HC Deb 12 May 1936 vol 312 cc215-51

There shall be an advisory committee consisting of eight persons appointed by the Secretary of State, being persons who appear to him to represent equally the interests of employers and workpeople; and it shall be the duty of this advisory committee to advise the Secretary of State generally as to the operation of this Act and, in particular, as to any complaints which may be received regarding the operation of any authorisation under this Act. —[Mr. Rhys Davies]

Brought up, and read the First time.

3.42 p.m.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

During the War a great part of our factory legislation was set aside by the Defence of the Realm Regulations and there grew up, for the purpose of the production of munitions, a system whereby women and young persons, in violation of factory legislation, could work what is commonly known as the two-shift system, being so many hours between 6 o'clock in the morning and 10 o'clock at night. It was thought by those interested in factory legislation that that system would come to an end when the War itself ended, but it was continued, and in 1920 an Act was passed to make what was temporary into a permanent provision. It was provided, however, that the system should come to an end in five years, but each Government in succession has carried it forward under the Expiring Laws Continuance Act, so that it has continued to this day. This Bill will make the two-shift system permanent not only for the next five years, but probably for the next quarter of a century.

Before this Bill was presented there was a Departmental Committee appointed to inquire into the operation of the two-shift system. There are a goodly number of employers and workpeople who do not like this system at all. The hon. Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) rather challenges that with a very ominous smile. [Interruption] If the word "menacing" is more appropriate, I will leave it at that. I am under the impression that she has championed the two-shift system before. It is no use hon. Members arguing in favour of it until they have tried it themselves in a factory. That is the test always—not whether we think the young people like it or not, but how we should like it if we were in their place. The Departmental Committee issued a unanimous report, but, as far as I know, the two Labour representatives signed it only on the definite understanding that this problem with which we are now dealing was included in the recommendation. The report says: It would be advantageous if a standing advisory body could be constituted by the Secretary of State composed of leading representatives of employers and workers who could be consulted as occasion arose on questions of importance in connection with the application and the operation of the two-shift system. I admit that in Committee upstairs it would appear from the Amendment tabled that each application for an order under this scheme would have to come before the advisory committee. If the right hon. Gentleman, who is nearly as good a lawyer as I am, will bear with me, I think that I can prove to him that in future, if our new Clause be carried, it will not be necessary for the Home Office to submit each application for an order to the advisory committee.

I pass to one or two arguments as to why an advisory committee should be set up, but, before doing so, I want to meet the plea of the Under-Secretary of State in Committee upstairs. He said that the Home Office were quite willing to set up an advisory committee, but they did not want the committee to be mentioned in an Act of Parliament. He said that that was new. Since we came back after the last General Election I have found a, splendid argument to combat that point of view. I was a Member of the Committee on the Cotton Spinning Industry Bill, and the first thing with which we were confronted was that the President of the Board of Trade was extaordinarily eloquent in proposing to insert in that Bill an advisory committee. If the advisory committees to which the hon. Gentleman objected had never before been mentioned in law, we have started a new chapter in legislation, and we have now an ex- cellent precedent in the Cotton Spinning Industry Bill Where an advisory committee is Mentioned in the body of the Bill. I have been on several advisory committees. I sat for years on an advisory Committee of the Ministry of Health On the National Health Insurance Scheme, and I am under the impression that that august body is actually mentioned in the Act of Parliament. Therefore, the argument that the advisory committee is not mentioned in previous Acts of Parliament will not avail the Home Office to-day. Why does the right hon. Gentleman say, on the one hand, that he does not object to an advisory committee, but, oh the other hand, he objects to putting it into an Act of Parliament. He thinks that he can satisfy us by saying, "I will see that it is set up; but you must not put it into the Act of Parliament"? Let me tell him frankly that I believe there is a little element of the stubbornness of the Yorkshireman about him on this score. I am hoping that to-day we shall be able to mollify his attitude.

We are very keen on the advisory committee because we are not sure—and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not be offended—that the present Government will do very much for the factory operatives of this country unless they are compelled by Statute so to do. His promise to set, up an advisory committee Merely comprised in a statement on the Floor Of the House of Commons Will not convince us that the present Government will implement the promise. If employers of capitalists on the Floor of the House got a promise from the Government upon anything; the Government would implement it, but we are speaking to-day in respect of thousands of women and young persons who have Very little influence,. if any, in the present Government: We are anxious, therefore, to put this provision in the Act. of Parliament, because we are satisfied that the Home Office secure excellent advice from people who are actually in contact with factory work. It would ill become me to bring any criticism against the factory inspectors, because I believe that they are the best body of inspectors employed by the State in this country. I have yet to learn that, when the employer and his workpeople come to the Horne office to seek air order, it is the duty of a factory inspect- tor when inspecting the factory to decide as to whether the two-shift system should be introduced;

The right hon. Gentleman really ought to admit our plea and insert the proposed new Clause in the Bill. I am sure that if it is necessary for a Government Department to be advised upon many problems by other boards, there is every reason why it should be advised by representatives of labour and employés on this fundamental issue of whether women and young persons should be employed between 6 o'clock in the morning and 10 o'clock at night. We.' are` definitely opposed to the introduction of the two-shift system. I could understand the introduction of the system to cope with prosperity where employers were incapable of meeting all the demands upon them by the markets of the world, but in adversity, when 2,000,000 people are out of work, what is the use of arguing that employers ought to work their women and young persons between 6 o'clock in the morning and 10 o'clock at night? Not only are we introducing this system into our legislation, and making it permanent for the next quarter of a century wrong, but if we are to have a two-shift system the Home Office ought to be ready and willing to accept our proposal to set up an advisory committee, so that the Department may be guided by the people Who are actually in daily contact with the factories.

3.57 p.m.


I would make a strong appeal to the Home Secretary to accept the proposed new Clause which appears in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) and that of myself. My hon. Friend has made out an overwhelming case for the Home Secretary to incorporate the Clause in the Bill. He stated clearly and truly that we on these benches are opposed to the two-shift system. On the Second Reading of the Bill we made our views clear, but nobody can deny that in the Committee stage upstairs we accepted the Bill as having been passed by a democratic majority of this House, and we sought every opportunity to improve the Bill and to criticise it in a constructive way. At the first meeting of the Standing Committee we proposed an Amendment which We are now seeking to incorporate in this Clause. The Home Secretary on that occasion repeated the promise that he made on the Second Reading, that if the Bill became law he would set up a committee but said he did not want to incorporate it in the Bill itself. We are very anxious on this special point. Many of us on these benches have knowledge of thousands of women and young persons who will come within the provisions of the Bill. We therefore want a guarantee and safeguard for our people that such a committee will be set up, and the only satisfactory guarantee to us is that it should be included in the Bill.

We are not asking the Home Secretary to set up a precedent. Many of these committees exist in Government Departments to-day, and hon. Members on these benches have served on such committees for many years and have rendered great and useful service in many directions. My hon. Friend mentioned that the Cotton Spinning Industry Bill incorporates an advisory committee to advise the Spindles Board. I understand that at the Ministry of Transport there is a similar committee which advises on traffic problems, and that in the Ministry of Health there is a committee to advise the Minister on housing. The committee that we suggest would not consider every single application from every employer who wished to operate the two-shift system. We realise that it would be quite impracticable for an advisory committee to do work of that kind. What we ask for is a committee representative of all the interests in industry, a committee representing the employers, the organised workpeople and the Factory Department of the Home Office.

If the Home Secretary would set up such an advisory committee it would be of real service to him as the Minister who has to be responsible for the extension of the two-shift system in industry. If the two-shift system is to extend, as I believe it will, and is to become a permanent part of the industrial system, a great many problems of administration will arise, and it is of such problems that we believe the committee should keep an oversight. For instance, I believe that if it is made easier for the system to be applied, there would be a, rush of applications, from industries where it is at present in, operation. and many applications for its extension in industries where at the moment it is not in operation. In cases like those the advisory committee could inquire why there should be a claim for the general extension of the system or why it should be introduced into any industry where it is not now operating. It would thus be of great use to the Home Secretary.

There are many other matters that such a, committee would be able to consider. We have never yet had any reliable evidence as to the effect of the two-shift system on the health of women and young people. If the system is to be considerably extended one duty of this advisory committee would be to watch the effect on the health of young people of 16 and women. Particularly would the committee render useful service in watching the conditions which are imposed in different industries on the granting of permits to introduce the two-shift system. We have to be very jealous in granting these permits and very careful to see that the conditions laid down by the Home Office are rigorously upheld by the employers. The committee could consider the conditions which ought to be laid down, whether the conditions are stringent enough, whether they are too stringent, or whether new conditions ought to be imposed. There are many ways in which this committee could render useful service to the Home Secretary and to the people in the industries concerned. Those of us who oppose the system as a whole, and the people who are going to work under it, would feel a greater measure of confidence if we knew that there was a committee containing representatives of the workers watching the operation of the system in industry.

4.6 p.m.


As a member of the Departmental Committee whose duty it was to investigate this question of the two shift system I would like to say a word on this proposed new Clause. The Departmental Committee certainly took the view that it would be very useful to have a standing advisory committee to advise upon the working of the system, and hon. Members will see that we suggested that such a committee should be constituted by the Secretary of State. On the Second Reading of the Bill I myself strongly urged that provision for the committee should be included in the Bill. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) said just now that he thought the Labour Members who served on the Departmental Committee gave their unanimous support to the report of that Committee only on the understanding that the advisory committee was to be made a statutory committee. I cannot help feeling that if either of the two representatives of Labour on the Departmental Committee had such a reservation in mind he would certainly have mentioned the fact in this House. I think that the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. C. Brown) would have thought it necessary if he was going to make such a reservation, to have made that perfectly clear in his Second Reading speech. If my memory serves me aright he made no mention of the advisory committee at all. It is unfortunate that the hon. Member was not on the Standing Committee which considered this Bill. Otherwise he might have there made his position a little clearer.

But I maintain that the position has been considerably altered since the Second Reading. The structure of the Bill has been altered, and in some very important particulars. First of all, one of the most important functions of the Standing Committee was to decide the method by which the consent of the workers was to be obtained. The Government accepted an Amendment of the senior Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) that the method should be definitely incorporated in the Bill and that the consent of the workers should be obtained by secret ballot. That seems to alter the situation very considerably. It seems to me to be far the most vital matter which will have to be considered by the advisory committee. It covers a great deal, including the all-important question of wages and their adjustment to meet the shorter hours. All that will be a matter of negotiation before the application is made; and if the workers are not satisfied that the conditions laid down are reasonable they always have the option of voting against the working of the system which is provided for in the secret ballot.

It seems to me that as long as that particular thing has been clearly established in the Bill it does not matter whether the advisory committee is statutory or not. The Home Secretary has given an undertaking that he, is going to set up a committee. The hon. Member for Westhoughten says he does not believe that the Government are very much concerned with factory conditions. I myself do not take any better view of the Government, probably, than the hon. Gentleman, but I do think that it is a model of what even a bad Government can do if it only follows good guidance. I do not really think that there is anything very sinister behind the Home Secretary's attitude on this matter. He made it abundantly clear that there never was any desire on the part of the Home Office to exclude from the Bill anything which should properly be made a matter for legislative action. The hon. Member for Westhoughton said it was imperative to have the advisory committee included in the Bill so as to make sure of it, but if I remember aright he said that upstairs in the Standing Committee and in the same breath said that certain specific provisions in Acts of Parliament had been ignored by the present Government. Therefore I really think, looking at it from his point of view, that it does not really much matter whether the advisory committee is included in the Bill or not, for according to the hon. Member's statement he is not going to make sure of it either way.

I am glad that the hon. Member made it clear this afternoon that he has retreated from the position he took up in the Standing Committee, that this advisory committee should concern itself with individual cases and orders that are brought before it. Obviously when you have 300 orders, perhaps, brought up in one year, the committee would have to sit, if not every day at least several times a week. The hon. Member said it was very important to have a statutory committee because there had been no evidence before the Departmental Committee that the two shift system was not detrimental in its effects on the health of the workers. As a matter of fact the evidence was directly to the contrary. There was no substantial evidence that the system was detrimental to the health of the workers. I mention that for this reason: I do not know exactly what constitution the hon. Member has in mind for this advisory committee. The hon. Member said that he wished the committee to be made up of representatives of the workers and employers. I do not know whether they could be any more rightly able to decide upon this matter of the health of the workers than would a committee which included a doctor and a social worker who had made a study of the question all her life.

I, myself, can see a great disadvantage in. making this suggested committee a. statutory committee. I think the hon. Member himself must also feel the disadvantage. He has mentioned his experience of advisory committees. I happen to be a member of two advisory committees, one a statutory committee and the other appointed by a Minister. The first was set up under the Housing Act of 1935. Its terms of reference limit it to definite functions, beyond which it cannot go. If in the course of time new and expected problems arise which could usefully be dealt with by that committee they are bound by Statute and they cannot deal with those new problems. The other body of which I am a member is an advisory committee appointed by the Postmaster-General. That was set up in 1921, but since then its function has been greatly enlarged and there are now practically no questions affecting the Post Office with which it cannot deal.

In this Bill we are instituting a. new system in the industrial life of this country. As the system develops—as I feel sure it will—problems of all kinds that have never been visualised by anyone may arise, and they will not be covered by the suggested committee's terms of reference. If the committee's functions are laid down by Statute the committee will be entirely prevented from dealing with those new problems unless the Statute is altered. For these reasons I believe that a standing body appointed by the Secretary of State would be much more useful and would fulfil far more completely the functions which hon. Members desire to have fulfilled.

4.15 p.m.


I am glad that this question should be thrashed out on the Floor of the House, and I realise that every point of view should be brought before us. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) has given me on this occasion the character of a; very obstinate man, but I can assure him that the conclusion, that. I have reached is not the result of blind obstinacy, but of the best study that I could give to. what is admittedly a rather difficult problem, It may be that, before the Debate on this new Clause concludes, fresh light may break upon me, and, if so, I am open to receive it. I should like to express my gratitude to my hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) whose approval of the attitude of the Government is the more encouraging, because it is administered. with such a discriminating judgment. She cannot be accused in this matter of offering a blind and possibly foolish support to the Government, having regard to the temptations which she may find in that quarter of the House to look into the shortcomings of my colleague and myself. Therefore, her support is specially to be welcomed.

It is desirable that the House should. realise how this matter arises and, therefore, I may be excused if I state how I regard it. The first question is, did. the Departmental Committee contemplate and did it propose that there should be a statutory advisory committee? On the Second Reading more than one speech was made from the benches opposite which complained that the Bill as we had introduced it did not carry out the intentions of the Departmental Committee, among other things, because it contained no Clause which created an advisory committee. I am not quite sure whether that view is still persisted in, but, if it is, I should like to deal with it and dispose of it. There is no justification for saying that the Departmental Committee recommended. that a. Clause should be inserted in. the new legislation. to provide for an advisory, committee. There are two places, in the report of the committee, which was a unanimous report, which deal with the matter, the passage quoted by the hon. Member for Westhoughton, which is in the concluding portion of. the report, paragraph 13, and also an earlier and fuller passage, on page 30.

As I pointed out on the Second Reading, nobody could read those paragraphs clearly without noting that the Departmental Committee, while it was suggesting certain amendments of the law, which we, have. endeavoured to include in this new added to that a. recommendation, which was, not itself a proposed amendment of the law, but was couched in terms which were a recommendation to the executive and a recommendation which I stated on the Second Reading of the Bill I was most glad to accept and would undertake to carry out. The committee say, on page 30: We desire, in conclusion, to offer a suggestion of a general character. That is, a suggestion of a general character.


Will the right hon. Gentleman read the final paragraph which says: A provision of a more positive character.


I will do my best to read what is relative and complete, but let us begin at the beginning. The committee say: We desire in conclusion to offer a suggestion of a general character. It appears to us certain that from time to time questions will arise in connection with the working of the shift system, on which the Home Office, as the Department responsible for the administration of the system, would find it advantageous to consult leading representatives of employers and workers, with a view to arriving at solutions which would be generally acceptable and so facilitating the smooth working of the system. Then they give as an illustration the suggestion that the Advisory Committee might help by advising as to the method by which the opinion of the workpeople should be obtained. That matter has now been put beyond doubt by a provision, inserted during the Committee stage upstairs, that that method shall be a secret ballot. What was the passage to which the hon. Member wished me to call attention?


The last paragraph.


This paragraph: A provision of a more positive character, such as we suggest, which would secure for the Department representation of both points of view on any questions that may arise and would help to enlist the co-operation of both sides in the application and operation of the system, might, we think, be fruitful and replace with advantage the existing procedure of a joint representation. That passage, which the hon. Member thinks might assist us, follows an intermediate passage which says: There is a provision in the, existing Statute which allows of joint representations being made to the Secretary of State by organisations representing a majority of the employers and workers in an industry that Orders allowing the two shift system should not be made for that industry. No such representations have ever been made and the provision has remained inoperative. When one looks at paragraph 13, on page 32—I do not see how anyone could suggest that it was intended that the Secretary of State should propose, and that Parliament in this present month should define once and for all in the framework of the Bill, exactly what the functions of that Committee should be. The report further says: It would he advantageous if a standing advisory body could be constituted by the Secretary of State, composed of leading representatives of employers and workers, who could be consulted as occasion arose on questions of importance in connection with the application and operation of the two shift system. As the hon. Lady opposite has pointed out, the hon. Member far Mansfield (Mr. Charles Brown), the only hon. Member who served on the Departmental Committee, drawn from the Benches opposite—


The hon. Lady was a Member, of the Committee, and she is on this side of the House.


I meant the only hon. Member on the Departmental Committee drawn from the official Opposition. His speech on Second Reading will long be remembered for the way he "laid about" him and explained his own opinion, but he never for one moment suggested that anyone contemplated in the Departmental Committee that there should be a Clause in the Bill providing for an advisory committee. Although that is so, I can assure hon. Members opposite that if, any advantage would be gained by it, I. should not in the last mind proposing it—I do not want pedantically to follow the recommendations of the Committee—but the report of the Committee satisfies me that the wiser thing is for the advisory committee to be appointed in the way that such committees are usually appointed and to leave it to the Secretary of State for the time being to settle its functions and its composition. In that way we can be certain of getting a flexibility which we should never get if we endeavoured to define these matters here and now in this Bill.

Let us look at the proposed new Clause moved by the hon. Member. This is his second effort. He proposes that the advisory committee shall consist of eight persons, to represent equally the interest of the employers and the work-people. Unless I entirely misunderstand the Clause, that means that you cannot have more than eight. Incidentally, eight is an even number, so that if it should unfortunately happen that the four representatives of one party did not happen to agree with the four representatives of the other party, you would have a stalemate at once. No provision is made in the new Clause for an independent chairman. There is no provision for any representative from the Factory Department—I was glad to hear the hon. Member pay a very well-merited compliment to the inspectors of the Factory Department. No provision is made in the Clause for a woman representative, in terms, although this is largely a problem affecting women and girls. No provision is made in the Clause for anyone drawn from services specially concerned with health. I do not know whether four representatives of the work-people and four representatives of the employers would necessarily be specially skilled to determine the problem of whether the two-shift system is or is not bad for health. There was some extremely valuable medical evidence offered by certain witnesses to the Departmental Committee, and when the Committee had heard all the evidence they reported that they could not find any ground for believing that the two-shift system was bad for health.

Under the new Clause there would be four representatives of the employers and four representatives of the workpeople, and it would be a committee which could not be added to or subtracted from. Is that the way that Parliament is to make provision for dealing with this problem? What is the committee to do? I listened with attention to the very persuasive speech of the hon. Member for Batley and Morley (Mr. Brooke), who described some of the things that the advisory committee might do, but he did not describe what this new Clause says they could do. The Clause says that this committee of four workpeople and four employers—I suppose some would have to be drawn from Scotland, because the Bill will apply to Scotland, and some also, I hope, from Wales—must advise: in particular, as to any complaints which may be received regarding the operation of any authorisation under this Act. Hitherto, complaints as regards the working of the Factory Acts have been attended to in the first instance by His Majesty's inspectors, under a very skilled Department at-the Home Office, and anyone who is in the least worth his salt as a Home Secretary or Under-Secretary himself takes a close interest in such cases that are brought to his notice. Let us assume that there is a complaint, a manifest, undeniable complaint, which justifies forthwith the cancellation by the Home Secretary of the authorisation that he has given. Such a case might arise, but the new Clause would prevent the Secretary of. State from dealing with a complaint of that sort until he had summoned this advisory committee of four representatives of the employers and four representatives of the workpeople, because according to the Clause he must be advised by the statutory committee: as to any complaints which may be received regarding the operation of any authorisation. It is necessary in such cases to act quickly, but according to the new Clause the Secretary of State must not do that. He must allow the admitted evil to go on until he has called this advisory committee together to advise him. I think the whole thing is preposterous. Anyone who has read the new Clause will not be surprised at the hon. Member's declaration that, speaking for himself, he is opposed to the system. We must, however, frame our Bill not on the basis that we are opposed to a system which Parliament is prepared to approve, not that we are opposed to a system which has been in operation since 1920, and which every Government in turn has continued to authorise under the Expiring Laws Continuance Act, but we must give the system a proper basis on which to work, with proper safeguards. If I were an opponent of the whole system, then I might accept an advisory committee, composed of four representatives of the workpeople and four representatives of the employers, who might be expected in many cases to differ, with the result that the Secretary of State could not move hand or foot.


It does not say that.


The right hon. Gentleman knows better than that.


If the hon. Member will look at the Clause he will see that. There is to be a committee which is to advise the Secretary of State in particular as to any complaints which may be received.


The right hon. Gentleman must read the germane part of the Clause, which is: …and it shall be the duty of this advisory committee to advise the Secretary of State generally as to the operation of this Act. He forgets to read that.


Perhaps the House will allow me to read that part of the Clause again. It is as follows: …and it shall be the duty of this advisory committee to advise the Secretary of State generally as to the operation of this Act and, in particular, as to any complaints which may be received regarding the operation of any authorisation under this Act. I can only submit that those words mean that the Secretary of State has a duty to refer to this body any complaint which may be received regarding the operation of any authorisation under this Act, and to ask for their advice upon it. I am saying that that completely upsets the whole of the administrative methods which are followed in this great Department which has been in the hands of so many Secretaries of State drawn from so many parties. There has never been a case in the whole history of the Factory Acts from beginning to end, where you will find a statutory advisory committee set up, in which Parliament has said that the work which an administrator has to do, advised by his own skilled advisers and helped by the factory inspectors, is only to be done after referring complaints to an advisory committee.

The reason why I have made these observations—and I am sorry the hon. Member below the Gangway opposite should think they were unfairly made—is to bring to his mind and to the minds of other hon. Members this point, that you cannot put, into an Act of Parliament a precise definition of what an advisory committee is to do without crystallising and limiting its powers. My conception is quite different. My conception is that the Secretary of State will appoint an advisory committee, in the way that I described on the Second Reading, and I. shall certainly take the opportunity of consulting with representatives of all the interests concerned. I should have thought such a committee would have been likely to consist partly of employers and partly of workpeople with an independent chairman, that it would have been a body to which from time to time the Secretary of State might have referred particular questions upon which he might feel that it would be helpful to have advice, that the committee would sometimes have made some original suggestions, that cases might have arisen where the Secretary of State would have added to the committee, in view of the trade involved or of the part of the country from which the problem came, members for that special purpose.

None of those things could be done under this proposed new Clause. If you want to do that, you must authorise the carrying of a Bill which does not itself define the precise composition of the committee or its functions, and you must accept the assurance of the Home Office, which I gave at the first possible moment, that we would carry out the recommendation of the report and constitute an advisory committee accordingly. I will gladly listen to what other hon. Members; may have to say, because my mind is not in the least closed if I have made a mistake, but my belief is that if such a committee is to be properly worked, it will be better done by the system usually employed, the system which I described on the Second Reading of the Bill and in Committee upstairs, than if the House attempts to define statutorily what the committee is to do or how it is to be composed. I hope the House will confirm the view taken by the Committee upstairs, where the suggestion was not in the same form—indeed, I think it was in a better form than the, present proposal—and reject the proposal of the hon. Member.

There is one last point. When this was suggested by the Departmental Committee, the principal difficulty which they had in mind—and it is a very real one—was this: How are you to ascertain fairly the opinion of the workpeople concerned I It is a very serious point, and hon. Members opposite, as well as hon. Members on this side, are quite right to look at it very closely. I have myself done a certain amount of work on it and tried to understand it. It is Very important, if yon are to, establish this neat system permanently instead of continuing it year by year under an annual Act, that you should secure that it is carried out under proper conditions, which involve getting the real judgment of the workpeople. In Committee upstairs we inserted words which secured that it should be by secret ballot, and it was this very problem of what would be the best way of finding out what the Workpeople concerned really wished to do which was a reason, the first reason, perhaps the principal reason, why the Departmental Committee suggested the appointment of an advisory committee.

That particular point has been disposed of, but there are plenty of other occasions upon which, I am sure, an advisory committee would be most helpful. I would myself, in the interests of the administration of this system, strongly urge hon. Members of this House who wish this system to be given a fair trial to realise that questions may arise which it is very difficult for any of us to define now, and it is much better that the advisory committee should be one which is really able to deal with each new problem of that sort when it arises: I must sincerely state to the House, because it is not a matter on which anybody need be obstitate—it does not matter to me—what is the view of those who advise me in the Department which the hon. Gentleman opposite has so highly praised, that it would be a much more efficient method if we did not attempt the difficult task of defining the terms of reference of this advisory committee in the Bill or of deciding What its composition should be, but that we should do what I am sure the Departmental Committee intended; namely, that it should be set up with a very much more flexible constitution than even the best drafted Clause could provide.

I Understand that the hon. Member opposite, in putting this Clause forward, is ready to consider any necessary Amendments which would make it slightly more effectively framed, and I am not criticising his words because I think they are faulty, but because they bring to mind the real point, which is that is not a wise thing to try to define the constitution or the functions of this advisory committee in set terms at present, and for that reason I hope the House will take the view of the hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey, who was a member of the Departmental Committee, and reject this proposed new Clause.

4.39 p.m.


I represent a constituency where a great number of women and young persons employed who in all probability inky be affected by this Bill if it becomes an Act. I regret very much indeed that I was unfortunate in not being able to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, during the Second Reading of the Bill, and also that I had no chance of expressing my opinions on this Bill when it was passing through Committee upstairs. However, I have been deeply concerned with these provisions, and with the absence of certain provisions which Members on this side are anxious to see incorporated in the Bill. I have read very carefully indeed the proposed new Clause moved by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), and I must confess that its wording does not appear to me to be entirely satisfactory. Yet while I did sit and listen with great patience to the first part of the Minister's speech in dealing with the proposed new Clause, and, I may say with some measure of satisfaction, I listened at first with some trepidation, knowing the reputation of the Government and how very difficult it is sometimes to get agreements implemented that are not specifically laid down in a Bill.

At the same time I admit that to some extent I was mollified and prepared in a measure to accept the promise that the right hon. Gentleman made, that he would himself set up this advisory committee, but I regret to say that when he came to discuss the terms of the proposed new Clause itself, his attitude so changed that it wrought a complete change in my own attitude of mind, and I felt that after all I could not allow the occasion to pass without drawing attention to the circumstance, at any rate, that the Secretary of State is not very favourably disposed towards the proposals of Members on this side of the House. We are conscious, of course, of our own deficiencies, we are conscious of our limitations, and we are sometimes rather bitterly conscious of the causes of those limitations and deficiencies. We regret that advantages possessed by hon. Mem- bers opposite, including the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, are advantages which have not been our advantages, and consequently we expect, not suave scorn to be poured upon our efforts under the pretence of a desire to help, but that those who have great gifts, especially when they have had great advantages for the cultivation of those gifts, should prove the sincerity of their profession of a desire to help by some genuine effort to help, instead of by pouring scorn on the efforts of those less capable than themselves.

At least there is no lack of honesty upon these benches, and if the right hon. Gentleman had been prepared to meet us with the same honest and candid consideration of the proposed new Clause and had indicated his willingness to help us in the framing of a better Clause, I do not think he would have found us unwilling to have met him more than half way. The right hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I spew in terms of some heat, because of the recollection of a past by no means free from painful experiences, and say that nothing is more calculated to foster and develop and call forth expressions of anger as a result of those painful experiences in the past than to be compelled to witness the spectacle of men who share the advantages which the Secretary of State shares, men who have great gifts, and who, instead of using them to elucidate points that ought to be familiar and capable of being dealt with so by himself, use their great gifts rather to belittle and make to appear insignificant and incapable hon. Members on this side who have not had the advantages which he has had.


I am very sorry that any hon. Member should feel so, and if the hon. Member feels it sincerely I am sure he will allow me to say how ninth I regret it. But I am afraid he has not quite followed me. I do not take the view that if different words were employed, it would be a good thing to add this Clause to the Bill. I have tried to explain to the Douse why I take the view, which I think is widely shared, that it would be better not to have any such Clause inserted in the Bill, and that nobody at this stage could produce a Clause which defined exactly what the advisory committee should do or how it should be constituted. I regret that the hon. Member opposite should have felt hurt at anything that I said.


I accept the Home Secretary's protestation that he has no desire to wound anybody's feelings or to treat with scorn their humble efforts to improve legislation. I must draw the attention of the House to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman tried to show that the proposed new Clause had certain implications which he, with his legal mind, must have understood it did not really contain. It is true that the Clause relates to certain duties which might be performed satisfactorily by an advisory committee, but it by no means precludes the Secretary of State or the Department from carrying out their respective duties. Under the Clause the Secretary of State himself would nominate the Committee and, therefore, I cannot see the objection to it. There may be legal objections which do not present themselves to the ordinary lay mind. I listened to them, and I confess that they have no weight with an ordinary plain-thinking and perhaps, unfortunately, a plain-speaking person like myself. I hope the Committee will agree with the Clause.

4.48 p.m.


I find it difficult to appreciate the unwillingness of the Secretary of State to agree to the setting up of an advisory committee. As far as I can judge, an advisory committee is absolutely essential if you are to secure for the workers under a two-shift system what is called a fair crack of the whip. I do not think there is much likelihood of the workers being able to express themselves by means of a secret ballot. English industry is changing and the two-shift system in the future affecting new industries will bring tremendous difficulties for women and young girls. The hon. Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) said that the Committee received evidence to the effect that the two-shift system would not have an evil effect on the health of girls and young women. I do not know whether the Committee had any evidence from North Wales, but in my judgment, after two years of experience, I think that a two-shift system will seriously affect the health of girls and young women. It has been in operation in places where people have been aggregated in large numbers, and girls and young women have had to go only short distances to their work. It is an entirely different position in North Wales. The new industries are not being established in big industrial centres—


The hon. Member is dealing with an Amendment which comes later. This Clause deals with the setting up of an advisory committee.


I was trying to deal with a question which would be dealt with by such an advisory committee, the conditions which would affect the health of the workpeople—


The advisory committee might have to deal with all sorts of subjects, and if we were to discuss them all we should take up more time than we ought to do on this Clause.


I hope to deal with North Wales and the question of new industries later.


There is an Amendment on Clause 1, page 2, to leave out lines 18 to 26, which deals with the point.


I will await my opportunity on a later Amendment. I feel that an advisory committee should- be set up, because one of the difficulties in the past has been to get from the Home Office that attention to these labour matters which is desirable.

4.53 p.m.


The Departmental Committee were in favour of setting up a committee to advise the Home Office, and for some time I have not been able to understand why an advisory committee should not be in the Bill. Contrary to the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Marklew) the speech of the Home Secretary has made it quite clear to me why it would be much better if the committee is not actually put into the Bill. It is obvious that the composition suggested in the Clause will not do, and that the Home Secretary should have power to alter the composition of the committee for the consideration of different questions as they crop up. I am sure the Opposition, like myself, want to safeguard the workers and to make a success of the double-shift system. I think they will be following their own wishes more completely if they withdraw the Clause and constitute a committee which would have more power to watch over the welfare and health of the workers. I have seen no deleterious effects on the health of people who work under the double-shift system and, indeed, by having two shifts you make more certain that good conditions for the workers will prevail. I hope the Clause will not be pressed, because I do not think it is in the interest of the workers.

4.55 p.m.


I am amazed at some of the statements of the Home Secretary. His argument against the Clause that it makes no mention of women, of Wales or of Scotland certainly shows the poverty of his arguments. If he desired to have Scottish representatives, they could be appointed, so also as regards Wales, and also as regards women. It is difficult to understand why he used such an argument unless he had no other against the proposal. He said that the proposal would prevent his Department acting quickly. I am delighted to hear that at last the Home Office is prepared to act quickly when dealing with labour matters. It will be a new departure. In the past, when we have pointed out that employers and great combines were operating the two-shift system illegally, we could not prevail on the Home Office to take action quickly. It was trade union action which compelled these people to cease operating the two-shift system which they had introduced illegally. I suggest that an advisory committee would be able to deal with complaints which may not be illegal, but which may be most disadvantageous to the people in the industry. If there is anything illegal being done, surely the Home Secretary is not going to consult an advisory committee. I hope he will take action at once whenever there is any illegality.

Really I find it difficult to understand any of the points put forward by the Home Secretary. He said that there would be a difficulty as to the representation of particular trades. I notice that he did not appoint the Commission with any regard to particular trades, although he is proposing to shelter himself behind the signature of an hon. Member on this side of the House, a representative of the engineers union, who signed that report. The Home Office is proposing to shelter themselves behind that signature. Those who have had experience of the two-shift system since its first operation in 1920 know that there are many things attaching to it which need investigation, but which might not be considered by the Home Office sufficient to justify them in cancelling these certificates. There are conditions which may require remedy from the point of view of the workpeople. Those are matters to be considered by an advisory committee. The suggestion of the Home Office is to bring the factory inspectors into the discussion as to whether or not certain conditions are unfavourable for the workpeople., If you are going to bring the factory inspectors into the discussion well and good, but once you bring civil servants into the field in connection with this matter we may have to attack or we may have to approve of whatever action they take.

I am opposed to the two-shift system because I have seen it in operation and I have not known of any advantage in it to the workpeople. Many of us thought that we had at last got away from the 6 a.m. start, but under this system a 6 a.m. start can be made operative for young people at 16. As was so well pointed out by the hon. Member who submitted the proposed new Clause, we are asking young people to work under those conditions while we have some 2,000,000 unemployed in the country. We shall be cutting at the roots of family life in this country if we go back to a system which means hours of work starting at 6 o'clock in the morning and ending at 10 o'clock in the evening. We have the promise of the present occupant of the office of Home Secretary that an advisory committee may be set up but no reason has been advanced against a committee such as is proposed in the new Clause to advise the Home Secretary on these matters.

The question of the secret ballot has been mentioned. I hope hon. Members realise what this secret ballot means. It is to be taken among the people who happen to be in a particular employment at a particular moment and they can decide that the two-shift system is to be operated in that particular establishment or department. Every one of those who vote in that way may be discharged from that employment but the system will still be in operation for people who never had the chance of voting on the proposal. They will have to take the employment, because the Ministry of Labour will insist that unless they do so they will be robbed of benefit.

Mr. DEPUTY - SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)

I think the hon. Member is now going rather wide of the proposed new Clause.


I hope not to go against your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I am only pointing out one of the matters upon which such a committee might very well advise the Home Secretary. I wish to show the possibility of injustices being inflicted upon people. The Home Secretary has referred to certain things in regard to which he could not act until the advisory committee had reported if our proposal were accepted. But these are matters upon which the advice should be taken immediately. Apparently the Home Secretary refuses to accept his proposal merely because it is something new. I do not see why the House should not be prepared to adopt a proposal even though it is new. I hope the House will divide upon this question. I would like to see the House deciding to put into the Bill something which will alleviate any hardships and injustices inflicted upon boys and girls who are to be forced into these factories at 6 o'clock in the morning and may have to work until 10 o'clock at night without having those reasonable opportunities for education and recreation to which they are entitled.

5.5 p.m.


Anyone who had not a real knowledge of the Bill and the proposed new Clause would imagine from the speech of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) that, if we passed the Bill without the Clause, young people in this country would be compelled to work from 6 o'clock in the morning until 10 o'clock at night. Of course, nothing of the sort is proposed. If they start work at 6 o'clock in the morning they will be free for the afternoon and will be able to enjoy some daylight for their pleasure and their leisure in the winter months which is not possible at present. But I do not propose to follow the hon. Member into a discussion of the Bill or the two-shift system as a whole. I wish to confine my remarks to the proposed new Clause. I wonder why those who put down the Clause did not adopt the wording of the Departmental Committee's report which suggested that an advisory body should be set up to advise the Horne Secretary as occasion arose on questions of importance in connection with the application and operation of the system. I suppose hon. Members opposite did not think that that recommendation went far enough. The Clause seems to go a great deal further. We are told that it is not intended that any complaint which may he received shall go before the committee but that is the effect of the Clause as I read it. Any complaint must go to the committee and that would not be a workable arrangement, as I think hon. Members opposite themselves have agreed. The hon. Member for Rochdale suggested that under the Bill we were not to have any advisory committee. I do pot think that those who have heard this Debate or the discussions in Committee, if they spoke with care and thought, choosing their words, would say that there was not to be an advisory committee. We have had an assurance from the Home Secretary that there is to be an advisory committee and he has explained the reasons why, if this Clause were put into the Bill, it would not do what hon. Members want it to do.

The Home Secretary has already pointed out the difficulties that would arise if you were to have representatives on such a body from different parts of the country. If the advisory body is to he a rigid statutory body consisting only of eight people who are to represent employers and employé I do not think it will he sufficient. That is not the type of committee we desire. The Home Secretary and also hon. Members opposite asked what was the use of talking about a representative from Scotland and a representative from Wales. If you are to have on this statutory body only four members representing the workpeople and four members representing the employers and if you have one from Scotland and one from Wales on each side that will only leave two on each side, How are you going to select two people capable of advising on all this wide variety of subjects? It will be necessary to have people who can deal with the educational side and the health side as well as with the industrial side of the various questions which will arise.

I feel that the proposed new Clause would not fulfil the purpose which we would all desire an advisory committee to fulfil as laid down in the Departmental Committee's report. If it is to be fixed at eight members and if it is to be confined to those who appear to represent employers and workpeople respectively, it will not be satisfactory. I would like to see on such a committee people who, for want of a better term, are called social workers and who have more to do with the regulation of these matters on the social side than in other respects—people such as those who gave evidence to the Departmental Committee who know the needs of the situation from different paints of view and who are acquainted with particular local interests and requirements. I think a rigid statutory committee of the kind proposed in the new Clause would not be a help but a, hindrance. If this scheme is to be worked at all, we all want to see it worked for the best and we want to get the best advice in working it. I know that a great many hon. Members opposite do not approve of the system at all and would vote against the Bill as a whole, as they did on the Second Reading, but if the Bill is to pass, and if the system which has been tried for many years is to become a permanent part of our industrial system, I am sure they will agree that we want it to be tried under the best possible conditions.

I suggest that if they give further consideration to the wording of this Clause and to the inflexibility of the body which it proposes, they must recognise that it would not be the kind of body to give the Minister the best possible advice. Had they adopted the wording of the Departmental Committee it would have gone a long way with me but I submit to the House that a consideration of the actual wording of the Clause shows how difficult it would be to put into the Bill a. definition of a committee such as we want. When we have the assurance of the Home Secretary that there is to be an advisory body I do not see why we should adopt this proposal. We have embodied in this Bill practically all the suggestions of the Departmental Committee. We have gone further in some respects and have been more definite on certain points. If the advisory committee has not been put into the Bill, I think it is desirable that it should be a flexible committee rather than a rigid statutory body. I want a committee which can look ahead and deal with difficulties that may arise in the future. I hope that the proposed new Clause will be withdrawn and that a better committee than that proposed will be set up for the benefit of all the people who are to work this system.

5.15 p.m.


The point which we have to consider is whether it would be better to set up an advisory committee under the Bill or whether these matters should be left to a voluntary committee. I am by no means impressed by the arguments which have been used against the wording of the Clause, and I thought the Home Secretary took a rather biased view of the question. He pointed out all the possible disadvantages of the Clause and said its drafting was restrictive from a legal point of view. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said that this is not a matter on which we can get very heated. He said he has an open mind, and as long as it is not open at both ends, I do not mind very much. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that if we could convince him that the best method would be to put a Clause of this nature in the Bill, he would have no difficulty in finding the right wording for it. It is quite true that this legislation has been carried on for a period of 16 years and that it has been renewed from year to year, but it has never been really acceptable to the trade unionists of this country. When the Labour Government was in office many of us were rather disappointed that they continued the Bill from year to year, and we were rather amused by the arguments which they used to persuade the House to allow the Bill to be carried on.

Now, however, we have finished with the Measure as a temporary one and it is to be made a permanent part of the law. Now it is to be part and parcel of the law, there may, and I think there probably will, be an extension of the two-shift system to many trades and industries apart from those in which it is already in operation, and that being the case, I am satisfied in my own mind that an advisory committee is absolutely necessary. It is not so much a question of an advisory committee receiving complaints on what is within the Act, but, in the words of this Clause, complaints which may be received regarding the operation of any authorisation under this Act. This two-shift system has been in operation in certain trades and industries, and has been applied chiefly by firms already having the reputation of being pretty good employers. It is now proposed to widen the scope of this Measure. Let me in this connection refer to the baking industry, on which I am competent to speak. The development which is now taking place in the baking industry is that the small employers are being wiped out and the tendency is towards centralisation. You are beginning to get factory-made cakes which, incidentally, speaking as an expert, I would not recommend to any Member of this House. If that development continues there might be a two-shift system, and then there would be factories in which practically the whole of the employés would be women and girls. This Bill proposes to allow small children—I think I may call them—of 16 years of age to come under the operation of the two-shift system. They are to be allowed to work on the afternoon shift up till 10 o'clock at night.

I am not at all sure whether we should not be well advised to have included in this Bill a Clause setting up this advisory committee for the purpose of inquiring into the operation of this Bill so far as it affects the well-being and the moral and social welfare of small children of 16 years of age who leave a factory at 10 o'clock at night and who, in many instances, have to spend half an hour, three-quarters of an hour, or an hour in getting home. If we are to have this Bill—and if the Government are determined to have it, they will have it, of course—our duty on this side is to try to safeguard as far as we can the interests of all concerned. I do not agree with some of my friends on this side of the House who necessarily think that the Secretary of State for the Home Department is less sympathetic on this matter than we are ourselves. I do not think anything of the kind. I have had experience of the Horne Office under many Governments and I say in all sincerity that the Home Office have always been willing and ready, irrespective of the Government in office, to listen to representations on matters of this sort.

I have some doubt as to the voluntary advisory committee, as to the powers it is to be given and the things it will be given to do. I have some doubts as to whether it will see this matter as I see it, that it is not only the strict letter of the law that requires attention, but rather all the effect which a Bill of this nature has on the lives of these very young children. I am very sorry that 16 years of age is in this Bill at all; I see no great necessity for it and I think 18 years of age would have been quite all right. I was not convinced by the arguments used by the hon. Lady the Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh), who has spoken against this Clause. I regret very much indeed that the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. C. Brown) is prevented by illness from being present, because we would have liked very much to have heard his views on this particular matter. It may be that the hon. Member for Mansfield was prepared to support this Measure, but I think we have a right to say that if he were here this afternoon he might be supporting us in setting up a statutory advisory committee under this Bill. We are just as much justified in believing he would take our point of view as hon. Members opposite are in believing he would take their point of view. In any case, during the discussions which have taken place on this Clause I feel that a, great deal of respect has been paid to the Departmental Committee. This is one of those remarkable occasions when all the recommendations of a Departmental Committee appear to coincide with the views of the Home Office and the Secretary of State.


We adopted their views.


If that be the case, it is a compliment to the Departmental Committee. I am rather inclined to put it to the Secretary of State that the Departmental Committee was guided so carefully by those in charge that the views of the right hon. Gentleman were imperceptibly impressed upon the Committee. I do not know whether that is the case, because I did not serve upon the Committee, but I have known Departmental Committees to make excellent reports on various matters and Secretaries of State to say that it is im- possible to accept their recommendations. Perhaps it is unfortunate for us on this side of the House that our own representative on the Committee saw eye to eye with the remainder of the members, but I do wish to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman that because this report was unanimous he must not believe it really expresses the feelings of those of us who represent the workpeople in industry. We are compelled by the force of circumstances and by a Government majority to accept this Bill very unwillingly. I beg the right hon. Gentleman to look into this matter again. He will get his majority on this Clause, but in view of what I have said this afternoon, I beg him to see whether there is not some way and some form of words which would satisfy us that these young people, particularly these girls of 16, are to be protected.

A great deal has been said about the secret ballot. The hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) mentioned this in her speech, but unfortunately some of us who know the ins and out of industry, who represent work-people and who have negotiated with employers all our lives, know that work-people can be given secret ballots and that inevitably they will turn out the way the employers want. Perhaps that is because the workpeople have not the courage to stand up to the employers, but that is no reason why we should not protect them. After all, the vast majority of workmen have a great sense of loyalty towards the firm which employs them, and if the firm says it wants to have the two-shift system, even though the workpeople may not like it they feel a sense of loyalty to the firm and do not like to vote against it. We must take some steps to protect them. I am not now referring to the technical breaches of the law, for it is rather to deal with things which come outside technical breaches of the law that I would like this advisory committee to be set up. I hope it will be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to give some assistance. Even if he will not accept this particular wording and method, I beg him to look into the matter and see whether it is possible for him to do something.

5.27 p.m.


I rise with some hesitation to take part in this Debate, because I have not been in the Chamber very long; but some of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) rather inspire me to make a few comments I hope I shall not say anything which will take me beyond the rules of order, because I was not quite clear whether the hon. Member for Wednesbury made a Second Reading speech in opposition to the whole Bill or whether he was supporting the new Clause on the Order Paper, but I take it that he felt he could not support the new Clause without making some fairly wide references to the general subject-matter of the Bill. Honestly, I do not think any of the persons described in this Bill will feel any particular hardship if they work on a shift which starts at six o'clock in the morning and ends at two o'clock, with an hour's break, or if they start at one o'clock and finish at 10 o'clock, with a break. It does not seem to me that this is something which the hulk of them will regard as unduly oppressive. The argument for the setting up of a statutory committee is really based on the idea that these conditions of employment will be oppressive. I do not think most of us who have worked in factories would have regarded them as oppressive.


Did the hon. Member ever work in a factory?


I happened to be connected with one. In pre-War days, with a few exceptions, the normal starting hour was six o'clock in the morning and very often the employés did not finish until five o'clock in the afternoon, and sometimes it was half-past five, a very much longer period than we are inclined to think about in these days.


Girls did not work in factories in those days.


There were boys under 16 working in them.


Did they like that?


I am merely saying what used to happen. It was not my experience that the apprentices in the place where I worked regarded themselves as unduly oppressed. On the other hand, I welcomed the reduction in hours which took place, generally speaking, during 1919 and 1920. I had an extensive opportunity of discussing and studying the economic effects of that reduction as the honorary secretary of a committee of inquiry constituted both by the employers and by the trade unions concerned. It turned out that, broadly speaking, the change did not cause any economic disadvantages. When things bad shaken down, there was not much adverse effect on production, and in a great many cases none at all. This change will clearly have the effect of improving the efficiency of production and will make it much more possible for higher wages to be paid. That has to be borne in mind. If you operate your capital for twice as long—


I fail to connect the hon. Member's argument with the proposed new Clause.


I was afraid that the hon. Member would lead me astray. He used a, general criticism of the Bill as an argument for the setting up of a statutory committee. I agree with the Bishop who said that if Noah had had a committee he would never have built the Ark. If we surround the actions of a Minister with a series of statutory committees this will, in the long run, hamper his work very much, and make it difficult for him to act promptly. In the long run this committee would not facilitate things, but delay them. If a Minister decides from time to time that there are particular problems in connection with the administration of any Act, it would be helpful if he asked a committee to look into them, but if we appoint a committee of this kind, which is to have a roving commission and power to act on its own initiative, the Secretary of State will be hampered in his administration of the Bill. It is not necessary to have such a committee because there is a necessary check on a Minister in this House if he does anything stupid. We should do well to reject the proposed Clause and to trust the Secretary of State to see that whatever is necessary is done by him as an ordinary administrative duty.

5.32 p.m.


I hope that the Home Secretary who said that he had an open mind on this question, will have been convinced by the arguments that have been advanced and will have found on reflection that he is able to accept the new Clause. I gather that he is anxious to have an advisory committee but that he is not prepared to put it in statutory form in the Bill. One of his arguments against the proposed Clause was that the language was very loose. Surely he could have that amended in another place if he desired to have it. That argument was very weak. Another point in his argument was in regard to the proposed number of persons on this committee. Eight would be a maximum, and they would be drawn from the work-people and employers in equal numbers and from social workers and experts. There is no reason why they should be equally divisible, as was suggested by the Home Secretary. The imperative matter is that the Home Secretary and his Department should be convinced that the persons who have to work under this Bill have as humane treatment as possible.

This Bill is creating a precedent and setting up a system which will continue in perpetuity and increase substantially as the years go by. We had a discussion yesterday about the setting up of light industries in the Special Areas. One can well see that young persons of 18 and over will be the type of worker to be engaged in ever increasing numbers in these light industries. With the application of new technique and inventions to industry young persons, and particularly girls, are being employed in ever increasing numbers, and the two-shift system is likely to be a permanent and growing feature of our industrial life. That being so, it is imperative that the Home Secretary should have at his disposal persons who could reflect the measure of ill or good that this new system might be doing. They would be able to report from time to time the ill effects of the system and would be in a position to advise how they should be removed.

There will be no way of eliciting the necessary information and advice unless a statutory body is laid down in the Bill. There are a large number of people who are prepared to act philanthropically and to give their knowledge and advice whenever it is sought, but the Home Secretary will treat this matter very lightly if he leaves it to philanthropic ladies and gentlemen who may be specialists in sociology and other subjects. It is essential that these young persons should have built around them a defence—social defence works, call them what you will—but it is imperative that they should be defended against any hardships that this system may impose on them. That defence can only be built by personalities with knowledge and experience, who are able to tender advice and to see whether the operation of the two-shift system is working harm on the juveniles who are employed.

I should get out of order if I followed the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams). I know what it is to start at five o'clock in the morning and to work underground as a lad for many hours, but I would not dare to make the confession, as the hon. Member did, that I liked it. I do not know whether he meant it when he stated that he revelled in going to the factory at six o'clock in the morning, but one often finds that when people are away from work they always talk about the good old times, while they are, at the same time, always struggling to run away from the horrible days of the past and using all the energy they have to impose the bad past on the present. We find these retrograde brains coming into the House in support of the present Government, and it makes me indignant when I hear people talk like that. If we are progressive we should realise that in this new age it is our duty to secure in legislation the maximum of humane treatment in industry. Much more consideration has been given to the machine than to the human being, because machinery obviously costs more. We ought, therefore, to take the opportunity of a Measure of this kind to set up a body of experienced persons to tender advice from time to time on the working of the two-shift system. I hope from what has been heard since the Home Secretary made his speech, particularly from the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield), who has so much knowledge of the two-shift system in industry, that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to accept the new Clause.

5.42 p.m.


We are all agreed that this Bill is likely to have a far-reaching effect on the young life of the nation. In many industrial centres it will affect the habits of the homes and the social life of the people. Consequently, it is important that there should be some permanent machinery which will watch the operation of the Measure. It is generally agreed on all sides that there should be an advisory committee, but we on this side are pressing that the committee should be a statutory body within the Bill itself. We press for it because we want to feel confident that such a committee will be set up and that, once it has been set up, it will not be allowed to lapse at the discretion of any future Home Secretary. Questions relating to the health and welfare of the workers concerned, and the hours of employment, must be continually watched. We, therefore, want to have an assurance that a permanent committee will be set up continually to watch the operations of the

Bill. There is no difference of opinion as to the scope and purposes of the committee. If the pedantic arguments of the Home Secretary are at all sound, he could secure Amendments to the new Clause in, another place. There is a case for a permanent standing committee, and because of the profound results that this Bill will have, that committee should be a statutory body.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The House divided: Ayes, 107; Noes, 278.

Division No. 177.] AYES. [5.45 p.m.
Adams, D. (Consett) Hardle, G. D. Parker, H. J. H.
Adamson, W. M. Henderson, A. (Klngtwlnford) Parkinson, J. A.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Potts, J.
Ammon, C. G. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Price, M. P.
Attlee, Rt. Han. C. R. Holland, A. Pritt, D. N.
Banfield, J. W. Hollins, A. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Barr, J. Hopkin, D. Rothschild, J. A. de
Batey, J. Jagger, J. Rowson, G.
Benson, G. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Sexton, T. M.
Bevan, A. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Shinwell, E.
Bromfleld, W. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Short, A.
Brooke, W. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Slikin, L.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S, Ayrshire) Kelly, W. T. Simpson, F. B.
Burke, W. A. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Cassells, T. Kirby, B. V. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Charleton, H. C. Lathan, G. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Chater, D. Leach, W. Sorensen, R. W.
Cluse, W. S. Lee, F. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Leonard, W. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Cocks, F. S. Leslie, J. R. Thorne, W.
Compton, J. Logan, D. G. Thurtle, E.
Daggar, G, Lunn, W. Tinker, J. J.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Viant, S. P.
Davies. S. O. (Merthyr) McEntee, V. La T. Walkden, A. G.
Day, H. 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) MacNeill, Weir, L. Welsh, J. C.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Marklew, E. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Gallacher, W. Marshall, F. Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Gardner, B. W. Mathers, G. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Garro-Jones, G. M. Milner, Major J. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Glbbins, J. Montague, F. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Green, W. H. (Depttord) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Muff, G. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Groves, T. E. Oliver, G. H. Mr. John and Mr. Whiteley.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Paling, W.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Blair, Sir R. Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstapie) Blindell, Sir J. Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Bouiton, W. W Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br.W.)
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W. Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb'fn)
Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Bracken, B. Channon, H.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Brass, Sir W. Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)
Apsley, Lord Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)
Aske, Sir R. W. Brocklebank, C. E. R. Choriton, A. E. L.
Assheton, R. Brown, Brig. -Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Christle, J. A.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Clarke, F. E.
Atholl, Duchess of Bull, B. B. Clarry, Sir Reginald
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Bullock, Capt. M. Cobb, Sir C. S.
Balniel, Lord Burton, Col. H. W. Col-fox, Major W. P.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Butler, R. A. Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)
Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury) Campbell, Sir E. T. Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Cartland, J, R. H. Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff(Wst'r S.G'gs)
Belt, Sir A. L. Carver, Major W. H. Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh,W.)
Bennett, Capt. Sir E. N. Cary, R. A. Courtauid, Major J. S.
Bernays, R. H. Castlereagh, Viscount Courthope, Col. Sir G. L.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Cautley, Sir H. S. Craddock, Sir R. H.
Critchley, A. Joel, D. J. B. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Crooke, J. S. Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Jones, L. (Swansea, W.) Rickards, G. W. (Sklpton)
Cross, R. H. Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Ropner, Colonel L.
Crossley, A. C. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Unlvs.) Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'derry)
Crowder, J. F. E. Klmball, L. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Culverwell, C. T. Klrkpatrick, W. M. Rowlands, G.
Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovll) Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
De Chair, S. S. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Runciman, Rt. Hon. W.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)
Denvlile, Alfred Leckie, J. A. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Dodd, J. S. Lees-Jones, J Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Donner, P. W. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Salt, E. W.
Dorman-Smith, Major R. H. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)
Dower, Capt. A. V. G. Levy, T. Savery, Servington
Drewe, C. Lewis, O. Scott, Lord William
Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop) Liddall, W. S. Seely, Sir H. M.
Dugdale, Major T. L. Lloyd, G. W. Selley, H. R.
Duggan. H. J. Loftus, P. C. Shakespeare, G. H.
Duncan, J. A. L. Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Dunglass, Lord Lyons, A. M. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Ellis, Sir G. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Emrys-Evans, P. V. M'Connell, Sir J. Smith, L. W. (Hallam)
Entwistle, C. F. McCorquodale, M. S. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.) Smithers, Sir W.
Evans, D, O. (Cardigan) Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross) Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Everard, W. L. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.
Flldes, Sir H. McKie, J. H. Spender-Clay, Lt.-Cl. Rt. Hn. H. H.
Foot, D. M. Maclay, Hon. J. P. Spens, W. P.
Fox, Sir G. W. G. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Fremantie, Sir F. E. Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Furness, S. N. Magnay, T. Stewart, William J. (Belfast, S.)
Fyfe, D. P. M. Mander, G. le M. Storey, S.
Ganzonl, Sir J. Mannlngham-Buller, Sir M. Stourton, Hon. J. J.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
George, Megan Lioyd (Anglesey) Markham, S. F. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Gibson, C. G. Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. C. K. M. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Gledhill, G. Maxwell, S. A. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)
Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Goldle, N. B. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Goodman, Col. A. W. Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Sutcliffe, H.
Gower, Sir R. V. Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Moreing, A. C. Tate, Mavis C.
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.) Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Gridley, Sir A. B. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddPgbro, W.) Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Unlv's.) Titchfield, Marquess of
Grimston, R. V. Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester) Touche, G. C.
Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Nail, Sir J. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Guest, Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll, N.W.) Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H. Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.
Gunston, Capt. D. W. Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Turton, R. H.
Guy, J. C. M. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. Wakefield, W. W.
Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Wallace, Captain Euan
Hanbury, Sir C. Owen, Major G. Ward, Lieut-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Hannah, I. C. Palmer, G. E. H. Ward, Irene (Wallsend)
Harmon, Sir P. J. H. Penny, Sir G. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Perkins, W. R. D. Wayland, Sir W. A.
Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Peters, Dr. S. J. Wells, S. R.
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Petherick, M. White, H. Graham
Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Pllkington, R. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Hepworth. J. Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Porritt, R. W. Williams, H. G. (Croydcn, S.)
Holmes, J. S. Pownall, Sir Assheton Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Procter, Major H. A. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Hopkinson, A. Radford, E. A. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Hore-Bellsha, Rt. Hon. L. Ralkes, H. V. A. M. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Horsbrugh, Florence Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Wragg, H.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Ramsbotham, H. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Hudson, R. S. (Southport) Ramsden, Sir E.
Hunter, T. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Rawson, Sir Cooper Lieut.-Colonel Llewellin and
Jackson, Sir H. Rayner, Major R. H. Captain Waterhouse.