the Government's own Measures for which, I have no doubt, he voted. It is seldom that the Opposition follow the example of His Majesty's Government, but on this occasion we were seeking to find language which would be appropriate to the needs of the occasion, and we considered it right to adopt the language of a previous Measure. Then the hon. and learned Member put forward the peculiar argument that it was the duty of the Minister of Health to teach employers how to treat their employes. I wish we could rely upon such a philosophy and doctrine in matters of this kind, but the whole course of our legislation indicates that we have not been able to trust employers of themselves to provide satisfactory conditions for their employes. The existence of the Factory Acts, Workmen's Compensation Acts, Shops Acts, Employment of Young Persons Acts and other Measures of that kind, indicate that we have been compelled to interfere and very properly interfere with employers in regard to the treatment of labour.
What we are concerned about above all is the enforcement of the law. We want standards and a code which will be observed, and in this Bill we seek to make it imperative on the Minister of Health—whose actions can be challenged 1605 at the Box—to see that the local authorities are carrying out their duties, and to intervene if they are not carrying out those duties. On those lines, we have inserted a proviso which enables the Minister of Health to issue an order to the person inspecting an office to take such steps as appear necessary and proper for enforcing these provisions. That provision, I venture to say, is absent from all our public health legislation at the moment. We are greatly disappointed at the attitude of the Under-Secretary and with the attitude of hon. Members opposite generally. We hope that more hon. Members opposite will take the same view as the hon. Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle), whose support we welcome, and that this Bill, which is drawn in terms of great moderation, will be sent upstairs to a Standing Committee.
We do not say that the phraseology of the Bill is complete or perfect. We do say that the case of the clerical and office workers demands legislation of this character, and I should have hoped, as my hon. Friends behind me hoped, that the House would have been willing to have given a Second Reading to the Measure, so that it might have been gone through fully by Committee, definitions might have been drawn, standards have been fixed, and a code of law established to ensure fair and reasonable treatment for office workers, whose needs no one has denied.
§ 3.31 p.m.
§ Mr. H. G. WILLIAMS
I have listened with very great interest to the vigorous and forceful speech of the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Short), whose eloquence on two occasions was so powerful that he was elected for Wednesbury instead of myself. For that reason, I have always listened with the greatest respect to everything he has said, but I was surprised that he should have been a little hard on the new Public Health Act on the ground that certain sections of it were adoptive and that he showed not a great deal of respect for what Disraeli did in 1875. On two occasions I moved the rejection of the Bill which we are now discussing—the original Bill which contained provisions so incredible, I do not know whether I should say stupid or amusing, that the sponsors never reinserted them, and on the second occasion when the Bill was substantially 1606 in the form in which it now appears. On both occasions I contended that Section 91 of the Public Health Act, 1875, laid upon medical officers of health obligations which it was their duty to carry out, and I am a little surprised that my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle) should have taken the line that he does, because he belongs to that august profession, and, after all, they are a protected body of persons. I think I am right in saying that a medical officer of health cannot be dismissed by his council without the approval of the Minister of Health. They have indeed the same protection as a chief constable has and cannot be dismissed without the sanction of the Minister. They are not in the position of servants who hold office at the pleasure of their councils. They really can enforce the law against their own councils, and I think it is a scandal that medical officers of health should have been so negligent in that respect. The people who are really being censured today are the former colleagues of my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans. If they had only done their duty properly in the past, there would not have been the faintest need for this Bill.
As on two occasions I was to some extent responsible for the rejection of the Bill—and I based myself largely at that time, so far as the general idea as distinct from the detailed provisions was concerned, on Section 91 of the Public Health Act, 1875—and as I had the privilege of being appointed by this House to serve in the last session on the Joint Select Committee of both Houses which considered the Public Health Bill, which was fundamentally a consolidation Bill but to a minor extent an amending Bill, I took great care to make sure that any conceivable doubts that negligent medical officers of health had had in the past about their powers should be set at rest. If any hon. Member cares to inquire in the Vote Office and obtain copies of the proceedings on the Public Health Bill, and will look at page 92, he will find there the very definite statement which I made in order to obtain an assurance from other Members of the Joint Select Committee and from the witnesses, in the main, officers of Government Departments who appeared before us. The representative of the Ministry of Health on that occasion made this 1607 statement. I had expressed the view that it was the duty of the authority to inspect the premises. The representative of the Ministry of Health said:I think that describes the position. It is the duty of the authority to inspect any premises which are liable to this nuisance law.Later on, in Clause 34, "premises" were defined in words about which there could be no doubt. The definition included every kind of premises whether private house, shop, factory or workplace. When we come to "workplace" in the same Clause, it has the comprehensive definition that it includes any place where persons are employed otherwise than in domestic service. It is the widest possible definition. For example, if the verger of a church is employed in the vestry, the vestry comes under that definition, for if it were overcrowded the work there would be conducted under circumstances which would be detrimental to health.
In Clause 1 (1, c) is a definition of overcrowding which is based upon the number of cubic feet, and 400 cubic feet is the allowance for persons working in an office. This Chamber is an office within the meaning of the Bill because three persons to whom we must not refer in particular, but who are in fact clerks, work here. The amount of cubic feet in the Chamber, not taking into account 12 feet above the floor, is 40,000. Therefore, this Chamber is permitted to hold
§ 100 persons when it is being used as an office. That total of 100 persons under the Bill has to include not only the hon. Members on the Floor of the House and the officers, but also those persons who are in a part of the House of which we are compelled by our customs and rules to take no notice. For the purpose of this Bill we have to take notice of them and there are in this Chamber, therefore, between three and four times as many people as would be permitted if this Bill became an Act.
§ I merely mention that as an example of the carelessness with which the Bill has been drafted. Since I see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) present, I should like to draw attention to Clause 3 (1), because it says that no underground room shall be used as an office unless it was used at the passing of the Bill. That wipes out his sins, because in 1929 or 1930 he, as First Commissioner of Works, was responsible for putting in a basement under the Board of Trade a large number of clerks whom it would have been illegal so to place if this Bill had been an Act of Parliament. As far as I know that is the only case in modern times of officials of a Government Department having been forced into rooms which, though actually perfectly healthy, would be illegal under this Bill.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 114; Noes, 169.1609
|Division No. 34.]||AYES||3.40 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Kirby, B. V.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Gardner, B. W.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lbr.)||Garro Jones, G. M.||Lawson, J. J.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Leslie, J. R.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Lunn, W.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)|
|Batey, J.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Broad, F. A.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Burke, W. A.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||MacLaren, A.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||MacNeill, Weir, L.|
|Chater, D.||Groves, T. E.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Mathers, G.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Maxton, J.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Hannah, I. C.||Messer, F.|
|Dagger, G.||Hardie, G. D.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)|
|Dalton, H.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Montague, F.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Morrison, Rt. Hn. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Noel-Baker, P. J.|
|Day, H.||Jagger, J.||Paling, W.|
|Debbie, W.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool||Parker, J.|
|Ede, J. C.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||John, W.||Potts, J.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Price, M. P.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Foot, D. M.||Kelly, W. T.||Ridley, G.|
|Frankel, D.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Ritson, J.|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)||Smith, E. (Stoke)||Whiteley, W.|
|Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Rothschild, J. A. de||Sorensen, R. W.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Rowson, G.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Sanders, W. S.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Wilson, G. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Seely, Sir H. M.||Thorne, W.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Sexton, T. M.||Thurtle, E.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Short, A.||Tinker, J. J.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Sllkin, L.||Viant, S. P.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Simpson, F. B.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)||Walker, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)||Watkins, F. C.||Mr. Ammon and Mr Creech Jones.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Elllston, G. S.||Penny, Sir G.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Petherick, M.|
|Apsley, Lord||Fildes, Sir H.||Plugge, L. F.|
|Assheton, R.||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Fraser, Capt. Sir I.||Power, Sir J. C.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Furness, S. N.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Ganzonl, Sir J.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Gluckstein, L. H.||Radford. E. A.|
|Balniel, Lord||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Granville, E. L.||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Ramer, J. R.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir E. N.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Bernays, R. H.||Grimston, R. V.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'nderry)|
|Blair, Sir R.||Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Blaker, Sir R.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Harvey, Sir G.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Holmes, J. S.||Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham)|
|Bowater, Col. Si[...] T. Vansittart||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Samuel, M. R A. (Putney)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Sandys, E. D.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Savery, Servington|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Scott, Lord William|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Keeling, E. H.||Selley, H. R.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Bull, B. B.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Leigh, Sir J.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Channon, H.||Levy, T.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Chapman, A. (Ruthergien)||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Lloyd, G. W.||Spens, W. P.|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col, R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Loftus, P. C.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'I'd)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril S. (Fulham, West)||Lumley, Capt. L. R.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Storey, S.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S.G'gs)||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'burgh, W.)||McKie, J. H.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Craven Ellis, W.||Macquisten, F. A.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd. S.)|
|Cross, R. H.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Tichfield, Marquess of|
|Crossley, A. C.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Touche, G. C.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Maxwell, S. A.||Tree, A. R L. F.|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Turton, R. H.|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Dc la Bère, R||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cir'nc'st'r)||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Doland, G. F.||Munro, P.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Dower, Capt. A. V. G.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Windsor-Cllve, Lieut Colonel G.|
|Drewe, C.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Wise, A. R.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Duggan. H. J.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Palmer, G. E. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Patrick, C. M.||Mr. Raikes and Mr. Wakefield|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Words added1610
§ Second Reading put off for six months.