HC Deb 12 May 1936 vol 312 cc251-305

5.55 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 1, line 16, to leave out "two in the afternoon," and to insert "twelve noon."

In moving this Amendment, which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) and myself, I must express regret that all the Amendments which would have provided an opportunity of discussing the hours of labour except this one, which seeks to make the finishing hour on Saturday noon instead of 2 p.m., have been ruled out. If it be true, as we on this side maintain, that an early start in the morning and a late finishing hour in the evening will have a deleterious effect on the health of the workers, of young persons in particular, there is all the more reason why the Home Office should consider seriously whether we ought not to be granted the concession sought in this Amendment. I feel quite sure that the best employers will welcome this Amendment, and that whether it he accepted or not it will operate in most cases, because experience has taught industrialists that there is a limit to endurance, and the many experiments tried in industry have shown that a long week-end granted to employés keeps them more fit to resume work on the Monday morning. From that point of view this Amendment would help at least to maintain, if not to increase, the output of a factory. When the long hours which used to be worked were gradually reduced from 60 hours a week to 50, and then to 48, output was still maintained, because the efficiency and the health of the workers were kept up—they were kept at the top of their form.

I entirely disagree with the hon. Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh), who stated on the Second Reading that the shift system affords more opportunity for leisure and recreation. I took the opportunity on Second Reading to quote from the evidence submitted to the committee of inquiry the evidence of two wit nesses who were employés under the system, and they reported that while they felt no ill-effects from it, the reason for that was that when working in the morning they went to bed early or rested during the afternoon. If that is the practice which is followed, where does the opportunity for gaining recreation come in? There is all the more reason for giving additional hours of leisure during the week-end, when recreation is provided for working-class people in particular, by curtailing the hours on Saturday from two in the afternoon until 12 noon. It is in general practice in most industries. Sometimes it is. 12 noon, or an earlier hour than that, on Saturday.

I have had it from employers on very good authority that they prefer to close down entirely on Saturdays, because they can then clean up the week's work and make preparation and organisation for commencing work on the following Monday. From the point of view of efficiency and organisation, employers would welcome the curtailing of the work on Saturday morning to 12 noon. Considering the monotony and the exactness required under the two-shift system, we think it will be absolutely necessary for the workers to be released at an earlier hour than 2 o'clock on Saturday afternoon, which is, moreover, an encroachment upon the workers' week-end, which has become a British institution. We look jealously on anything which would take that away or would lessen the opportunities of the workpeople to enjoy leisure and recreation during the weekend.

I make a strong appeal to the Under-Secretary that he should consider this very important Amendment seriously. It would be appreciated by the operatives much more than a curtailment of hours in mid-week, because they look forward to Saturday for their release from the rigid discipline of the factory so that they can get away to the recreations to which they are justly entitled. We tried to secure this alteration in Committee but it was resisted, unfortunately. We have a complete case on grounds of efficiency and organisation, as well as the health of the workers, and I hope that the appeal which we are making will lead the Under-Secretary to accept the Amendment.

6.3 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

The Bill is a kind of slippery slope. Instead of the usual 12 o'clock knocking-off time on Saturday, or one o'clock, we have now reached 2 o'clock. We are opening a fairly wide door, and that will inevitably lead to trade disputes. In places where the two-shift system is in operation, workpeople will be required to arrive at 6 o'clock in the morning and to work until 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Some of the effects of the Bill have not been thought out. In the main industries of the country a 6 o'clock starting time is unreasonable. In the constituency which I represent, where a heavy industry makes nuts and bolts, and all sorts of things like that, 7 o'clock is the recognised starting time throughout the year. If a form of two-shift system is adopted, they will have to start work at 6 o'clock on Saturday and continue to work until 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

In spite of anything we have said, the Government have made up their minds to retain the two-shift system, and the Bill will go through, but if it is necessary to have that system, surely employers might fall into line with the general shutting-down time of 12 o'clock on Saturday. That is not a great concession to ask for from those who will benefit from the two-shift system. Surely the employers are not going to thrust down the throats of the working people an extra two hours after Saturday noon. The tendency to-day is to do away altogether with working on Saturday. The heads of great firms with household reputations have talked to me on many occasions on this matter. They had persuaded themselves—I had not to persuade them—that it was not good business and was unprofitable to commence work on Saturday morning—most of them do not start until about 8 o'clock—and to work four hours. In the Bill, not only are young people to work under the disadvantages, which I am sure will be terrible, of the two-shift system, young girls having to work until 10 in the evening, but they will now have to work until 2 o'clock on Saturday.

The Under-Secretary is new to the job, and his heart must be much tenderer than that of the Home Secretary. How does he think that young boys will be able to go and see West Bromwich Albion play if they are to be kept at work? It is a serious blow to lads who take a pride in their football to be kept at work until 2 o'clock and then have to get home and change. In the winter it will be dark before they get out. I hope the Under-Secretary will reconsider this matter. Employers who will work the two-shift system can well afford to make the concession. The best employers will do so. I do not see for the life of me the necessity to tie workers down from 6 till 2. When the Departmental Committee presented the report which had not to be altered by a full stop or even a semi-colon, apparently the Secretary of State said: "Yes, this is all right, I have not a word to say about it. Just adopt it." This House has the last word to say in that matter. I suggest that we might find a tiny fault in the report in respect of this very small matter, and that the Under-Secretary can well afford to ask his right hon. Friend to make this small concession.

6.10 p.m.


Some consideration ought to be given on Saturday morning to the early shift which has been working from 6 till 2 on the ordinary days of the week. The reasons given by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment are not merely those associated with leisure, but with recreation, which is usually taken on Saturday from mid-day. In my own experience in the engineering works in which I served my apprenticeship, there was a 12 o'clock break on Saturday with half-an-hour break after working from 6 in the morning. As a result of a little agitation, it was decided that a shorter Saturday was essential to retain morale and physique, particularly of the young employés. When we were given the advantage of an early stoppage at half-past nine on Saturday morning by this firm, known throughout the Kingdom, it gave us an opportunity of recreation at such sports as football and ice hockey, suitable to the north. It is essential that the younger persons should not be subject to an encroachment upon their Saturday afternoon, which will affect not only their interests but the interests of their families. Saturday afternoon is a busy shopping day for the ordinary working-class home. If one or two members of a family are working till 2 o'clock the domestic arrangements are upset in that home, and that affects the temper and ultimately, possibly, the health of the occupants.

A few weeks ago I had the honour of presenting a shield at a football match between two schoolboy teams. The majority of those schoolboys were leaving school within the next six or 12 months. The shield that I handed was presented by an hon. Member of this House some years ago for the playing of those games. The hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. Leckie) was also a Member of the Committee on this Bill and originally presented this shield—I wonder whether he will be very anxious in future, if when the shield is handed over, if it is said that so and so's division were outclassed by Walsall because they had better facilities for getting players as a result of the operation in one district of the two-shift system, which prevented even the selection of the right teams in the Junior and upper sections in that district. I would ask the Under-Secretary, if he is empowered to express a judgment, that he should offer some little latitude, and even consider some compensation, to young persons who come under this Measure, not only for the convenience of the persons engaged in industry, but for the better content and happiness of the households of which they are members.

6.15 p.m.


I desire to add my voice to the pleas put forward by my hon. Friends. It seems almost unthinkable that, in 1936, the House of Commons should be discussing a Measure which will mean a lengthening of the working day for young people. When we get older, recreation is not such a necessity, but when boys and girls are free from their work in the factory or office it is vital that they should get some time in daylight for recreation, and that time is only available, especially in winter, if they can leave their office or workshop at a reasonable hour. It is said that constant dripping wears away the hardest stone. I would not liken the Under-Secretary to a stone, because he has been very kind to me on several occasions, but I am hoping that, if he hears the same story many times, he will realise that there is considerable weight behind it.

I can speak on this matter from some experience. I worked for 30 years or more in an office where the Saturday closing hour was not the dreadful one of 2 o'clock, as in, this Bill, but 1 o'clock. Then, in response to trade union requests, the hour was altered to 12, and I can assure the Under-Secretary that hardly any change that took place in that important office gave so much satisfaction as the shortening of the Saturday working time by one hour. If the closing time is 1 o'clock, and still more so if it is 2 o'clock, by the time the worker has got home and had a meal and cleaned and dressed himself it is tea-time, and the afternoon is gone.

We all value the week-end, and I hope the Under-Secretary will be prepared to make a change in the Bill that will extend the privilege of a reasonable weekend to the people covered by the Measure. Very many people nowadays do riot live next door to their work; they have to spend some time in journeying, which eats into the available free time on the Saturday, and, if the Under-Secretary will make the hour 12 instead of 2, it will mean a great deal to the young people. Many employers, as has been already said, have cut out the Saturday turn of duty altogether. We are not asking for that. If it would be too big a change to make the hour 12 o'clock, perhaps the hon. Gentleman would meet us by making it 1 o'clock, but at any rate I would beg him not to allow the hour of 2 o'clock to remain in the Bill.

6.18 p.m.


In listening to the speeches of hon. Members opposite, one would think that the hours of 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. which are mentioned in the Bill were compulsory hours; but is it not the case that they are permissive, and that in no case, I suppose, will the young persons work from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.? I should have thought, for instance, that the young people whose case has been quoted, who, very rightly, want to get away to see football matches on Saturdays, will be able to get away, and that in none of these cases will work go on until 2 o'clock. I should think that the trade unions would be very careful to see to it that it does not. The point about which we want to be clear is that the hours mentioned in the Bill are permissive, and not compulsory.

6.19 p.m.


Hon. Gentlemen opposite have put me, in a way, in rather a difficult position. If everything they have said to-day were correct, I must say I should feel that there was a strong case for meeting them, but as a matter of fact they have—I do not, of course, say deliberately, but under a misapprehension —made several statements to the House which do not give an altogether correct view of the situation. For example my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Mr. A. Somerville) has just made the very valuable point, which has not been mentioned on the other side, that these hours are permissive. They are the maximum hours. No longer hours can be worked than those which we are discussing at the moment. But there is nothing to prevent—


Does not the maximum tend to become normal, and would not these hours be copied by all employers everywhere?


That is not the case, because, under the present law, we could have 12-hour working, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. or from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Those are the periods mentioned in the Factory Acts, but hon. Members are well aware that, fortunately, those hours are not now worked, although I believe it is the unfortunate fact that in certain areas, where there is a great deal of work, some excessive hours are being worked. They are, however, permissible at present, and one of the advantages of the present Bill will be that they will definitely not be permissible in the case of any young person or woman to whom the Bill applies. I do not think the hon. Gentleman has really made out his case that the maximum permissible hours always become those which are in fact worked. At the present time the hours stated in the Bill, which hon. Gentlemen opposite seek to alter, are those mentioned in the Act which is extended from year to year under the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, but it is not the practice to work those hours on a Saturday in all the cases in which authorisations have been given by my right hon. Friend, so that, even in the definite case with which we are dealing, the point made by hon. Gentlemen opposite really does not quite apply.

I should like to remind hon. Gentlemen that not only is it not necessary, and will not, I think, be the case, that workers on the morning shift on Saturday will always be kept till 2 p.m., but there is the very important fact, which hon. Members opposite have not stressed, that in ordinary circumstances those workers have every other Saturday completely free from work, so that the maximum period up to 2 p.m. which we hope will not in every case be worked, can only occur on every other Saturday. If I might take the homely illustration, referred to by the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield), of the young man who wishes to go to see West Bromwich Albion, or, indeed, Aston Villa or any other local club, I would say that very likely in the Midlands these hours will not be worked up to, because I think that on the whole it is not the normal practice to do so in that part of the country; and no doubt, therefore, that young man will be able to enjoy his recreation on a Saturday afternoon; but I would also point out that under the Bill any young person working under a two-shift system will not only be able in all probability to attend the home match, but will even have an advantage over people who in the ordinary way work every Saturday, in that he will have every other Saturday completely free, so that if on one of those Saturdays Aston Villa or West Bromwich Albion were playing away in another part of the country, he would be able to travel up with the team. I give that as an illustration to show that it is not all a question of disadvantage, but that there are substantial advantages as well.

We have heard a great deal about the dreadful nature of this hour of 2 p.m. The hon. Member for Wednesbury said that we are leaving 12 o'clock and going to 2 o'clock, and that that is opening a very wide door. But, as I have pointed out, it is only doing that in regard to every other Saturday, whereas I feel bound to point out that, in the Bill introduced by hon. Gentlemen opposite, which even had the backing of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), the hours on Saturday were from 6 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon. I really think that hon. Gentlemen opposite are not treating us altogether candidly in this matter. I hope their feelings will not be wounded if I say, as I feel bound to say, that they are tending to show too much partisanship in regard to this Measure, without any regard to their own record on these matters in the past. Therefore, having cleared away some of the misconceptions and revealed the fact that hon. Gentlemen themselves have taken up a position very similar to this, except that it applied, not to every other Saturday, but to every Saturday, I feel that I could not be reasonably expected to make the alteration for which they ask.

6.27 p.m.


I should require to see the document from which the hon. Gentleman has quoted before I accept what he tells the House about it. After his speech, one would almost imagine that the two-shift system was the best for everyone. If that be the case, why should we have a single-shift system at all? If this is such a splendid arrangement for boys and girls and young women, Parliament ought to be passing a Bill to call upon everybody to work under the two-shift system. The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. A. Somerville) has said that the hours of 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays are, after all, permissive, but he will pardon my telling him that I have yet to find an employer who will not utilise and absorb all the permissive hours that are given to him under the law, except where the trade union is strong enough to prevent it. In this case, however, as we have pointed out many times, we are dealing with women and young persons, and young persons under 16 do not take part in trade union activities to the extent of governing their conditions of employment. What is the use, therefore, of talking about trade union activities in this connection?

The Under-Secretary would have us believe that all is well under the two-shift system, that if we carry the wording of this Clause, and say that these women and young persons shall be employed up to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, employers will not avail themselves of that permission, but will still finish at noon. If that argument holds good, why cannot our Amendment be accepted If it be true that employers do not intend to utilise, and do not now utilise, all the hours up to 2 p.m., that they are all decent folk, that they all have the welfare of their em-

ployés at heart and will close their factories at 12, why cannot the hon. Gentleman accept our Amendment He knows, however, as well as I do, and everyone who reads the excellent report of the Chief Inspector of Factories will know, that Parliament is never called upon at any time to pass legislation to meet the case of the decent employer.

We have always to legislate for that minority of employers who will never do the right thing by their employés unless they are compelled. That is why we have tabled this Amendment. I am opposed to the two-shift system altogether. I suppose some Members will live long enough to see the vast majority of women and young persons employed under it. It is very sad that in 1936, for the first time probably in half a century, Parliament is going to give permission to employers to employ women and young persons up to two o'clock on Saturday. Let us make it clear that any one who votes against our Amendment is voting for the possibility of women arid young persons being employed on Saturday up to two o'clock, which is against the custom in nearly all the factories in the country at the moment.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 266; Noes, 103.

Division No. 178.] AYES. [6.33 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Crooke, J. S.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Bull, B. B. Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Burgln, Dr. E. L. Croom-Johnson, R. P.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Burton, Col. H. W. Cross, R. H.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G Butler, R. A. Crossley, A. C.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Campbell, Sir E. T. Crowder, J. F. E.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Cartland, J. R. H. Culverwell, C. T.
Apsley, Lord Cary, R. A. Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.
Aske, Sir R. W. Castlereagh, Viscount Davies, C. (Montgomery)
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Cautley, Sir H. S. Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovll)
Atholl, Duchess of Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Denman, Hon. R. D.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Denville, Alfred
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (lsle of Thanet) Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br.W.) Dodd, J. S.
Balnlel, Lord Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb'fn) Donner, P. W.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Channon, H. Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.
Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury) Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Dower, Capt. A. V. G.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.) Drewe, C.
Bennett, Capt. Sir E. N. Christie, J. A. Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)
Bernays, R. H. Clarke, F. E. Dugdale, Major T. L.
Blrchall, Sir J. D. Clarry, Sir Reginald Duncan, J. A. L.
Blair, Sir R. Cobb, Sir C. S. Dunglass, Lord
Bllndell, Sir J. Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir G. P. Dunne, P. R. R.
Boulton, W. W. Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Eastwood, J. F.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vanslttart Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W. Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff(W'st'r S.G'gs) Ellis, Sir G.
Boyce, H. Leslie Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Emery, J. F.
Brass, Sir W. Courtauld, Major J. S. Emrys-Evans, P. V.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Courthope, Col. Sir G. L. Entwistle, C. F.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Craddock, Sir R. H. Erskine Hill, A. G.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Craven-Ellis, W. Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Critchley, A. Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)
Everard, W. L. M'Connell, Sir J. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Fildes, Sir H. McCorquodale, M. S. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Findlay, Sir E. MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J, R. (Scot. U.) Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)
Foot, D. M. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross) Savery, Servington
Fox, Sir G. W. G. MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Scott, Lord William
Furness, S. N. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Seely, Sir H. M.
Fyfe, D. P. M. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Selley, H. R.
Ganzonl, Sir J. McKie, J. H. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Maclay. Hon. J. P. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Gibson, C. G. Magnay, T. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Goldle, N. B. Mander, G. le M. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Gower, Sir R. V. Manningham-Buller, Sir M. Smithers, Sir W.
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Gridley, Sir A. B. Markham, S. F. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Maxwell, S. A. Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.
Grlmsion, R. V. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.
Gunston, Capt. D. W. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Spender-Clay, Lt.-Cl. Rt. Hn. H. H.
Guy, J. C. M. Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Spens, W. P.
Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Morelng, A. C. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Hannah, I. C. Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Unlv's.) Storey, S.
Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Morrison, W. S. (Clrencester) Stourton, Hon. J. J.
Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan Munro, P. Strauss, H, G. (Norwich)
Hepworth, J. Nail, Sir J. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.) Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Herbert, Major T. A. (Monmouth) Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Holdsworth, H. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. Sutcliffe, H.
Holmes, J. S. Owen, Major G. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Hopkinson, A. Palmer, G. E. H. Tate, Mavis C
Hore-Bellsha, Rt. Hon. L. Peat, C. U. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Horsbrugh, Florence Penny, Sir G. Titchfield, Marquess of
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Perkins, W. R. D. Train, Sir J.
Hunter, T. Peters, Dr. S. J. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Petherick, M. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Jackson, Sir H. Pilkington, R. Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.
Joel, D. J. B. Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Turton, R. H.
Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Porritt, R. W. Wakefield, W. W.
Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Procter, Major H. A. Wallace, Captain Euan
Jones, L. (Swansea, W.I Radford, E. A. Ward, Lieut-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Unlvs.) Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Ward, Irene (Wallsend)
Kirkpatrick, W. M. Ramsbotham, H. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Ramsden, Sir E. Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. Ratnbone, J. R. (Bodmln) Wells, S. R.
Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Rawson, Sir Cooper White, H. Graham
Leckie, J. A. Rayner, Major R. H. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. H.
Leech, Dr. J. W. Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Lees-Jones, J. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down) Windsor-Clive. Lieut.-Colonel G.
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Reid, W. Allan (Derby) Winterton, Rt. Hen. Earl
Levy, T. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Withers, Sir J. J.
Lewis, O. Ropner, Colonel L. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Llddall, W. S. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'derry) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Lloyd, G. W. Ross Taylor, W. (Wcodbridge) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Loftus, P. C. Rowlands, G.
Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Ruggles-Brlse, Colonel Sir E. A. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Lyons, A. M. Runciman, Rt. Hon. W. Dr. Morris-Jones and Lieut.-Colonel
Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Russell, A. West (Tynemouth) Llewellin.
Adams, D. (Consett) Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.
Adamson, W. M. Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Kirby, B. V.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Gallacher, W. Lathan, G.
Ammon, C. G. Gardner, B. W. Leach, W.
Banfield, J. W. Gibbins, J. Lee, F.
Barr, J. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Leonard, W.
Batey, J. Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Leslie, J. R.
Bellenger, F. Groves, T. E. Logan, D. G.
Benson, G. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Lunn, W.
Bevan, A. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Macdonald, G. (Ince)
Bromfield, W. Hardle, G. D. McEntee, V. La T.
Brooke, W. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) McGhee, H. G,
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Henderson, J. (Ardwlck) MacLaren, A.
Burke, W. A, Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Maclean, N.
Cassells, T. Hills, A. (Pontefract) MacNeill, Weir, L.
Chater, D. Holland, A. Marklew, E.
Cluse, W. S. Hollins, A. Marshall, F.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Hopkin, D. Mathers, G.
Cocks, F. S. Jagger, J. Messer, F.
Compton, J. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Milner, Major J.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford John, W. Montague. F.
Daggar, G. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham N.)
Davies. R. J. (Westhoughton) Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Muff, G.
Ede, J. C. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Oliver, G. H.
Paling, W. Short, A. Watkins, F. C.
Parker, H. J. H. Simpson, F. B. Watson, W. McL.
Parkinson, J. A. Smith, E. (Stoke) Welsh, J. C.
Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Sorensen, R. W. Westwood, J.
Potts, J. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-lc-Sp'ng) Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Price, M. P. Thorne, W. Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Richards, R. (Wrexham) Thurtle, E. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens) Tinker, J. J. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Rowson, G. Viant, S. P. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Sexton, T. M. Walkden, A. G.
Shinwell, E. Walker, J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Charleton.

6.42 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 1, line 19, to leave out "an average of."

The object of this Amendment is to prevent in any circumstances women and young persons being employed on the two-shift system for as long as 12 hours in a day in some cases and 10 hours in a day in all cases. The Bill certainly provides that the hours worked in a week cannot exceed 48 and the hours worked in two consecutive weeks cannot exceed 84, and it is reasonable to presume that in an ordinary working week nothing worse than the abominable conditions that were spoken of on the last Amendment are likely to happen, but in weeks where one or more holidays take place the position may easily be very different, and with a maximum of 48 hours in the August bank holiday week, it would be possible for an employer to work these women and young persons, if it was a five-day factory, 48 hours in four days, or 12 hours a day for every working day in that week. I am frankly putting the extreme number of hours which the worst employer could in the holiday week work his employés, but quite ordinarily it is possible under the Bill, by means of having a short working day, to have one or more days in the week where the hours may be 12.

There are certain industries where it would be particularly advantageous to an unscrupulous employer to use the loopholes of the Act in its present form, notably the laundry industry, where the employer is not very particular how many hours he works his employés on Monday, or even on Tuesday morning, but he is very anxious to work them the maximum number of hours on Thursday, and particularly on Friday. We think that, to prevent the working of hours in excess of eight where women and young persons are working on the shift system, it is essential that the words, "an average of," should be taken out of the Clause. It would mean that at least no woman or young person could work in one day longer than from six o'clock in the morning until two o'clock, or from two o'clock in the afternoon until 10 o'clock at night. It is impossible in the Bill that they should start before six o'clock, or that they should finish after 10 o'clock, but between those hours, as the Bill now stands, it is possible for very long hours to be worked on one day. The advantage of the shift system to the employer is such that at least he ought to be compelled not to exceed the maximum of eight hours in any one day in respect of any person employed under the shift system.

6.46 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

The intention of leaving out these words is to deal mainly with occupations in which there are at certain times of the week rush periods, which entail abnormal hours of working. We, therefore, ask that the words should be deleted from the Clause, and I hope that the House will agree to that course.

6.47 p.m.


I really hope on this Amendment to be able to convince hon. Gentlemen opposite that the Amendment is unnecessary. I will deal, first of all, with the question why the Amendment is not necessary for securing the purposes they wish to secure, because these dangers are already provided against under the existing provisions of the Bill, and, secondly, with the question why there is a good and positive reason for keeping the word "average" in the Bill. I quite appreciate the point of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Clayton (Mr. Jagger) about the danger that there might be some unscrupulous employer causing long hours on particular days. It would be abusing the provisions of the Act if he were able to do it. That is one of the points made by the hon. Gentleman. That cannot be done under the Bill as it stands at present. In each authorisation the Home Secretary lays down exactly the hours of the shift for every day in the week, and this cannot be altered by an employer, even if he wants to alter it. They are the legal hours and cannot be exceeded.


I do not want to leave it to any person to lay down hours which may be as bad as I have said.


The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that we must look upon this matter as a practical one, and I assure him that there has never been a proposal made to the Home Office in all the years that this system has been in operation by any employer for a freak system of hours such as he suggests. I can certainly give him the assurance that, if such a freak proposal were made, it would not be entertained by the Department.


Then why not accept the Amendment


I will in a moment give the hon. Gentleman the reason why there are grave objections to the Amendment. I think that the hon. Gentleman feels that if there was no work done on a particular day, the employer might add the hours of that day on to another day. It cannot happen because the Secretary of State lays down the hours that are to be worked on particular days, and the fact that there is a holiday on a particular day of work does not entitled an employer to add those hours to the next day. He has to work the hours laid down by the Secretary of State for that day. Those are the reasons why we cannot accept, and do not think that it is necessary to have, the Amendment which the hon. Gentleman has moved. There is another reason why we feel that the word "average" should be retained. It often happens in a factory that the workers desire, for particular reasons, such as meal times and other reasons—and the House will appreciate the immense variety of individual circumstances existing all over the country—to have the afternoon shift longer than the morning shift. Sometimes shifts have been fixed from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. alternating weekly. This is a very complicated matter, as the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, but that system has been found to be convenient for the workers in certain factories, and although it comes within the average of eight hours, it could not be worked if the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman were accepted and a rigid limit of eight hours were imposed instead. Those are the practical reasons why we feel that we cannot accept the Amendment.

6.53 p.m.


My hon. Friend the Member for Clayton (Mr. Jagger) has done good service by raising this technical problem of dividing up the hours. I would prefer to see his Amendment put into the Bill, but if the Under-Secretary of State can give a definite undertaking that none of the things which my hon. Friend has raised can possibly happen when the order is issued and the number of hours are stipulated for each day, I wonder whether my hon. Friend and the Seconder of the Amend-men will think it necessary to press the Amendment to a Division.

6.54 p.m.


I want to know something more about the average. Years ago we had such a word in agreements with regard to working conditions between employers and employed, and we found it necessary to strike it out. The eight hours may be extended to nine hours a day. It may be from 1 o'clock in the afternoon until 10 o'clock at night, or the hours in the morning may be extended. For what period is the average to be taken? Does the Home Secretary intend to take it over a period of six months, 12 months, or a month? There is nothing here which states the period. In a seasonal trade, for instance, will the average be for some indefinite period. This is going to be a loophole for all the smart foremen and managers in the country who cause so much trouble in these days with regard to the conditions of work. The more one hears explanations of the provisions of this Bill, the more one is inclined to think that it has been promoted by the worst employers in the country.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 248; Noes, 101.

Division No. 179.] AYES. [6.55 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Flndlay, Sir E. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Foot, D. M. Owen, Major G.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Fox, Sir G. W. G. Palmer, G. E. H.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Furness, S. N. Peat, C. U.
Agnew, Lieut. Comdr. p. G. Fyfe, D. P. M. Penny, Sir G.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Ganzoni, Sir J. Perkins, W. R. D.
Apsley, Lord George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Peters, Dr. S. J.
Aske, Sir R. W. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Petherick, M.
Astor. Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Gibson, C. G. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Atholl, Duchess of Goldie, N. B. Plikington, R.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Gower, Sir R. V. Ponsonby, Col. C. E,
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Porritt, R. W.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Gridley, Sir A. B. Procter, Major H. A.
Balnlel, Lord Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Radlord, E. A.
Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury) Grimston, R. V. Ralkes, H. V. A. M.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Gritten, W. G. Howard Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.
Bennett, Capt. Sir E. N. Gunston, Capt. D. W. Ramsbotham, H.
Bernays, R. H. Guy, J. C. M. Ramsden, Sir E.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Blair, Sir R. Hanbury, Sir C. Rawson, Sir Cooper
Bllndell, Sir J. Hannah, I. C. Rayner, Major R. H.
Boulton, W. W. Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Harbord, A. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Boyce, H. Leslie Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Reid, W. Allen (Derby)
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Ropner, Colonel L.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Hepworth, J. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'derry)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Browne, A. C. (Bellast, W.) Holdsworth, H. Rowlands, G.
Bull, B. B. Holmes, J. S. Runciman, Rt. Hon. W.
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Hopkinson, A. Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)
Burton, Col. H. W. Horsbrugh, Florence Russell, R. J. (Eddlsbury)
Campbell, Sir E. T. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Cartland, J. R. H. Hunter, T. Salt, E. W.
Cary, R. A. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)
Castlereagh, Viscount Jackson, Sir H. Savery, Servington
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Joel, D. J. B. Scott, Lord William
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Jones, Sir G. W. JH. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Seely, Sir H. M.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br.W.) Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Selley, H. R.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Jones, L. (Swansea, W.) Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Channon, H. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Kirkpatrick, W. M. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.) Lamb, Sir J. Q. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Christle, J. A. Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. Smithers, Sir W.
Clarke, F. E. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Clarry, Sir Reginald Leckie, J. A. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Clydesdale, Marquess of Leech, Dr. J. W. Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.
Cobb, Sir C. S. Lees- Jones, J. Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.
Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Spender-Clay, Lt.-Ct. Rt. Hn. H. H.
Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Levy, T. Spens, W. P.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Lewis, O. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (Wm'l'd)
Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff(W'st'r S.G'gs) Liddall, W. S. Storey, S.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh,W.) Lindsay, K. M. Stourton, Hon. J. J.
Craven-Ellis, W. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Critchley, A. Lioyd, G. W. Srauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Crooke, J. S. Locker- Lampson, Comdr. O. S. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Loftus, P. C. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Cross, R. H. Lyons, A. M. Sutcliffe, H.
Crossley, A. C. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Tasker, Sir R. I.
Crowder, J. F. E. M'Co[...]nell, Sir J. Tate, Mavis C.
Davies, C. (Montgomery) MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.) Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovll) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross) Titchfield, Marquess of
Denman, Hon. R. D. MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Train, Sir J.
Denville, Alfred Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Tree, A. R. L. F.
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Dodd, J. S. McKie, J. H. Tufnell, Lieut. -Com. R. L.
Donner, P. W. Maclay, Hon. J. P. Wakefield, W. W.
Dorman-Smith, Major R. H. Magnay, T. Wallace, Captain Euan
Drewe, C. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Ward, Lieut. -Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop) Markham, S. F. Ward, Irene (Wallsend)
Dugdale, Major T. L. Maxwell, S. A. Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Dunglass, Lord Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Wells, S. R.
Dunne, P. R. R. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) White, H. Graham
Eastwood, J. F. Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Wlckham, Lt.-Col. E. T. H.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Moreing, A. C. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Ellis, Sir G. Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.) Windsor-Clive, Lleut.-Colonel G.
Emery, J. F. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Unlv's.) Withers, Sir J. J.
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Entwistle, C. F. Mulrhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Erskine Hill A. G. Munro, P.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Nail, Sir J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H. Dr. Morris-Jones and Captain
Fildes, Sir H. Nicolson, Hon. H, G. Waterhouse.
Adams, D. (Consett) Holland, A. Parkinson, J. A.
Adamson, W. M. Hollins, A. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Hopkin, D. Potts, J.
Banfield, J. W. Jagger, J. Price, M. P.
Barr, J. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Bellenger, F. John, W. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Benson, G. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Rowson, G.
Bevan, A. Jones, Morgan (Caerphily) Sexton, T. M.
Bromfield, W. Kelly, W. T. Shinwell, E.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Short, A.
Burke, W. A. Kirby, B. V. Simpson, F. B.
Casselis, T. Lathan, G. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Chater, D. Leach, W. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Cluse, W. S. Lee, F. Sorensen, R. W.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Leonard, W. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Cocks, F. S. Logan, D. G. Thorne, W.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Lunn, W. Thurtle, E.
Daggar, G. Macdonald, G. (Ince) Tinker, J. J.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) McGhee, H. G. Viant, S. P.
Day, H. MacLaren, A. Walkden, A. G.
Ede, J. C. Maclean, N. Walker, J.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) MacNeill, Weir, L. Watkins, F. C.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Mainwaring, W. H. Watson, W. McL.
Gardner, B. W. Wander, G. le M. Welsh, J. C.
Garro-Jones, G. M. Marklew, E. Westwood, J.
Gibbins, J. Marshall, F. Whiteley, W.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Mathers, G. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Messer, F. Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Milner, Major J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Montague, F. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Hardle, G. D. Morrison, R. C. (Tott[...]nham. N.) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Muff, G.
Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Oliver, G. H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Paling, W. Mr. Groves and Mr. Charleton.
Hills, A. (Pontelract) Parker, H. J. H.

7.5 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 15, to leave out "the," and to insert "a two-thirds."

Sub-section (2) of Clause 1 provides that the Secretary of State may make arrangements to see that a secret ballot of the workpeople concerned shall be taken before the order is granted for a two-shift system to be operated in any factory or workshop. That was a concession which we secured in Committee and we were glad of it. We hope to carry the point a little further by suggesting that a simple majority of the workpeople is not sufficient for this purpose. This is not an ordinary election or ballot. Even with the best employer, if he wants the order, it will be very difficult for his workpeople to vote against his wishes, and therefore we think that a simple majority is not a sufficient expression of the wishes of the people concerned. Let the House imagine a factory, employing women and young persons, where the employer comes to the conclusion that it would be good business for him to secure the two-shift system. All that he need do is to tell his workpeople that unless he can get this order it is possible that he will have to close down his factory. When he says that he will be speaking his own mind, but what is the position of a secret ballot of the workpeople concerned taken under conditions of that kind? No secret ballot in that case could ever be a picture of the mind of the workpeople, especially if it were a simple majority. The vast majority of employers do not want to take advantage of their work-people in this connection, but even the influence of the decent employer on the workpeople would be such that a simple majority would not be sufficient, and therefore we propose to make the majority one of two-thirds.

7.10 p.m.


I hope that this Amendment will not be accepted. I have been interested, listening to the hon. Member's speech, to realise that when the result of a ballot is known it will not be a picture of the workpeople's mind, but that somehow or other it will be a picture of their mind if there is a two-thirds majority. What is the difference?




Why should it be that more people in a factory should have to declare that they are working under a system which they do not like? Why should we say if it is a simple majority that it is not a picture of the work-people's mind Why should the hon. Member think that the people who vote for one side must be giving their mind correctly and that the people who vote for the other side are doing it under duress? If half the people in a factory wish to work the two-shift system why should they not be able to have it? Why should not the people decide for themselves? One of the best parts of this Bill is that the workpeople themselves are getting a chance of deciding. I am anxious for a secret ballot, but I cannot see why the balance should be weighted in the way which has been suggested, and why, if more than half of the people in a factory wish to have the two-shift system, we should prevent them having it. I hope that this Amendment will not be accepted, so that the will of the workpeople can be known and so that they can decide whether or not they will have the two-shift system.

7.12 p.m.


The hon. Lady argued well on her point and as democrats it is difficult for us to speak against a majority vote not being conclusive. But I would like the Noble Lady—


Not yet.


It does not make much difference and you are just as much entitled to the Noble as other people are. The point we have in mind is the coercion of the bad employer. We have all gone through it, both in the mine and in the factory. We know that pressure can be exerted and that when an employer desires such a change he goes round to his workpeople and tries by persuasion to get them to see his point of view. That may have an effect on some, and we want to prevent that kind of pressure and to arrange for a substantial majority. We are asking that there shall be a clear and definite indication of the mind of the workpeople before a change is made. That is the only reason for this Amendment and I do not want it urged against me on a future occasion when I am supporting a bare majority.

7.14 p.m.


The hon. Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) would perhaps be interested in having her attention drawn to the fact that there exists in this country, in relation to trade union and friendly society activities, a good deal of legislation which insists on a two-thirds majority. If we were discussing any wide piece of that mass of legislation the hon. Lady would be opposing any change in such a majority proposed from these benches. There is no special virtue in either a simple or a two-thirds majority in itself. Both have their virtue in relation to given conditions. In certain circumstances even a trade union might voluntarily insist on a two-thirds majority. For example, my own organisation would insist on a certain percentage majority in order to arrive at certain decisions. Any percentage less would not be deemed to reflect the considered view of the membership. So it is in other directions. In this case the Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend is fully justified. It will in fact give the only fair opportunity of finding exactly what the majority of the workpeople really mean at a given time.

7.15 p.m.


Hon. Members in discussing the Amendment are carried away a considerable distance in their argument. We have had arguments to show that there is no special virtue in a bare majority and that there are circumstances in which it is much safer to have a two-thirds majority.


If the hon. Member is quoting me, will he quote me correctly? I said that there is no special virtue in a bare majority in itself, nor is there any special virtue in a, two-thirds majority in itself. Both receive their virtue, if any, under given conditions.


I only wish to point out that people may have very different views about the circumstances. For example, it would appear to hon. Members opposite in a very different light if a proposal were brought forward that it would be necessary to have a two-thirds majority for turning out the Government. At the same time a very strong case could be put up for the status quo, and in support of the view that before you upset the existing position and make a change you should have something stronger than a bare majority. I merely give this argument as an example of how far we can get carried away once we depart from the principle that a bare majority should be able to decide a question and should be valid, whether in this House or elsewhere. I feel that on the whole we ought not to abandon the principle of the bare majority.

I do not want hon. Members opposite to think that I am not dealing with their Amendment on a serious basis. I appreciate the point made, that pressure may be brought to bear, but I would point out that there is nothing to prevent the workpeople being in constant communication with their trade unions in regard to this matter. There is nothing to prevent them from consulting their leaders. If there is pressure they can consult their organisation about it. In actual practice at the present time, although there has not been a secret ballot, and although it has been ascertainable by the employers which way the employés have voted, on many occasions in recent years they have voted against the proposal. We take the view that the secret ballot that has been put into the Bill at the suggestion of the senior Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) is a perfect safeguard, and I think that her point is a just one, that there may be a number of workpeople who want this system. Why, then, should they be penalised by having to get a two-thirds majority for it, when already more

than half the workpeople in the factory want this particular system? There has not been a sufficient case made out for the Amendment. The real motive of the Amendment springs from the fact that hon. Members opposite are suspicious of the system and hostile to it and are using their opportunity to put obstacles in the way of its operation. That is an unfair position for them to adopt. Let the system have a fair trial in those places where the workpeople by a majority desire it.


As the hon. Member is so concerned about taking into account the wishes of the workpeople, will he say why it is that when two bodies of work-people wish to amalgamate into one trade union it is necessary by law to have a two-thirds majority, yet if the workpeople in a factory, under this Bill, desire to make a change, it can be done by a bare majority? Perhaps he will distinguish why a two-thirds majority is necessary in one case and only a bare majority in this case.


I could not distinguish without knowing the circumstances.

Question put, "That the word 'the' stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 238; Noes, 104.

Division No. 180.] AYES. [7.21 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Cary, R. A. Dunglass, Lord
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Dunne, P. R. R.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Eastwood, J. F.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.
Apsley, Lord Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br.W.) Ellis, Sir G.
Aske, Sir R. W. Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Emery, J. F.
Assheton, R. Channon, H. Emrys-Evans, P. V.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.) Entwistle, C. F.
Atholl, Duchess of Christie, J. A. Erskine Hill, A. G.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Clarke, F. E. Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Clarry, Sir Reginald Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)
Balfour, Capt. H. H.(Isle of Thanet) Clydesdale, Marquess of Fildes, Sir H.
Balnlel, Lord Cobb, Sir C. S. Findlay, Sir E.
Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury) Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J. Foot, D. M.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Fremantle, Sir F. E.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith S.) Furness, S. N.
Blair, Sir R. Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff(W'st'r S.G'gs) Fyfe, D. P. M.
Blindell, Sir J. Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Ganzoni, Sir J.
Boulton, W. W. Craven-Ellis, W. George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Critchley, A. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)
Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W. Crooke, J. S. Goldle, N. B.
Boyce, H. Leslie Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Gower, Sir R. V.
Brass, Sir W. Croom-Johnson, R. P. Gridley, Sir A. B.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Crossley, A. C. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Crowder, J. F. E. Grimston, R. V.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Davies, C. (Montgomery) Gritten, W. G. Howard
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Denman, Hon. R. D. Gunston, Capt. D. W.
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Denville, Alfred Guy, J. C. M.
Bull, B. B. Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Hacking. Rt. Hon. D. H.
Burghley, Lord Dodd, J. S. Hanbury, Sir C.
Burgln, Dr. E. L. Donner, P. W. Hannah, I. C.
Burton, Col. H. W. Dorman-Smith, Major R. H. Hannon, Sir P. J. H.
Butler, R. A. Drewe, C. Harbord, A.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Dugdala. Major T. L. Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)
Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Hepworth, J. Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester) Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Herbert, Major J, A. (Monmouth) Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Holdsworth, H. Munro, P. Smithers, Sir W.
Holmes, J. S. Nall, Sir J. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Hopkinson, A. Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Horsbrugh, Florence Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.
Hudson, R. S. (Southport) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. Spens, W. P.
Hunter, T. Orr-Ewlng, I. L. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'I'd)
Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Owen, Major G. Storey, S.
Jackson, Sir H. Palmer, G. E. H. Stourton, Hon. J. J.
Joel, D. J. B. Peat, C. U. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Penny, Sir G. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Perkins, W. R. D. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Kerr, J. G. (Scottish Universities) Peters, Dr. S. J. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Kirkpatrick, W. M. Petherick, M. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Plckthorn, K. W. M. Sutcliffe, H.
Leech, Dr. J. W. Pilkington, R. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Lees-Jones, J. Porritt, R. W. Tate, Mavis C.
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Procter, Major H. A. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Levy, T. Radford, E. A. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Lewis, O. Raikes, H. V. A. M. Titchfield, Marquess of
Liddall, W. S. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Train, Sir J.
Lindsay, K. M. Ramsden, Sir E. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Liewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Lloyd, G. W. Rawson, Sir Cooper Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.
Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S. Rayner, Major R. H. Wakefield. W. W.
Loftus, P. C. Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Wallace, Captain Euan
Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Lyons, A. M. Reid, W. Allan (Derby) Ward, Irene (Wallsend)
Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Water-house, Captain C.
M'Connell, [...]J. Ropner, Colonel L. Wedderburn, H. J. S.
McCorquodale, M. S. Ross, Major Sir R. D, (L'derry) Wells, S. R.
MacDonald Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.) Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) White, H. Graham
McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Rothschild, J. A. de Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T, R.
McKie, J. H. Rowlands, G. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Magnay, T. Russell, A. West (Tynemouth) Wise, A. R.
Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Withers, Sir J. J.
Ma[...]kham, S. F. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Maxwell, S. A. Salt, E. W. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)
Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Savery, Servington TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Scott, Lord William Major George Davies and Mr. Cross.
Moreing, A. C. Seely, Sir H. M.
Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.) Selley, H. R.
Adams, D. (Consett) Hardle, G. D. Oliver, G. H.
Adamson, W. M. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Parker, H. J. H.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Parkinson, J. A.
Banfield, J. W. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Barr, J. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Potts, J.
Bellenger, F. Holland, A. Price, M. P.
Benson, G. Hollins, A. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Bevan, A. Hopkin, D. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Bromfield, W. Jagger, J. Rowson, G.
Brooke, W, Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Sexton, T. M.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Shinwell, E.
Burke, W. A. John, W. Short, A.
Cassells, T. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Simpson, F. B.
Charleton, H. C. Kelly, W. T. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Chater, D. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Cluse, W. S. Kirby, B. V. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Lathan, G. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Cocks, F. S. Leach, W. Thorne, W.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Lee, F. Thurtle, E.
Daggar, G. Leonard, W. Tinker, J. J.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Lunn, W. Viant, S. P.
Day. H. Macdonald, G. (Ince) Walkden, A. G.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) McGhee, H. G. Walker, J.
Ede, J. C. MacLaren. A. Watkins, F. C.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Maclean, N. Watson, W. McL.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) MacNelll, Weir, L. Welsh, J. C.
Gardner, B. W. Mainwaring, W. H. Westwood, J.
Garro-Jones, G. M. Mander, G. le M. Wilkinson, Ellen
Gibbins, J. Marklew, E. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Marshall, F. Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A, Mathers, G. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Griffiths G. A. (Hemsworth) Messer, F. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Griffiths, J. (Lianelly) Milner, Major J.
Groves, T. E. Montague, F. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hall, G. H. (Anerdare) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Mr. Paling and Mr. Whiteley.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Muff, G.

7.30 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out lines 18 to 26.

This Amendment would have the effect of cutting out entirely the proviso under which the consent of the employés need not be required before the two-shift system is adopted in the case of new factories. I suggest that this proviso violates the first principle of democratic control. With regard to any factory biult after this date, the democratic control over the two-shift system by the women who are going to suffer from it is completely cut out, and this is very serious at a time when we are scrapping and rebuilding factories, when we are moving factories, when factories disappear almost in a night and are replaced by others, because it simply renders a very large part of the Bill null and void. I also suggest that this provision makes a very unfair discrimination. If you have Mr. Jones, who has an old factory, he has to get the consent of his workpeople before he can introduce the two-shift system, but his competitor, Mr. Brown, may have just completed a new factory, and he need not ask his workpeople.

Previously it could have been said that the saving effected by adopting the two-shift system would not be sufficient to justify moving into a new factory, but I am not so sure that that will be the case now, when factories are being put up at very low rates of interest and when, as a matter of fact, it may even mean a possible saving from heavy rates to move into a new district. This may be an extra inducement for people to move out of the heavily rated areas into the new areas, where we do not want them to go and where there will be the added inducement that they will not have to ask permission to get their workers on the two-shift system. There is a third matter, which is even more important, and that is that we are now at a new stage in the rearmament proposals of the Government. There will be enormous munition factories erected in the course of the next year or two, and the whole of these vast new industries in the new areas will not be subject to democratic control by the workers in them. This will be a special disadvantage for some of those girls who may be filling shells, or working on T.N.T. and those kinds of munition work which did the girls' health so much damage during the War. In this case those girls who will most need protection in against the two-shift system will be the very people who will not have it.

Finally, I would point out that there is no reason at all why this new set of workers should not have the same rights as the old. It is possible to say that they will know the terms on which they are engaged and that if they do not want to go to that work, they need not do so, but as more and more factories apply this system, that argument will not be valid; and there is the added fact that it will then be possible for the Employment Exchanges to refuse benefits to those who refuse to accept work under the two-shift system, so that you will have something like compulsion. I suggest that to leave this Clause as it stands proves the insincerity of the Government when they claim that the whole matter is being democratically controlled and that the workers have a voice in it. I suggest that hon. Members opposite who want to see this system put into operation with the least possible amount of friction would do well to support the Amendment.

7.36 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

From the time when this Bill was introduced I have been much more concerned about protecting a different class of workers from the one to which the hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) has just referred. Every day we are getting foreign employers coming here and opening up businesses in the luxury trades, such as wireless, electrical fitments, and so on, which have absolutely no trade union organisation, and we are desirous that the workpeople in these works and factories shall at least have a voice in saying whether or not they are prepared to work under this two-shift system. I have not lost an hour's sleep about the Lancashire cotton trade operatives or the engineering operatives about whom the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) is concerned, in regard to the operation of this Bill. We can look after ourselves, and we shall, but it is this new class of labourers which is being increasingly brought in for whom we are concerned. The only reason for bringing in this Bill is to enable this class of employer to exploit, principally, young persons, and we want every shred and shadow of protection that we can get for them. With the labour exchanges stopping benefits immediately on refusal to take any employment, it is obvious that these women and young persons who are out of employment cannot refuse to go to the two-shift factories, however much they may object. We say that in the new factories as well as in the old the workpeople should be consulted before permission is given to adopt this system.

7.38 p.m.


This proviso to which we take exception cuts out completely the benefit of the secret ballot which was extolled by the Home Secretary earlier in the Debate, and it appears to me that it lobs the very people who most need the protection of the ballot given to them. Industry is changing, and the newer industries are developing in districts that are not thickly populated. The two-shift system, bad as it is, has up to the present operated in the thickly populated districts, where the hardships endured by the workers are considerably reduced. But take the position in North Wales, where you get new industries established. Under this Clause none of the workers in these industries will have the power, the right, or the privilege of being able to ballot on the question whether or not the two-shift system shall operate. It happens that in North Wales some of the girls and women have to travel several miles, because the bulk of them are recruited, not merely from great distances, but right away on the Welsh hills, and while firms have arranged for a number of coaches to travel out from Flint to Halkin and other places, it is a fact that quite a number of young girls of very tender age are walking across the Welsh hills between 4.30 and 5.30 in the morning and after midnight. In the summer time that may not be too bad, but they do it also in the winter, and simply because this type of industry is gradually building up factories away from what one might call the central industrial areas.

The Government are saying in this Clause that the young girls and women who are to be called upon to work in these new factories, where the conditions are so much worse than they are in the big towns, shall have no right to any say whatever as to whether or not the two-shift system should operate. As a matter of fact, the two-shift system is operated merely because it saves overhead charges. It is a cheap system of working. One industry with which I have had a considerable amount to do for a matter of about two years could have worked the one-shift system had it desired to do so, but it was much cheaper to work the two-shift system. It is only a question of economy. From my own viewpoint, it is a very harsh thing, to say the least of it, that young woman and girls should be forced to work under adverse and unfair conditions merely because it is cheaper to employ them on the two-shift system. You say in this Clause that where these industrial conditions are to be established in future, where the new industries are to be developed, in no circumstances will you permit the workers there to have any voice regarding the operation of the two-shift system. For these reasons I hope we may be able to carry this Amendment and get rid of this provision.

7.42 p.m.


This Clause goes farther than was suggested by the last speaker, because it lays it down that the application may relate to a factory or workshop which is about to be, or has recently been, newly established. These are terms which, in their interpretation, will bring in a great many people. In fact, I doubt very much whether they will not bring in those old-established firms which may be building new factories probably in the neighbourhood where they have been in operation for some considerable time. The Clause demands that these people shall give an undertaking that they will permanently adopt this system. The system is bad enough even when worked for only a brief period, but under this Clause you are asking for its permanent adoption, and it is an amazing thing that after all the efforts which have been made to give to young people the chance of continued education, we should have a Bill now before the House which asks for the permanent adoption of a system which will be ruinous to their education.

Up to now we have heard from the Home Secretary of the secret ballot, but the Clause lays it down that the right hon. Gentleman shall decide the question without any consultation, without any such ballot, and indeed, without the consent of the workers. It takes away every- thing that has been urged as a justification for the operation of the two-shift system. I am glad to think that in the engineering trade we shall be able to arrange it because of the strength of the union, but when one thinks of the many industries throughout the country I hope the House will be induced to do justice to itself and the country by accepting the Amendment.

7.46 p.m.


The Under-Secretary will probably be able to defend the proviso, but on the last Amendment hon. Members opposite took pride in the fact that there was a secret ballot. The hon. Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) took pride to herself that she had been the means of getting the secret ballot put in, in order to give an opportunity to the working people to have some control over their employment. If it was a good thing to put this in earlier in the Bill, why is it proposed to delete it here? If the Amendment is not accepted workpeople will not be able to speak for themselves. I realise the argument that the majority must count, and it is rather difficult for a politician who realises the strength of the arguments of his opponents, but, on this matter, I cannot see how the Government can defend themselves. Indeed, the fact that not one hon. Member opposite has got up to defend the proviso is a proof that the Government have a bad case.

7.47 p.m.


I want to put a question to the Under-Secretary of State. Suppose a firm decides to recapitalise, or that after a secret ballot has taken place it decides to close for a week and re-form itself into a company, would it be considered to be a newly-established factory? Can we have some assurance that when the Bill goes to another place words will be put in to make it certain that the Sub-section will not apply to a recapitalised or old established firm which opens up again under another name?

7.48 p.m.


We regard this Amendment as of vital importance and hope that the Under-Secretary, on behalf of the Government, will accept it. He has done nothing for us up to the moment, nor has he given us a satisfactory explana- tion of the meaning of the words in the proviso. The fundamental basis of the two-shift system since 1920 has been the consent of the workers to the granting of an order and its application. The House has taken a most serious view in connection with the administration of this system and the granting of such applications. It has not been content to leave the granting of applications to officers of the State, but has decided that it must rest with the Secretary of State himself, all of it, however, contingent upon the workers deciding by their votes, properly taken under adequate supervision by inspectors of the Home Office, that they want the two-shift system. If the proviso applied to new factories the case would not be so strong, but it goes much further. It says that: is satisfied that the application relates to a factory or workshop which is about to be, or has recently been, newly established. I want to know what is meant by the words "has recently been newly established." The Bill if it is passed is to become operative on 1st July, 1936. I want. the Under-Secretary of State to tell us how near to the first day of July, 1936, will a factory be considered to come within the words in the proviso "has recently been established." I am not certain that we can be satisfied with the opinion of the Under-Secretary on this matter. He has displayed great courtesy and charm, as he invariably does. The Opposition have displayed great charm and courtesy. Indeed last night we allowed the Home Office to get away with two Bills without any opposition at all. That should be put to our credit. I am only paying a tribute to the Under-Secretary which I thought would meet with warm approval by hon. Members in all parts of the House. But courtesy and charm are not sufficient. We want some legal definition of the words "has recently been newly established." In and around London new factories are coming into being, some already in the stage of being built, some of them just built, and some of them just beginning to produce. The building of others will start before 1st July, 1936; and I want to know which of these factories, at what date and time, will come within the scope of this proviso.

This is vital. There is nothing in the Bill which says that owners of new fac- tories have to give any notice that they are going to employ their people on a two-shift system. They will say "Here is a job for you; here are the terms. If you do not like them you can stop outside. If you do, you can come inside." And they can work the two-shift system just the same as an employer who has to have the secret ballot and obtain the consent of his workpeople. I do not want the Under-Secretary to think that he is going to get away with this easily. We have great respect for him, but this is a matter for the Secretary of State, or if the right hon. Gentleman cannot be present for the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General. We have not seen the Solicitor-General since his appointment.


He was here five minutes ago.


We shall want a clear and definite statement as to what the proviso means, because it says: the system of shifts is intended to be permanently adopted. That is, for all time, making a complete revolution in our industrial system. We are not going to be satisfied with any kind of talk on this matter. If the Under-Secretary of State cannot satisfy us I shall, Mr. Speaker, ask your permission to move to report Progress, in order that the House may have the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown or the Secretary of State himself, who although he speaks with some scorn of hon. Members on this side at any rate is a man of legal discernment. I pass on to point out that we are going to be involved in an enormous expenditure upon armaments. I am not going to discuss the merits or demerits of that policy, but already it has been reflected in the attitude of industry. Already we see a wide extension of aircraft production. With an enormous expenditure of public money "in the offing" new factories will spring up for the production of munitions and every one of those new factories, subsidised to some extent by public money, will be able, by means of this proviso, to introduce the two-shift system, ignoring the will of the workers.

We have had experience of this. Those of us who lived through the War period can recall the extension which took place then of factories for the production of munitions. In a varied career I have had a long workshop experience. I was in a workshop during the War and I remember how new factories grew up like mushrooms, how new departments were created, distinct and separate from the original factories, and how women and girl workers were employed in great numbers. We remember how two-shift and three-shift systems were operated in those circumstances. With the prospects of a big loan and an expenditure running up to £300,000,000 on munitions and armaments, the same thing will occur again. We are not even certain, I am sorry to say, that we are not going to move into war itself. If we do, there will be an even greater extension of this sort of activity and more and more factories will be working on this system without the consent of the workers.

This is a very important matter. [Laughter.] It is all right for hon. Members to laugh, but they do not work on the two-shift system. Many of them do not work at all and have never done so. They find it more convenient to earn their living in easier ways. Indeed I have always though myself that hard work is a slovenly way of getting a living. However, now that the Home Secretary is here—


My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary and I are working on the two-shift system.


I know that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleague carried out that system on the Second Reading Debate and we welcomed the manner in which they did so then, but it does not appear to have operated so successfully to-night. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) explained to me the reason for the right hon. Gentleman's absence and I am not complaining. At the same time, we like to see him present to advise us upon these interesting and complicated matters and I hope that the Under-Secretary, if he replies, will address himself seriously to the points I have made. This proviso represents a complete departure from a practice which has operated for over 16 years, which has worked well and has caused no objection or complaint. We cannot see why there should be any deviation from that path of virtue as far as the two-shift system is concerned. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will try to satisfy us on the interpretation of these words and tell us which factories are to come within the purview of this proviso.

8.7 p.m.


I appreciate the fact that, if one looks at this provision without having studied this matter, it is very natural to wonder why this exception should be made.


Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that hon. Members on this side have not studied it?


The hon. Lady really must fit the cap to herself.


May I fit it to myself also?


I was about to say that although I think a reasonable case could be made for that point of view, yet it is surprising that the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Short) should at the conclusion of his speech say that the general system had worked well in the past even with regard to newly established factories, and that he had never heard any suggestion that it had worked badly, or that there had been any complaints.


The hon. Gentleman misunderstood my reference. I was referring to the fact that there was no complaint on the operation of the two-shift system, regarding the consent of the workers being obtained. I said that there had been no complaint over a period of 16 years and asked why should this variation now be made.


I do not think there is any misunderstanding between us. I appreciate what the hon. Gentleman has just said, but the fact is that there has been complaint and there have been difficulties and those difficulties were brought before the Departmental Committee which investigated this matter. It is on the basis of a paragraph in the Committee's recommendations that this provision has been inserted in the Bill. Hon. Members have talked a great deal about exploitation and have referred to the fact that industries are changing and that this provision is not applicable in the altered circumstances. I would remind them that the Departmental Committee not only received evidence from the interests concerned but had as one of its number the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. C. Brown) who is as fully conversant with industrial conditions, from the workers' point of view, as any hon. Member opposite and has particular experience of the hosiery industry, one of these new trades in which this system is rather prevalent. It is not likely that he, as a member of that Committee, would put forward a proposal which would lead to exploitation or would be unreasonable in itself.


Do not shelter behind that.


The hon. Gentleman says I ought not to shelter behind the committee.


No. I say the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Brown) is not present, and I suggest it is rather hard that the hon. Gentleman should use his name in this way when he is not here to defend himself.


I do not know whether the hon. Member heard the speech made by the hon. Member for Mansfield on the Second Reading of the Bill.


I did.


He differed on very few points from the proposal that the Bill should go through. I appreciate the hon. Member's point, but I do not think there is any impropriety in following the definite statement which the hon. Member for Mansfield, as a member of the committee, with other people, signed, since it is upon the basis of that paragraph that we are proceeding. As there has been a great deal of misunderstanding I think I ought to read this passage from the report: So far as regards factories newly established, the committee sees no advantage in retaining the procedure of a joint application. In some cases the factory and plant have to be planned in advance before work actually commences and workers are taken on. In these cases before granting an order the Department would have to be satisfied that the circumstances are such as to warrant the use of the two-shift system, and that adequate provision is made for welfare, etc. But beyond this it does not seem possible or necessary for the Department to intervene. Then in the recommendations on page 31, hon. Members will see: The provision that requires the consent of the majority of the workpeople concerned for introduction of the system should be retained except in the case of the establishment of new works, designed to be works in whole or in part on the two-shift system, as a permanent part of its organisation. This Departmental Committee which was charged with the duty of investigating the whole subject and of seeing whether any modification should be made in the system, a committee which had upon it representatives of all parties, went into all the evidence and recommended this procedure. That is why we have introduced it. May I go into more details and point out the practical difficulties which has caused this exception to me made. What would the position be if the proviso were deleted I think it can be said without exaggeration that a farcical situation would result. An employer could not get his factory going without an authorisation and he could not get an authorisation until there had been a ballot. Presumably he would have to resort to the artifice of taking on a certain number of workers, on the understanding that they would be wanted for the shift system when it was authorised. He would then have to wait, pending a ballot the result of which would he a foregone conclusion and the carrying out of the rest of the procedure. We have here a genuine difficulty, because, if you insist that there should be a ballot, even in such a case, the employer should get round the actual intention of that provision presumably by taking on only those who were prepared to work the system and then, after waiting a short time, taking a ballot on it. I do not think the House would think that a suitable or practical method of procedure.

Surely the real question to be decided is whether or not a certain number of people are prepared to work this system. in the case of an existing factory, naturally you have to lay down the procedure that the views of the workers shall be ascertained as to whether they will change over to the new system or not, but in the case of a factory which does not exist, or is newly established, it seems reasonable to suppose that those workers who are prepared to work on those conditions will signify their consent by doing so. That seems to us to be a very much more practical state of affairs. It is one of those difficulties of a purely practical nature which is best resolved in a plain and straightforward manner as we are doing in this House, rather than by doing what we might perhaps have done, that is to say, let the procedure go on and be a farce. It is much better to face the practical difficulties now. In conclusion I want to emphasize that the Secretary of State must be satisfied that the works are newly established. I wish to assure the House that there is no sinister motive in this and no desire to evade the general provisions we have laid down. It is the most practical method of dealing with the question.


I rise to move the Adjournment of the House, because we are entirely dissatisfied—


The hon. Member has exhausted his right to speak.


Before the Under-Secretary finishes with this matter, I would like to put a point to him. Does he not think that he is making a distinction between the old factories and the new factories to the disadvantage of the former, and does he think it is fair to the old factories that they should have to work under a system which does not operate in the case of the new factories?


I would like, by leave of the House, to put a further question.




In the circumstances the hon. Member cannot speak again.


Do I understand that I cannot move the Adjournment of the House, or move to report Progress?


Certainly not. The hon. Member has exhausted his right to speak.

8.18 p.m.


I had hoped that the Under-Secretary would give some reason for the existence of this proviso. It seems to me that there is something objectionable in the two-shift system being applied in the case of women and girls, and that has been admitted by virtue of the fact that before it can be established in any factory the consent of the people concerned must be obtained by ballot, and the majority of them must agree to it. That being so, it passes my comprehension why in the case of new factories the Government should run away from the principle to which they themselves agree and have established in their own Bill. The Under-Secretary said it would be a difficult matter, when a new factory was being built, if the workpeople had to be set on before they knew whether there would be a two-shift system or not; but the new factories could be built in exactly the same circumstances as the factories which already exist. If the factories were built for a one-shift system, they would be in the same position as every other factory, there being no advantage and no disadvantage as against every other employer. If after the factory had been established on a one-shift system it was desired to introduce the two-shift system, that could be done with the consent of the workpeople. It appears to me that

the new factories are to be in a very privileged position.

8.19 p.m.


I understood the Under-Secretary to say just now that it would be extremely inconvenient for a ballot to be held in the case of new factories, but I would point out that if the workpeople are to be taken on, they may have to perform certain operations about which they may know nothing at all. The new factory might have some entirely different processes, and the work-people would be placed in the position of being asked to go to work in it, possibly at their peril, without having an opportunity of saying whether they wish a two-shift system to operate or not. It seems to me it would be possible for machinery to be devised to get over all these difficulties without having such a proposal as we have now.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 229; Noes,107.

Division No. 181.] AYES. [8.20 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Gower, Sir R. V.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Gridley, Sir A. B.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Courtauld, Major J. S. Grimston, R. V.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Craven- Ellis, W. Gritten, W. G. Howard
Apsley, Lord Critchley, A. Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.)
Aske, Sir R. W. Crooke, J. S. Gunston, Capt. D. W.
Atholl, Duchess of Croom-Johnson, R. p. Guy, J. C. M.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Cross, R. H. Hanbury, Sir C.
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Crossley, A. C. Hannah, I. C.
Balnlel, Lord Crowder, J, F. E. Hannon, Sir P. J. H.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Culverwell, C. T. Harbord, A.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C. Harris, Sir P. A.
Bernays, R. H. Davies, C. (Montgomery) Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.
Blair, Sir R. Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovll) Hepworth, J.
Bllndell, [...]r J. Davison, Sir W. H. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)
Boulton, W. W. Denman, Hon. R. D. Holdsworth, H.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Denville, Alfred Holmes, J. S.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W. Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.
Boyce, H. Leslie Dodd, J. S. Hopkinson, A.
Bracken, B. Donner, P. W. Horsbrugh, Florence
Brass, Sir W. Drewe, C. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Dugdale, Major T. L. Hudson, R. S. (Southport)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Duggan, H. J. Hunter, T.
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Duncan, J. A. L. James, Wing-Commander A. W.
Bull, B. B. Dunne, P. R. R. Joel, D. J. B.
Burghley. Lord Eastwood, J. F. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Ellis, Sir G. Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)
Burton, Col. H. W. Emery, J. F. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Unlvs.)
Butler, R. A. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Kimball, L.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Entwistle, C. F. Kirkpatrick, W. M.
Cartland, J. R. H. Erskine Hill, A. G. Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) Leech, Dr. J. W.
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Everard, W. L. Lees-Jones, J.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Flndlay, Sir E. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Fremantle, Sir F. E. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.
Christie, J. A. Furness, S. N. Levy, T.
Clarke, F E. Fyfe, D. P. M. Lewis, O.
Clarry, Sir Reginald Ganzoni, Sir J. Liddall, W. S.
Clydesdale, Marquess of George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Lloyd, G. W.
Cobb, Sir C. S. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.
Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J. Gibson, C. G. Loftus, P. C.
Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Pllkington, R. Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.
Lyons, A. M. Porritt, R. W. Spens, W. P
Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Procter, Major H. A. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
M'Connell, Sir J. Radford, E A. Stourton, Hon. J. J.
McCorquodale, M. S. Raikes, H. V. A. M. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot U.) Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Ramsbotham, H. Strickland, Captain W. F.
McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Ramsden, Sir E. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nalrn)
McKie, J. H. Rankin, R. Sutcliffe, H.
Maclay, Hon. J. P. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Tasker, Sir R. I.
Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Rawson, Sir Cooper Tate, Mavis C.
Magnay, T. Rayner, Major R. H. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down) Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Reid, W. Allen (Derby) Tree, A. R. L. F.
Moreing, A. C. Rickards, G. W. (Sklpton) Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.
Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.) Ropner, Colonel L. Wakefield, W. W.
Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'derry) Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Unlv's.) Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbrldge) Wallace, Captain Euan
Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester) Rowlands, G. Ward, Lleut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Muirhead, Lt-Col. A. J. Russell, A. West (Tynemouth) Ward, Irene (Wallsend)
Munro, P. Russell, R. J. (Eddlsbury) Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H. Salmon, Sir I. Wells, S. R.
Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Salt, E. W. White, H. Graham
O'Connor, sir Terence J. Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney) Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. Seely, Sir H. M. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Orr-Ewlng, I. L. Selley, H. R. Windsor-Olive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Owen, Major G. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar) Wise, A. R.
Palmer. G. E. H. Shepperson, Sir E. W. Withers, Sir J. J.
Peat, C. U. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Penny, Sir G. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Perkins, W. R. D. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Peters, Dr. S. J. Somerville, Sir D. B. (Crewe) Lieut.-Colonel Llewellin and
Petherick, M. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Captain Waterhouse.
Pickthorn, K. W. M. Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.
Adams, D. (Consett) Hardle, G. D. Parker, H. J. H.
Adamson, W. M. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Parkinson, J. A.
Banfield, J. W. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Barr, J. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Potts, J.
Batey, J. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Price, M. P.
Bellenger, F. Holland, A. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Benson, G. Hollins, A. Ritson, J.
Bevan, A. Hopkin, D. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Broad, F. A. Jagger, J. Rowson, G.
Bromfield, W. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Sexton, T. M.
Brooke, W. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Shinwell, E.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Short. A.
Burke, W. A. Jones, Morgan (Caerphllly) Simpson, F. B.
Cassells, T. Kelly, W. T. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Charleton, H. C. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Chater[...] D. Kirby, B. V. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees-(K'ly)
Cluse, W. S. Lathan, G. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Leach, W. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Cripps, Hon. sir Stafford Lee, F. Thorne, W.
Dagger, G. Leonard, W. Thurtle, E.
Dalton, H. Logan, D. G. Tinker, J. J.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Viant, S. P.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) McEntee, V. La T. Walkden, A. G.
Ede, J. C. McGhee, H. G. Walker, J.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) MacLaren, A. Watkins, F. C.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Maclean, N. Wotson, W. McL.
Gallacher, W. Mainwaring, W. H. Welsh, J. C.
Gardner, B. W. Marklew, E. Westwood, J.
Garro-Jones, G. M. Marshall, F. Wilkinson, Ellen
Glbbins, J. Mathers, G. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Messer, F. Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Mllner, Major J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Montague, F. Woods, G. S. (Flnsbury)
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Groves, T. E. Muff, G. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hall. G. H. (Aberdare) Oliver, G. H. Hr. Whiteley and Mr. John.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Paling, W.

8.30 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 3, line 6, to leave out Sub-section (5).

We consider this Amendment of equal importance to the last, and I would remind the Under-Secretary again, lest he should have forgotten it in his enthusiasm, that he has not met the Opposition at all, and has not given us a single thing. He has closed his mind to all arguments and appeals, whether to the reason or to the emotions. Now we have reached the end of this road of travail I am hopeful that we shall get some little reward for our efforts. This Sub-section enables the Secretary of State to delegate his duties to other persons, including the chief inspector of factories or the superintending inspector of factories. The Sub-section was really the result of an afterthought on the part of the Home Office. It was moved in Committee by the Under-Secretary who, at the time of its acceptance, disposed of another Clause in the Bill. The Subsection has relation to the procedure to be adopted in regard to orders. It was suddenly thought desirable to change the procedure which we have been operating for 16 years. It has been going on all that time, and then somebody suddenly had a brain-wave and suggested that the time had arrived for a change. In the report of the Committee, on page 24, we are told that the procedure seems somewhat cumbrous—especially in the case of Orders required only for a temporary purpose—and may involve some delay in dealing with urgent applications; and now that the experimental period may be considered to have ended, we recommend that in these cases, at any rate, the permission to work the two-shift system might be granted locally by the appropriate official of the Factory Department (we suggest the superintending inspector) without reference to Whitehall. On what evidence was this case of the Committee based? I have read the report and the summary of the evidence, and I do not think any employers complained that the procedure was cumbrous, or that the workers did. The only people who seem to have expressed any opinion, though certainly without offering any evidence, as far as the summary of evidence indicates, were the factory inspectors. They expressed their opinions. What is the procedure? I cannot emphasise this point too much, for it is vital. The House demanded, and the Home Office acceded to the demand, that no Orders should be issued under the two shift-system unless they were signed by the Secretary of State or the Under-Secretary. I think that is right.


indicated assent.


Why did we decide upon that practice? Because of the unsatisfactory conditions arising out of the operation of the Act of 1920; because hon. Members on both sides of the House, anxious for the welfare of young people in particular, wanted to be satisfied that no two-shift Orders were issued without the most careful scrutiny and examination. Now we are told that the procedure is cumbrous and may, involve some delay. This is a new word to me, cumbrous. I never heard of it when I was at the Home Office. I never heard of any delay in the issuing of these Orders. This reference to "cumbrous" is a reflection on the Home Office such as I myself, with my experience, would never make. It is one of the most efficient Departments of the State, ever ready to respond to the appeals of wisdom and justice. I do not remember any complaints being made, or any questions being put in this House, charging the Home Secretary and his Department with delay in the issue of these two-shift Orders. I do not say there has not been one case of delay, I do not say there have been not two cases, but I do not recall, during the two and a-half years when the Labour Government were in office, that there were any complaints, and I certainly do not recall any question being put on the Floor of the House.

I can quite understand that the officers of the State should want to acquire more power. We are always in danger of what is termed the bureaucracy in Whitehall. The Lord Chief Justice wrote a book about the growing dangers of the bureaucracy in Whitehall. I can understand the anxiety of inspectors to acquire greater powers, but if they are to be given greater powers it should only be after evidence which would justify the step. This is a responsibility of the Secretary of State, and we ought not to be parties to banding it over to the Chief Factory Inspector or the Superintending Inspector of Factories. Hitherto the practice has been this—that when an application for an Order has been made the factory inspector on the spot has made a careful investigation and has reported to the chief inspector in Whitehall, and after thorough examination the matter has been referred to the Secretary of State or the Under-Secretary. We see no reason why that practice, which has worked so well, and has contributed in no small measure to harmony in the administration of the Act and, what is more important, and even vital, to harmony in this House as regards our attitude towards industrial legislation.

The Under-Secretary must not think that we want to waste our time firing political bullets every day at himself or the Secretary of State regarding the issue or refusal of Orders. Why does the Secretary of State want to delegate his authority to any superintending inspector of factories? I do not cast any reflection upon the character or the administrative qualities of the factory inspectors. I do not say that I know them all, but I know the majority of those who preside in the various Departments across the road, and I have met many of those who are in the country. I have the greatest respect for them, but this question is not to be decided by considerations of personal respect. We shall certainly want very satisfactory evidence indeed to justify this Sub-section. I do not know whether the Under-Secretary will meet us on this matter. I should like to have an opportunity of carrying away something to-night. I extended myself somewhat on a previous Amendment, and I did so also this one hoping that my hon. Friends and myself would not be turned away empty handed.

If the Under-Secretary cannot meet us entirely I will make an offer to him. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] My hon. Friends say "No." Perhaps I had better wait and let somebody else do it. They say that a readiness to compromise is one of the main characteristics of Englishmen, and I was only anxious to get some proper reward for our efforts. My hon. Friends do not like me to make an offer but, all the same, I hope the Under-Secretary will meet us. I hope he will accept the Amendment or at least give us an assurance that in another place the Government will agree to the deletion of some words in order that we may achieve our object.

It has been said that we are opposed to the two-shift system; we are, but we are not powerful enough to stop the passage of this Measure. Consequently, we must expect it to reach the Statute Look and be put into operation in our industrial life. Our Amendment is calculated to improve the Measure in its present form. We are anxious to maintain the policy of the issuing of orders, because it is justified by experience during the last 16 years. The Under-Secretary will have to make a better speech than he made on the last occasion, one far more convincing, if he is to satisfy my hon. Friends and myself in this important matter.

8.46 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

It seems to us that the Amendment is in the best interests of those who are to be employed under the two-shift system. When the Under-Secretary was replying to a similar Amendment in the Committee, he said that the point the Departmental Committee had in mind was that, in rush jobs, in many industries, the need for piece-working might occur very suddenly and last only for a short time. We admit that that is likely to occur. That is the intention of the Clause which we are discussing. He immediately went on to say that these superintendent inspectors were to decide whether these arrangements were to be made, and that statement appears to be a contradiction. The Under-Secretary also said that there were only 11 in the whole country, each supervising a considerable area. They were men of very high standing in the Service. It is not clear what will happen in actual practice. If there are rush jobs in all parts of the country and only 11 superintending inspectors to deal with them, how is the machinery to be worked? If a rush job is wanted almost at once, will it not be a question of telegraphing to and fro, and the inspector, knowing nothing about the matter, having to give some decision almost in no time?

There is no suggestion how long a permit will last after it has been granted. Permits are supposed to be purely temporary, but there is nothing to suggest how long their temporary nature will last, or whether permits may be continued. Are they for a week, or a month? Can there be a similar application after they have expired? The superintending inspectors will be put in an entirely different position from the ordinary factory inspector, and indeed, from their own original position. The inspector has, to a large extent, been looked upon as the friend of the employé but now he will be very much the friend of the person who wants to introduce the two-shift system in a hurry. He will be obliged to give his decision in a rush, knowing very little about the operation to be carried on.

A further consideration is that although the two-shift system is to be brought in, and although we have, under the old Factory Acts, provision for the medical inspection of workpeople entering industry, we are trying a new experiment with the young life, because there is no provision for a medical examination to see whether they are fit for their occupation.

8.51 p.m.


I appeal to the Under-Secretary to meet us in this matter. I have had experience of the visits of these inspectors. I remember as a youngster 10 years of age, in one of the very factories we are talking about, that an inspector used to call and pay a sort of State visit. His visit was most perfunctory. I have no doubt that these great officers of the Crown, the superintendent inspectors, will be even more perfunctory in their visits, which they will pay at greater stated intervals, than even the ordinary inspectors. I appeal to the Under-Secretary to knock out this Sub-section. I believe that he is not altogether in love with it himself. I have a report of what he said in the Committee, that even the Home Office did not desire to force these recommendations upon the Committee. That was the opinion of the Home Office and also, I suggest, of the Under-Secretary. We do not wish to make it too easy in the West Riding of Yorkshire to institute the two-shift system. We do not like it and we do not want it. We are entitled to say that men, women and children—it is a question of women and children first, so far as women in the textile mills are concerned in the West Riding—should have all the protection that this House can give them.

That is why we do not wish to leave dictatorial powers in the hands of a superintendent inspector. What will happen will be a telephone call by the office boy in the mill. It will be switched on to the manager, and then to the local inspector. The manager will state what concession is wanted and the concession will be granted without much inquiry into the facts of the situation. I am afraid that that is what will happen after the Act has been in operation a short time. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster (Mr. Short) I would rather present a bouquet to the Under-Secretary, who has a kind face, than throw a brick at him. I wish to make my appeal, and to tell him that the women and children in the West Riding do not want the two-shift system. I am an old factory worker who has had experience of factories. No doubt they are improved these days, and I am glad. It is due to more up-to-date factory supervision. I have very vivid recollections of the factories in those days, and also of the visits of the inspector, when we had to fence our machinery and do all sorts of things to come within the law, because of the perfunctory way in which the inspectors performed their work. I desire to reinforce the appeal of my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, and I hope the Under-Secretary will be able to agree that this Sub-section shall come out of the Bill.

8.56 p.m.


I must say that it is very hard to listen to the appeals of hon. Gentlemen opposite and not make some response to them, but I would remind the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Short) that one of the reasons why I have not been able to make concessions this afternoon is that I made so many in Committee, and on this matter a very great concession indeed was made. Originally, Clause 3 provided that the Secretary of State could delegate any of his powers and duties under the Act to the Chief Inspector of Factories, and I think that even the hon. Gentleman will agree that the proposal we are now discussing is much more modest than that. Before I explain to the House the practical basis of this proposal, I should like to say that I was rather interested when the hon. Gentleman mentioned that he might have considered a compromise on this matter, but his hon. Friend would not let him go on. Although I cannot give any undertaking in the sense that he would like, I would remind him that up to the present time he has not produced any practical alternative. If, between now and the consideration of the matter in another place, he could make a suggestion of a practical kind, we should be very glad to consider it and see whether it would be possible to meet him in some way.


While the Under-Secretary is appealing to my hon. Friend, might I ask him if he himself could not make a suggestion between now and the time when the Bill is considered in another place?


I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that, as the initiative has come from the other side, they should be the first to put forward a suggestion. That is as far as I can go this evening, and I do so in response to the appeals of hon. Gentlemen opposite. May I remind the House how this proposal arises? It simply comes from the businesslike consideration of the matter by the Departmental Committee. They found that there were a certain number of cases where the authorisation was wanted for a short period to meet, a temporary emergency, and was wanted quickly. Reference of these matters to the centre in Whitehall is bound to cause delay, a fact which was illustrated very well by the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. C. Wilson) when he reminded the House of my statement in Committee that there were only 11 of these superintending inspectors in the whole country, who would under this provision be allowed to give an authorization—only, be it remembered, after a secret ballot and after all the procedure under the Act had been gone through. How, then, asked the hon. Member, could all this work be done by only 11 men? The proposal, however, is that it should be done by 11 men instead of by one man. I would give the hon. Member the assurance that under the Bill the period cannot exceed six months, which is a pretty severe limitation, but there are cases, of which I have details, though I will not worry the House with them,

where, for instance, there is a rush order for export and this system is really necessary, and it is vital, if the contract is to be secured, that the authorisation should be given as quickly as possible. The Departmental Committee were moved by considerations of that kind to recommend this procedure, and that is why it was put in. I repeat, however, that, if hon. Members opposite can bring forward any alternative at another stage, we will consider it.

9.1 p.m.


Under this proposal the factory inspector is being brought in to do work which he was never appointed to do. He was appointed to inspect factories and to inspect conditions, but now he is to be asked to decide between employers and employed as to the operations of the two-shift system. The Under-Secretary said that it may be required for a rush order for export, but I hope he will find some better reason than that. Industries like those which were mentioned during the Committee stage do not find themselves in the position that the hon. Gentleman has stated, and to place upon the factory inspector this responsibility of authorising the operation of the two-shift system is to bring him into the position of dealing with people who disagree with him, which is a wrong position for civil servants to have to occupy.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 217; Noes, 108.

Division No. 182.] AYES. [9.3 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Burghley, Lord Culverwell, C. T.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Burgin, Dr. E. L. Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Burton, Col. H. W. Davies, C. (Montgomery)
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Butler, R. A. Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovll)
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Campbell, Sir E. T. Davison, Sir W. H.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Cartland, J. R. H. Denman, Hon. R. D.
Apsley, Lord Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Denville, Alfred
Aske, Sir R. W. Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.
Atholl, Duchess of Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Dodd, J. S.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Donner, P. W.
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Christie, J. A. Dower, Capt. A. V. G.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Clarke, F. E. Drewe, C.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Clarry, Sir Reginald Dugdale, Major T. L.
Blair, Sir R. Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J. Duggan, H. 1.
Bilndell, Sir J. Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Duncan, J. A. L.
Boulton, W. W. Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Dunne, P. R. R.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh.W.) Eastwood, J. F.
Bower, Comdr. [...]. T. Courtauld, Major J. S. Eckersley, P. T.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W. Craven-Ellis, W. Ellis, Sir G.
Bracken, B. Critchley, A. Emery, J. F.
Brass, Sir W. Crooke, J. S. Emrys-Evans, P. V.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Croom-Johnson, R. p. Entwistle, C. F.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Cross, R. H. Erskine Hill, A. G.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Crossley, A, C. Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)
Bull, B. B. Crowder, J. F. E. Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)
Everard, W. L. Loftus, P. C. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Findlay, Sir E. Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Rothschild, J. A. de
Foot, D. M. Lyons, A. M. Rowlands, G.
Fremantle, Sir F. E. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)
Furness, S. N. M'Connell, Sir J. Russell, R. J. (Eddlsbury)
Fyfe, D. P. M. McCorquodale, M. S. Salmon, Sir I.
Ganzoni, Sir J. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Salt, E. W.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Maclay, Hon. J. P. Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)
Gibson, C. G. Magnay, T. Seely, Sir H. M.
Gower, Sir R. V. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Selley, H. R.
Gridley, Sir A. B. Markham, S. F. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Grimston, R. V. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Guest, Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll, N.W.) Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R. Smiles, Lieut. Colonel Sir W. D.
Gunston, Capt. D. W. Moreing, A. C. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Guy, J. C. M. Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.) Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.
Hanbury, Sir C. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. Spens, W. P.
Hannah, I. C. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester) Storey, S.
Harbord, A. Mulrhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Strauss, E. A (Southwark, N.)
Harris, Sir P. A. Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Hellgers, Captain F, F. A. O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Hepworth, J. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Orr-Ewing, I. L. Sutcliffe, H.
Holdsworth, H. Owen, Major G. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Holmes, J. S. Palmer, G. E. H. Tate, Mavis C.
Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J, Peake, O. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Hopkinson, A. Peat, C. U. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Horsbrugh, Florence Penny, Sir G. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Perkins, W. R. D. Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.
Hudson, R. S. (Southport) Peters, Dr. S. J. Wakefield, W. W.
Hunter, T. Petherick, M. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
James, Wing-Commander A. W. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Wallace, Captain Euan
Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Porritt, R. W. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Radford, E. A. Ward, Irene (Walisend)
Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Raikes, H. V. A. M. Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Kimball, L. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Wells, S. R.
Kirkpatrick, W. M. Ramsbotham, H. White, H. Graham
Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F. Ramsden, Sir E. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Rankin, R. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Leckie, J. A. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Leech, Dr. J. W. Rawson, Sir Cooper Wise, A. R.
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Rayner, Major R. H. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Levy, T. Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Lewis, O. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Liddail, W. S. Reid, W. Allan (Derby) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Liewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Commander Southby and Captain
Lloyd, G. W. Ropner, Colonel L. Waterhouse.
Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'derry)
Adams, D. (Consett) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Mainwaring, W. H.
Adamson, W. M. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Markiew, E.
Ammon, C. G. Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Marshall, F.
Banfield, J. W. Groves, T. E. Messer, F.
Barr, J. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Milner. Major J.
Batey, J. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Montague, F.
Bellenger, F. Hardie, G. D. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham. N.)
Benson, G. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Muff, G.
Bevan, A. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Oliver, G. H.
Broad, F. A. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Paling, W.
Bromfield, W Hills, A. (Pontefract) Parker, H. J. H.
Brooke, W. Holland, A. Parkinson, J. A.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Hollins, A. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Burke, W. A. Hopkin, D. Potts, J.
Casselis, T. Jagger, J. Price, M. P.
Charleton, H. C. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Chater, D. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Ritson, J.
Cluse, W. S. John, W. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Rowson, G.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Sexton, T. M.
Daggar, G, Kelly, w. T. Shinwell, E.
Dalton, H. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Short. A.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Kirby, B. V. Simpson, F. B.
Day, H. Lathan, G. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Dunn, E. (Bother Valley) Leach. W. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Ede, J. C. Lee, F. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Leonard, W. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Logan, D. G. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Gallacher, W. Macdonald, G. (Ince) Thorne, W.
Gardner, B. W. McEntee, V. La T. Thurtle, E.
Garro-Jones, G. M. McGhee, H. G. Tinker, J. J.
Gibbins, J. MacLaren, A. Viant, S. P.
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Maclean, N. Walkden, A. G.
Walker, J. Westwood, J. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Watkins, F. C. Wilkinson, Ellen
Watson, W. McL. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Welsh, J. C. Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe) Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.