§ 5.1 p.m.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 23, to leave out "still," and to insert "for the time being."
This is purely a drafting Amendment and is necessitated because of an Amendment which I accepted making it necessary that a date should be inserted in the exemption certificate. There was a feeling as the words of the Clause stood that if an exemption certificate were granted on 1st May dating from 1st July, the child might have an excuse for not attending school during the intervening two months. The object of the Amendment is to make certain that there will be no such excuse.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Mr. LECKIE
I beg to move, in page 2, line 24, to leave out "An," and to insert "No."
This proposal was fully discussed in Committee, but those who are associated with me regard this as a most important 1880 matter. This is called an Education Bill, and it raises the normal school age to 15. It is not a Bill primarily to secure exemption, and we regard it as important that this point should be emphasised. Under its provisions 15 is to be the normal age for leaving school. This should be emphasised. There is a subtle difference between the proposal in the Bill and the Amendment. The Clause says:An employment certificate shall be granted to the intended employer of the child if the issuing authority are satisfied,but the Amendment proposes that no employment certificate shall be granted unless the authority are satisfied. If the Bill is a genuine effort to raise the school age to 15, why not say so in the Bill, so that employers and everyone else will realise that exemptions are exceptional and are not the normal practice? In Committee the right hon. Gentleman said that even if the issuing authority are satisfied they are still under no obligation to grant the exemption. That, to my mind, is rather a far-fetched objection to the Amendment, and I do not think that any education authority would take up the line suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. The Amendment places the matter in a far better light than the words of the Bill, and I am sure it would do a great deal towards progress in the direction which we all desire.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
The hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. Leckie) has had exceptional experience of the administration of Education Acts. For years he has been associated with the education committee in his own area, and coming from him the Amendment naturally is important. I attach even more importance to it than the hon. Member. If this small word is altered, it will change the whole bias of the Bill. What we want, and what we understood was to be brought about by the Bill, is that the normal place of a, child up to the age of 15 shall be the school, and that only in exceptional circumstances, where a strong case is made out, will exemption be given. In Committee it became quite clear that the aim of the Minister was to bring about exactly the opposite effect, that the ordinary place of a child under the Bill is to be the workshop or the factory, and the exception that he should remain at school until 15 years of age. If we 1881 accept the Amendment, it will mean that the child will stay at school unless the education authority are satisfied that there is a strong case for exemption. If the President of the Board of Education accepts the Amendment, he will be giving an assurance of the sincerity of his belief in the principle of extending the school-leaving age; if he does not, he is giving way to the pressure of employers and those reactionaries who do not want to extend the period of education for the children of the country. These small words have a significance wholly out of proportion to their size. I hope that all hon. Members who have studied the question of education will support the Amendment.
§ 5.8 p. m.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
The Amendment would alter the whole bias of the Bill. I have never understood, apart from purely electoral reasons, why the Bill should not have been framed on the lines suggested by the Amendment. The President of the Board of Education decided to allow exemptions, and the natural inclination would be to say that exemptions should be granted at the discretion of the local authority. That is not what the right hon. Gentleman is doing by the Bill. I look forward to a situation in which the number of exemptions will diminish and a larger proportion of children will remain in school. When that situation is reached it may be the natural step for an education authority to say that it will bring the system of exempions to an end, but as the Bill now stands a local authority would not have that right. The Bill says that a child has a right to exemption for beneficial employment, which has been interpreted to mean "any suitable job." That means any ordinary job which is suitable according to the accepted standard of the area. It means that a child has a right to be exempted for any ordinary job. In Committee the right hon. Gentleman spoke about the rights of the child. What it really means is the right of an employer to cheap labour for any ordinary job. That is why the Amendment makes all the difference. It brings us back to the point that the natural protector of the child is the local education authority, but the Minister has so framed the Bill as to make it impossible for the local education authority to carry out its function fully.
§ 5.10 p.m.
I hope the President of the Board of Education will accept the Amendment. It would give us an assurance that the Government were in earnest when they said that they were going to raise the school-leaving age to 15. They were, of course, pledged to give exemptions, but when we tried to get the Minister to put in a definite time we were defeated in Committee. If the Minister will accept this proposal he will re-establish the Government's position in the country so far as education is concerned. I believe my right hon. Friend is sincere in his desire to raise the school-leaving age, and he has had enough experience of local education authorities to know that exemptions are granted in the most trivial way. "Beneficial employment" means in many cases cheap labour for those people who will turn these children out when they reach 16 years of age. The country realises the position far better than apparently the Minister or the Government. If he would give a lead in this matter he would certainly carry the House of Commons and the whole of the country with him. I admit that there are some people who believe in the "little hands," those diehards who will never change as long as they live. I do not look on the Minister as a diehard, but as a young man who sees visions. It is said that it is the young men who see visions and the old men who dream dreams, but I am coming to the conclusion that it is the old men who see visions and the young men who go to sleep without even dreaming.
Outside the House there is the greatest disappointment about this Bill, a terrific disappointment, which will be very evident unless the right hon. Gentleman changes the whole bias of the Measure. He could do that by accepting the Amendment and making exemptions the exception, and not the rule. The Minister is lagging behind the country in this respect. Local education authorities are begging us to raise the school age. It is an extraordinary thing that the Minister of Education should be lagging behind the education authorities. As a rule they have to be given a lead, but in this case they are leading and the Government are following on behind. The Minister would have a majority of the hon. Members with him if only he would 1883 give a lead, and I beg him to do so before it is too late. I know that he regrets tremendously having listened to the few employers who made him leave 300,000 children in blind-alley occupations. They are still there. When the Children Bill was brought in, I warned him that unless he brought forward legislation to cover those children at that time, he would never do it.
I warn him again that unless the Government give a lead the local authorities will not follow. The best of them are already doing it, but they find it very difficult, and we know that there are some education authorities which are in need of prodding by the Government. I wish that the House was full to-day, and that hon. Members interested in the welfare of the youth of the country and interested, I might say, in their Government, would ginger up the Front Bench. I implore the Minister to have the courage to say that he really means to raise the school-leaving age. I believe that in his heart he does mean that. This will be the acid test as to whether he means it or not. It is no good his trying to put us off as he did the other day when some of the old die-hard women said that they had sent five sons into employment and they had all done well. Those days are past. There exists an enormous amount of unemployment among juveniles from 18 to 21 years of age, and unless we definitely raise the school age, the numbers will be increased.
§ 5.18 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I think that there can have been few occasions on which some hon. Members returned to this House have more quickly forgotten one of the pledges on which they were returned. I do not believe for one moment that my Noble Friend is correct in saying that there is a majority in this House in favour of changing the emphasis of this Sub-section of the Clause as she suggests. If it were so, it would mean that there was a majority of Members supporting the National Government who had either not taken the trouble to read clearly the Memorandum issued by the Government, which dealt fully and explicitly with this subject, or, if they had read it carefully and based their election speeches on it, had forgotten a very important item in the reference to the raising of the school- 1884 leaving age. I have here the Memorandum issued by the Government on the eve of the election, and that Memorandum dealt at great length with the Government's education policy. It was stated in it that:the National Government have decided to legislate to raise the school-leaving age to 15 with a right to exemptions between 14 and 15 for beneficial employment.That is the policy on which the Government went to the country and the policy on which we, as their supporters, were returned, and we shall be unfaithful to our pledges if we ask for the emphasis to be altered in such a way that the right which was promised would be taken away. I would ask hon. Members opposite to remember the enormous majority by which the country supported the policy of the Government. I cannot say what other hon. Members found in their own constituencies during the election, but I know that I should have had many questions put to me at my meetings about the proposal to raise the school-leaving age if, in the same breath that I announced the Government's intention to raise the age, I had not been able to say that there would be a right to exemption below the age of 15 for beneficial employment. Therefore I hold that my right hon. Friend is absolutely pledged to stick to the wording of the Clause as it is, and I cannot see how, now that I have reminded hon. Members of the policy so clearly stated by the Government in their Memorandum, they can do differently.
I would like to ask the Noble Lady whether in her election address she stated what she considers to be beneficial employment?
Duchess of ATHOLL
The Government have defined it. I always hoped it meant employment which was of a healthy nature and which would not mean any overworking. I am glad that that is fully safeguarded in Clause 2. I would remind my Noble Friend, who cares so much for the health and welfare of children, that much of value has been added to the Clause in Committee in that respect. The child is not to be allowed to go into employment unless the authority is satisfied that his health is suitable, and there is a condition regarding the duration of the employment. Those two conditions strengthened the Clause in Committee in the interests of the child. I think the word "trivial," 1885 which my Noble Friend used in regard to this matter, when she said that the local authority could give a certificate for a trivial reason, is not really appropriate. It seems to me that Clause 2 will safeguard the employment of children below the age of 15 in a way which I believe will be beneficial in every respect, and which I hope will set an improved standard for the employment of children above that age. Therefore, I hope that my right hon. Friend will not accept this Amendment.
My Noble Friend referred to something that I said in a former speech about small hands being necessary in certain branches of the textile industry, and I believe the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) refused to believe me when I said that a shortage of juvenile labour existed in certain districts in Yorkshire and that machinery stands idle and adults are unemployed as a consequence. I have here the names of firms which have, or recently had, machinery standing idle for that reason, and I am ready to give those names in confidence to any hon. Member who desires to have them. I am told that the names of many more firms could have been secured if there had been time to collect them.
This is a serious matter. Could the Noble Lady inform those firms that we could give them girls over 18 with small hands to do the job?
Duchess of ATHOLL
Those firms know their business well enough to provide small and suitable hands whenever they can.
Duchess of ATHOLL
These children, even at a young age, get very good wages in Yorkshire, and much better than are given in our agricultural districts.
Duchess of ATH0LL
I think the hon. Member endorsed what I said about the shortage of juvenile labour in various districts in Yorkshire, and I was very pleased to have his endorsement, because a good many of his colleagues seemed to doubt the truth of my statement. I would further remind the House that because of the decline in the birth-rate, by 1886 1943 there will be many fewer children of 15 years of age coming out of the schools than there are to-day. The birthrate in 1920 was 101, and those coming out to-day represent only 95 compared with 101, and the number will have fallen to 69 by 1943. I am just as anxious as anybody to see adult labour employed wherever possible, but I do say that in regard to certain processes which require small fingers, there ought to be kept open a loophole, provided it is certain that the children will work under beneficial conditions. Otherwise, we shall be placing a very serious handicap on one of our most important export industries and one which has to meet the competition of the textile industries of other countries. I will conclude by reminding hon. Members that not one of our great commercial competitors in Europe has raised the school-leaving age to 15. Switzerland has raised it in 10 Cantons out of 25. Norway is the only country—
§ 5.24 p.m.
May I ask for your guidance, Sir? This Amendment is of a rather limited character and I would like to know how far we are entitled to discuss the whole question of exemptions on it.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The Amendment is obviously of a very limited character. The point of this Amendment is whether the child shall have a right to exemption, unless the local authorities object, or whether the process shall be the opposite way round. I do not think that on this Amendment we can go into the entire question of whether or not exemptions are beneficial.
§ Mr. COVE
Shall we be allowed to reply to some of the statements that have been made? The Debate has now proceeded for some time, and I am very anxious to make a statement and to give the Noble Lady the Member for Kinross and Western Perth (Duchess of Atholl) some recent facts about the matter on which she has been speaking. I do not think it would be appropriate to do so on the Third Reading since the Debate has proceeded rather far. I hope we may have a limited indulgence to reply to one or two of the statements that have been made.
§ Mr. EDE
Further to the point of Order, may I point out that the Noble Lady the Member for Kinross and Western Perth (Duchess of Atholl) alluded to me personally. I did not interrupt her because I desired to hear her develop what she was pleased to call her argument with regard to the matter. I am not at all sure whether, under your Ruling, I should be allowed to reply to her if I should be so fortunate as to catch the eye of the occupant of the Chair during the discussion. There is a perfectly good answer to her, but I am not sure it arises on this Amendment.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
With regard to the last point of Order, I was unaware that the Noble Lady had referred to the hon. Member. With regard to the remainder, I had better wait until the hon. Members are speaking.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I should not have discussed the matter had it not been for the reference made to it by my Noble Friend. I do not wish to say anything more, except to ask hon. Members to keep some perspective in this matter and, as a background, to remember that none of the great commercial competitors of this country has raised the school-leaving age.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Mr. COVE
We have heard a characteristically reactionary speech from the Noble Lady, a speech which we had anticipated she would give. I am in agreement with her with regard to one of her statements, that there is a shortage of juvenile labour in some industries. As a matter of fact, there may be a shortage of juvenile labour even in the textile industry, but that does not complete the picture or meet the problem. What is happening undoubtedly is that while children are being absorbed into industry immediately they leave school, it is being done at the expense of their older brothers and their fathers. I would like in this connection to quote from the "Manchester Guardian" of this morning. It is a statement by the President of the United Textile Factory Workers' Association, and it is very germane to the statement which has been made by the Noble Lady. It is as follows:Mr. Robertson said that the past year had brought no relief to workers in the cotton industry. They were still faced with the problem of many thousands of adult 1888 operatives being unable to obtain work, while at the same time there was a real shortage of juvenile labour in the spinning section of the industry. This could only mean that the industry was going through such a difficult period that parents would not put their children into the mills.I want both the Noble Lady and the Minister to face that problem. The fact is that our staple industries have become blind-alley occupations. That is a social fact which the Government will have to take into consideration.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I think the hon. Member is now getting to the point at which I stopped the Noble Lady. We cannot go into all those questions on this Amendment.
§ Mr. COVE
I only wish to follow up what has already been said. The Debate having proceeded so far, I had hoped for a chance to reply to the Noble Lady. Let me say, briefly, that the problem is not only a problem of the distributive trades. We know that there is a tragic problem in connection with the distributive trades, but there is also a tragic problem in connection with the textile industry, the coal industry and many other large industries. In this Bill there is a right to exemption, and the vast majority of those who get exemptions will go into blind-a11ey occupations, whether they go into the staple industries or into the distributive trades. If this is an Education Bill, why retain in it this right to put children into blind-alley occupations? Why not make it a real Education Bill and give the local authorities power to deal with the situation? As the provisions of the Bi11 stand, the local authorities will be at the mercy of a combination of employers and parents. The parents in great numbers will want their children to go to work simply because of the stress of poverty and economic conditions in the home. But is it for the State to say that the child ought to go to work, having regard to the terrible condition of unemployment existing in these industries?
As regards the distributive trades, I would recommend to hon. Members the fine analysis which has been made by Mr. Hiscock. Here is one striking fact. Only 8 per cent. of those who enter the distributive trades in their youth are found there at 45 years of age. As you ascend the age scale in these occupations, 1889 you find growing unemployment. There is no security and old age—even middle age—for these people in the distributive trades, is fraught with the certain tragedy of unemployment.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
Even if the facts stated by the hon. Member are correct, and I am not trying to dispute them, I fail to see how the Amendment before us would affect the matter in the least.
§ Mr. COVE
I only wish to point out that in the Bill there is a right for the child to leave school for what is euphemistically called "beneficial employment." I say that means the certainty, in the vast majority of cases, of those children going into occupations where there is no security and, therefore, I ask why should we not put the emphasis on the local authority as this Amendment proposes? As it is, you will have a combination between parents and employers to get the children out of the school. The employers want cheap labour and the parents want the money at home. But should not this House and the Government in the present year of grace, say that these children ought to be kept in school, and give the local authorities power to keep them in school? There ought not to be within the Bill this right enabling children to go into blind-alley occupations.
I am sorry that under your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I cannot follow the Noble Lady into further detail on this question, but there is no doubt that the educational side of the Bill is but a shadow. There is no substance in it and the curious thing is that the more prosperous we are as a nation and the more work is available, the less substance there will be in the Bill. The better the nation can afford to keep the children at school the more demand there will be for the labour. I am not saying anything about the other part of the Bill, but as regards the first part of the Bill, it is not an Education Bill. The education authorities will be unable to make provision for the children who may be retained. If this Amendment were carried the local authorities would be better able to plan ahead. As it is how are they to know how many children will be in the schools at the end of three years? What provision can they make to ensure that when the Bill comes into operation three 1890 years hence, the necessary arrangements will be available? If the local authorities have control of the whole thing you would get better educational administration and there will be, at least, some substance in the educational provisions of the Measure.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Mr. MARKHAM
I rise to support the Amendment and I have been rather driven to do so by the attitude of the Noble Lady the Member for Western Perth and Kinross (Duchess of Atholl). She had the audacity to remind us of our Election pledges and it is on that point that I join issue with her. I certainly was under the impression, and I think most Members on this side of the House were under the same impression, that in the Government's manifesto on this subject, the pledge which we gave was that the school-leaving age should be raised to 15 and that such exemptions as were to be permitted would be exceptions and not the rule.
I do not wish to interrupt the hon. Member but he has chosen, as a supporter of the Government, to get up from a Government Bench and make that statement. Let me say at once that it is entirely untrue, and that before he makes his speech he ought to refresh his memory by reading extracts, both from the statement of Government policy and the manifesto on educational policy which accompanied it.
§ Mr. MARKHAM
I join issue with the Minister on this point. Do I understand the Minister to say that it was the deliberate intention of the Government that this House should pass a Bill under which exemptions were to be the rule and not the exception?
If, as I say, the hon. Member will refresh his mind by reading the education manifesto, he will see that it contains clearly the statement already referred to, as to the right to exemption for beneficial employment under the age of 15.
But was not the first point that we were to raise the school age? The other came afterwards.
§ Mr. MARKHAM
The Minister knows perfectly well that I have been a loyal supporter of this Government and he has no right to turn round and accuse me of 1891 disloyalty on this point. I am honest and sincere in this matter, and my whole intention in fighting at the last. election on the side of the Government was to support the reforms which I believed the National Government had planned, and this was one of them. There was the definite statement that the school age was to be raised to 15. That was point No. 1. Point No. 2 was that there might be exemptions in exceptional cases. [HON. MEMBERS. "No!"] That is the issue and I say, frankly, that if the Minister drives us to a decision on that issue I am on the opposite side on this question. Let there be no mistake about it. I put sincerity and honesty on major questions like this before everything else.
Let us get at the root of the Amendment, of which I am in favour. As I see it, no exemptions can be secured unless about six separate sets of conditions are fufilled by the employer. He has to satisfy the local education authority or the issuing authority that he has fulfilled those conditions. What I am not satisfied about in my own mind is the issuing authority. The Noble Lady the Member for Western Perth and Kinross knows full well that the majority of county councils in this country are full of people with mentalities like her own, who are willing to drive children into industry instead of giving them education. It is at this precise point that we differ. I wish to make perfectly certain that the children of this country shall be protected against people like the Noble Lady, and for that reason I support the Amendment. It is a minute, indeed infinitesimal Amendment, as regards the wording, but in implication and emphasis it is of first-class importance. I support it because when I stood for South Nottingham at the election I was resolutely determined to get the school age raised to 15, with few exceptions, and those only in exceptional cases. If, as I say, the Minister forces us to an issue on this question, instead of acting reasonably and accepting the Amendment, he will drive us into the Opposition Lobby.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. EDE
We have now the usual spectacle of the Government's supporters telling the Government exactly what they ought. to do, but I have never yet 1892 in this Parliament heard a Minister turn round and deal quite so emphatically with one of his supposed supporters. I hope it does not mean that there is any drastic punishment in store for the hon. Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Markham) but it gives us a very good example of what the unsuspecting National Labour party were led into at the last General Election when they pinned their faith to the Tory party's interpretation of their own manifesto. May I deal with the question raised by the Noble Lady the Member for Western Perth and Kinross (Duchess of Atholl). I am sure she realises I did not interrupt her at the time because I thought it would be better to wait until I could make a connected reply to her statement. I am not impressed by the statement that certain millowners in Yorkshire say that there is a shortage of juvenile labour.
Duchess of ATHOLL
Did not the hon. Member receive a letter early in April, in which I gave him evidence and the names of firms? He did not acknowledge the letter.
§ Mr. EDE
The Noble Lady did send me a letter and gave me the names of certain firms. It is no part of my job to recruit juvenile labour for mill owners, but I cannot help feeling, in view of the desire of the Ministry of Labour to transfer juveniles from the distressed areas, that juvenile unemployment—
§ Mr. EDE
That is part of the difficulty. The Noble Lady makes the insinuation that I did not accept her word for some reason. I want to assure here that I did not doubt her word or her statement as to what the millowners said. But my view is that there is good reason for suspecting that the millowners are not stating the whole truth in what they say 1893 to the Noble Lady. However, I wish to deal with the actual wording of the Amendment. The Bill does two things only. It imposes a duty and confers a power on local authorities. It imposes a duty under this Sub-section on local authorities to grant certificates. The governing words of the Sub-section are, "an employment certificate shall be granted" by the local authority. There is, of course, the power to aid voluntary schools later in the Bill. Any local authority reading this Sub-section is bound to have regard to the emphatic nature of these opening words, and the Minister was quite emphatic upstairs in regard to them.
The way in which he smiled at the hon. Baronet the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) who alluded to the fact that these were two very small words, showed that he remains of the same view and that the interpretation which I have placed upon his view is the correct one. What we desire is—and it was a point taken by the hon. Member for South Nottingham—that the duty should be on the local authority to retain children in school unless it is satisfied with the conditions. The whole question of the administration of this Bill is involved in the change of these two small words of two letters each. I have no doubt that many of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, who recollect the bands of hope of the nineties of last century, will remember the hymn that we sang with great gusto:'No' is a very little word,In one short breath we say it.The chorus of that hymn was:Have courage, my boy, to say 'no.'We have not so far instilled that courage into the Minister. He is like the man who never has the courage to say "no" when he ought to. On the other hand, he says "no" on every occasion when he ought to say "yes" We know that the right hon. Gentleman sincerely desires that this Bill shall be a success. He has shown in the reply he made to the new Clause moved by the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. H. Macmillan) that he desires that a good example shall be set to the country in the matter and that, as far as possible, employers shall be encouraged not to make applications for these certificates. There is, however, one thing I venture to suggest to him 1894 that he can do without breaking any election pledges. He can make it easier for the local authorities to resist those applications which are on the border-line, and it is just that kind of point which is raised by the wording of this Sub-section.
If the right hon. Gentleman would give us the wording for Which we ask it would enable the local authorities still to give exemptions in those cases where it was fully proved, but, in the cases where there was an element of doubt, the alteration of the wording would swing the opinion of the committee deliberating on the matter over to the direction of retaining the child in school. It is because I am seriously concerned about the administration of the Bill, which will not be so much in the Minister's hands as he imagines, but will be in the hands of sub-committees meeting in remote places and very often scrutinising the exact wording to see whether they can get any guidance from it, that I should be very reluctant to see the Bill go out with the words, "an employment certificate shall be granted" as the governing words of the Sub-section.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. RADFORD
This Amendment has suffered severely at the hands of its supporters because of the excesses to which they have gone in supporting it. To listen to the speech of the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove), for instance, one would think that the Clause simply provided that there was a bounden duty on local authorities to grant exemption certificates if they are demanded. That was the tone also of the speech of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). The hon. Member for Aberavon said that in view of the reluctance of parents to put their children into the big basic industries, it would mean that they would find their way into blind-alley occupations. I feel that some of the hon. Members who have spoken cannot have read the wording of the Clause. It says:An employment certificate shall be granted to the intended employer of the child, if the issuing authority are satisfied, after consultation. with the local committee for juvenile employment, if any, and after consideration of the health and physical condition of the child, that the employment will be beneficial to the child.Then it goes on to say:The issuing authority in determining whether any employment will be beneficial 1895 shall have regard as well to the prospective as to the immediate benefit to the child, and in particular to—
- (a) the nature and probable duration of the employment, the wages to be paid, and the hours of work;
- (b) the opportunities to be afforded to the child for further education;
- (c) the time available to the child for recreation; and
- (d) the value, in relation to the future career of the child, of any training or other advantages afforded by the employment."
§ Mr. RADFORD
The meaning of Clauses in some of our Bills is obscure, but in this case it seems to be unusually clear. I am of opinion that the wholesale putting of children into blind-alley occupations is amply safeguarded against by the wording of the Clause, unless, of course, local authorities grossly fail in their duties, which I do not think they will. Some hon. Members have referred to themselves as protectors of the children. If I had known of anyone who was taking care to keep me at school a year longer than I ought to stop, I should not have regarded him as my protector. I left at 15 and I would have left at 13 if I had not been prevented by my father, I would say, particularly for the benefit of the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor), that there is a form of education which children can pick up after they have left school that may well be more valuable to them than merely poring over lessons. So far as their being over-worked.—
The hon. Gentleman speaks about leaving school at 13 and of having to stay until 15. May I ask him whether he regrets it?
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Mr. KELLY
I hope that even at this stage the Minister will reconsider his refusal to accept tin Amendment. Those who will have to administer this Measure, particularly in large places like London, where there is a demand for so many juveniles in employment, must realise the difficulty there will he to a body like the Education Committee of the London County Council in having to deal with the many claims for exemption which are likely to be made. We should lay stress on the fact that no employment certificate should be granted unless certain conditions are fulfilled. The Bill, however, places the emphasis on the granting of the certificate rather than on giving consideration to the various conditions. We have heard much as to the reasons why the Amendment should be rejected. I am not prepared to accept, as I said in Committee, what the Noble Lady said with regard to machinery standing idle in Lancashire or Yorkshire as the result of juveniles not being in employment.
§ Mr. KELLY
Those who are dealing with these places and industries have no knowledge whatever of machinery being idle because of children not being taken into employment. To leave this Bill in such a way that exemption is stressed rather than the raising of the age to 15 will not carry out what the people of the country expected. The hon. Member who last spoke reminded us that he would not as a boy have looked upon those who kept hire at school as protectors. I lived for many years in the same city from which he comes and I have heard many individuals there who asked you to look at certain people because they had left school at such an early age and had made themselves into prosperous merchant princes. Some of them would even suggest to-day that we might have the age much lower. The 1897 hon. Member might not look upon those who kept him at school as protectors, but many of us have been working for the children for many years, not as a virtue, but rather as a duty, because we expect that if children have a better chance of remaining at school for a further period they will be better able to take their place in life when they grow to manhood and womanhood.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Sir J. WITHERS
As a whole-hearted objector to any exemptions at all, I support the Amendment in spirit. I am sorry to say, however, that I feel bound not to vote on that line. I have looked into the matter carefully and I find that the Government undoubtedly came in with a definite pledge that there should be rights of exemption. That being so, and as I am not going to turn my back to Government pledges, I am bound with great regret to have to vote against the Amendment.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ Mr. BELLENGER
There was an occasion not long ago when the hon. Member for Rusholme (Mr. Radford) moved a Motion asking the House to approve of the abolition of homework for school children. As a result, he got a reputation as an educational reformer, but, after listening to his speech to-day, I must say that he got that reputation somewhat under false pretences. We are not concerned with the squabbles which take place between supporters of the Government and the Government. I am afraid they are too frequent these days. What the hon. Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Markham) said to the Minister to-day indicates what was in that hon. Member's mind when he went to the electors to ask them to vote for him. The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Sir J. Withers) has told us that he is in sympathy with this Amendment, but that he will not support it in the Division Lobby. What are we to understand from that? I take it that he is as sincere as most of us are in our endeavours to raise the school-leaving age. This Amendment is put forward with the object of really inducing the Government to make the school-leaving age 15, yet the hon. Member for Cambridge University says that he cannot support it in the Division Lobby.
1898 I hope that those hon. Members who have spoken from the other side of the House, including the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) will go into the Division Lobby against the Government if the Government will not accept the Amendment. The whole test of the sincerity of the Government on the question of raising the school-leaving age to 15 is embodied in this Amendment. The Government know, I might almost say by the unanimous verdict of education authorities all over the country, that the country does want the school-leaving age raised to 15.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must remember that this Amendment does not do away with exemptions altogether, and that he cannot go into the whole question of the school-leaving age.
§ Mr. BELLENGER
Yes, Sir, but I understand that if this Amendment is accepted it will mean that exemptions will become the exception rather than the rule, and that is the point to which I am addressing my remarks. It is for that reason that I am asking the Noble Lady and other speakers who have supported the Amendment to go into the Lobby against the Government.
§ Mr. BELLENGER
I am bound, of course, to accept your Ruling, but what I do say is that the Clause as it stands will not raise the school-leaving age to 15, and that is what we and the country understood the Government to promise both in their election manifesto and in their speeches elsewhere.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. CROSSLEY
As I understand it, the effect of this Amendment, if passed, would be to enable a particular local authority to decide to grant no exemptions at all in its area.—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—and if that is the case surely it is directly contrary to the manifesto of the. Government. Whenever we invoke that manifesto hon. Members opposite seem to think we are doing something very retrograde. When I supported that manifesto it did not occur to me that I was adopting any retrograde policy. I was working for what I believed was a dovetailing system between work and education, which I felt was desirable, and I 1899 should have thought that hon. Members opposite would regard the local authorities as suitable people to deal with the question. I have seen juvenile employment committees at their work and they have done it extremely well. No hon. Member opposite can say that those committees have not an extremely good idea of who are good employers in a town and who are not, and in any case the Bill lays down perfectly clear conditions for their guidance. The last condition, in particular, says that they must have regard to:The value, in relation to the future career of the child, of any training or other advantages afforded by the employment.The charge will be laid at the door of any local authority which lets a child go into a blind-alley employment, and I think that the future of the child is amply safeguarded in any district where a local authority does its duty properly. I have more faith in the local authorities than hon. Members opposite and I believe that they do intend, in this sphere, to do their job properly.
Has the hon. Member looked into the areas where the school-leaving age has been raised and noticed what an enormous percentage of the exemptions have been given for children to go as vanboys, messengers, and the rest of it? Look at Plymouth. Look at Bath.
§ 6.7 p.m.
I hope that I may intervene in this Debate for a moment, I am afraid with the object of bringing it back from some of the interesting paths we have traversed to the Amendment which my hon. Friend moved a considerable time ago. The growth of the Amendment since then must have astonished its author. I am in a different position from many hon. Members, because on Third Reading, unfortunately, I am bound to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, and therefore I do not propose on this Amendment to anticipate the arguments I shall have to meet and the remarks I shall have to make on the Third Reading, though I am amply prepared to meet those who have criticised the Bill both on its educational merits and the practicability of its machinery. I am not sure that the House has fully realised the meaning of the Amendment 1900 we are discussing. The hon. Member who moved it and the hon. Baronet who seconded it indulged in masterpieces of understatement. They represented it as effecting a mere shifting of emphasis, that whereas under the Bill as drafted the emphasis was rather on the granting of exemptions, under the Amendment it would be more on the refusal of exemptions. If that were all that was in the Amendment, if it made no greater alteration in principle than that, if it were only a direction, as the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), inferred to the local authorities, perhaps there would be no great exception to it. But, whether it is so intended or not, the Amendment would go far beyond that point.
If the Amendment were accepted it would be possible for any local authority to pass a resolution to say, "We will not grant any exemptions to any child under any circumstances." It would do away entirely with the provisions of the Bill, do away with the individual investigations into the suitability of a particular child for a particular job, and, in fact, allow the local authority in a particular area to decide for themselves in one way a question which Parliament has decided for the country as a whole in another way. I know that many arguments can be advanced against the system of exemptions, and those arguments I shall deal with on the Third Reading to-morrow, but I think hon. Members will agree that if we are to abolish exemptions it should be done by the decision of the House of Commons for the country as a whole, and not by the decision of one local authority for one particular area.
I hope I did not display unnecessary heat in dealing with the hon. Member behind me. I have no concern, of course, with what he said during his election, or with his own views upon this particular Amendment, but what I did resent was—what perhaps he did not mean to say—the idea that the Government, in introducing the Bill, were being false to their election pledges. I am not going to read the Government's manifesto, hon. Members may agree with it or not, but no one can challenge the fact that we are carrying out exactly what we promised then to do; and, also, there is no doubt that to accept this Amendment would not be merely to shift slightly the emphasis, as the Mover and Seconder 1901 said, but would be to destroy the right of the parent to choose whether his child should take beneficial employment when the character of the employment had been determined, or whether it should remain at school, and it would give a local authority power by resolution to dispense entirely with applications in individual cases and to abolish exemptions altogether in its area. For that reason I am unable to accept the Amendment.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Mr. ERNEST EVANS
I think the President of the Board of Education has made a point in replying to this Amendment which, in one sense, disposes of a good many of the arguments which have been used in support of it, but what surprises me a little is that the Noble Lord has said—
§ Mr. EVANS
I should be very sorry to promote the right hon. Member. I am not one of those who has taken any obstructive attitude towards this Bill. I voted for the Second Reading on different grounds from many of my hon. Friends who sit around me, and I did that for a special purpose and a special reason. I am not going to deal with the rather heated interlude between the right hon. Gentleman and one of his supporters behind him as to the precise effect of the manifesto at the General Election, but my attitude to this Bill on Second Reading was dictated by the fact that I thought the Bill was capable in Committee of being amended in a, direction which I believe is in accordance with this Amendment. What is the real object of the Bill? Is it to raise the school-leaving age? If that is the main object the Clause, as it stands, is designed to defeat that object. I thought that if in Committee an Amendment of this character were accepted, while the main object of the Bill would be to raise the school-leaving age the giving of permission to particular children to leave school before the age of 15 would be the exceptional thing and not the ordinary thing. As the Clause stands the issue of an employment certificate, which is to be granted in certain events, will become the normal thing, and the purpose of the Amendment is to transfer the bias, to shift the onus, from one side to the other.
1902 Some hon. Members opposite have suggested that that is a small thing, but with due respect I do not think it is. I think it goes to the very root of the purposes of the Bill, and gives a clear indication as to the hopes of those who are responsible for it. Do they want it to be a real success in the educational sense of raising the school age to 15, or not If they do, let them put the onus of granting exemptions opposite to what it is now. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman himself adopted this argument, but some speakers on the other side did, and they said it made little difference. Speaking with some knowledge, acquired from an examination of the way in which various local authorities work, I venture to say that it makes a lot of difference.
I have no doubt that many local authorities will be anxious to make this Bill effective from the educational point of view, but others will take a different standpoint, and their object will be not to make it an effective educational advance but to look out for means of securing exemptions and exceptions. If you say to a local education authority "A certificate can be granted, if," it means one thing to that type of authority, but if you say "No authority can, unless," you are putting upon them the burden of inquiry and, if they do their work honestly and conscientiously, the burden of satisfying themselves that in each case conditions have been established which entitle them to go outside what is conceived to be the purpose of this Bill. While you have ruled, Mr. Speaker, and Mr. Deputy-Speaker ruled before you came in, that in one sense this Amendment is very limited in character, it seems to raise a very great and important principle, and the attitude of the Government towards that principle will decide my attitude upon the Third Reading.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Before this Debate proceeds any further, I find, after having listened to the discussion, that I am placed in a difficulty. When I read the Amendment first, it did not appear very important, as it was putting the onus upon one authority instead of upon another. From hon. Members' speeches I find that the main object of the Amendment is to diminish exemptions, and in that case the Amendment would be out 1903 of order because it would create a charge. As that appears to be the attitude of hon. Members, I must rule that the Amendment is out of order.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
The character of the Bill leaves the question of exemptions elastic and it is hardly possible to suggest that it would or would not impose a charge. I suggest that the Amendment does not transgress your Ruling.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
In selecting this Amendment I was not aware that its object was to diminish the number of exemptions, which would therefore increase the amount upon the rates.
§ Mr. E. J. WILLIAMS
May I put it to you, Sir, that this would not increase the charge, and that it would probably lessen the charge, because the staffing arrangements of the schools will be a vital factor in this matter? If the Amendment were carried, it would mean a larger number of pupils in proportion to the staff. That is vitally important.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
I beg to move, in page 2, line 24, to leave out "the intended employer of."
As the Bill is worded, it introduces a new principle to our education legislation. In giving exemptions and deciding the future of children, the only consideration, so far, has been the well-being of the children, in consultation with the wishes and desires of the parents. Now, for some reason or other, the right hon. Gentleman is putting the employer in the position that he has to come to a local education authority and ask for the services of a particular child. I suggest that that is a very undesirable principle to introduce into our education legislation. We are setting up a very elaborate machine and putting upon the 1904 local authority the responsibility of deciding whether a child shall have exemption or not. What should be decisive should be, not the interests of the industry, the employer or the manufacturer, but the interests of the child in consultation with the parents. It is vital that the parent or guardian should be brought into the matter. It is unfair to put upon a small child of 14, who is naturally desirous of seeking adventure and new experience, and of cutting his connection with school, the responsibility entirely in this matter. I emphatically object to the employer being brought into it.
It is not in the interests of the employer to put upon him the responsibility of trying to lead a child away from school. He has to go cap in hand to the advisory committee, or the local education authority, and ask for the services, or the use, of a particular child. The Amendment would work for the most effective operation of the exemption Clause, and tend to prevent a child going into undesirable channels of occupation. At the same time, it would enable the authority of the parents over the child to be exerted. When exemptions are given, it would be after consultation with the parent, and the well-being of the child would be the main consideration.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ Sir F. ACLAND
I beg to second the Amendment.
I am bound to say that, in view of your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, the Amendment is very likely to impose a charge upon the rating authorities. The Bill will be worked very largely through sub-committees who will, I fear—and everybody knows it—be influenced where applications are made by employers whom they know and respect and whom they will not altogether like to offend. If you put the employer into the Second position, or leave him out, and if exemption has to be applied for in association with the parent or guardian, probably fewer exemptions will be given, and therefore a charge will be created if the Amendment is carried. If we could surmount that difficulty, the point is clear, we want to lay emphasis in these employment certificates upon the action of the parent or guardian on behalf of the child, and not to bring the employer into it, with all 1905 the influence which he may have on the sub-committees which will do the work.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
As Pas been stated by the right hon. Gentleman who has seconded the Amendment, the Amendment is very much like the previous one. If it was put down merely to diminish the number of exemptions, as was the previous Amendment, 't would be out of order.
§ Sir F. ACLAND
Having listened to your Ruling, I feel bound to point out how extraordinarily difficult it is to amend this part of the Bill in any way whatever.
§ 6.26 p.m.
I hope, Mr. Speaker, that you will allow us to discuss this Amendment. The right hon. Baronet rather went out of his way to say that it might increase the charge upon the rates, but for most of us this is an Amendment of machinery which could not possibly have that effect.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is exactly the reason why I allowed it in the first instance. I thought it was a matter of machinery.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Mr. DENMAN
I hope that the hon. Baronet will not press the Amendment, because it seems to take away from the Bill one of the only safeguards that employment will be beneficial. The principle of the scheme is that an employment certificate shall be granted to an employer and that the certificate shall be hedged about with conditions. The local authority, in considering whether the employment is beneficial, can take into account all sorts of facts in relation to that employment. They may then state the conditions of the employment upon the certificate, and if they are not satisfied that the conditions are being observed they may withdraw the certificate. If the employer never has to secure a certificate there will be no effective control of him, and the chance of the word "beneficial" being effective is very much reduced.
§ 6.29 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I agree with what has just been said. There is no question that, if the employer has nothing to do with the certificate, the local authority has no hold over him. The local authority will be in a far better position to ask questions than will the parents, and they have much more knowledge of general industrial conditions. It seems to me that the certificate would be practically worthless if it were given only to the child or to the parent. Nobody wishes to destroy the influence of the parent over the child, but in a matter of this kind the local authority are much better able to drive a good bargain with an employer on behalf of a child.
§ 6.30 p.m.
I do not quite understand, even now, the purpose of the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment. I quite appreciate that what we have to consider are the wishes of the parents, and not of the employer, but the words which it is sought to leave out have nothing to do with consulting the employer; they do not refer to an application; they simply say that the certificate shall be granted to the employer. The hon. Baronet will realise that it is the employer who has to undertake the conditions upon which the exemption is granted, and he has to be responsible for the observance of the terms. First of all, he has to tell the authorities the terms that he is prepared to observe, and it seems to me that the obvious person to whom the certificate setting out the terms of employment should be handed is the person who is bound by those terms, and on whom the penalty will fall if they are not observed. Therefore, I think that the words which the hon. Baronet proposes to leave out are really an indispensable piece of machinery, without which it would be almost impossible to safeguard the conditions of the employment.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
If the employer holds the certificate, he holds a certain power over the boy should he happen to fall foul of him in his employment. It is no use the Minister shaking his head; I know from personal experience that these are powers that can be used by the employer of labour over the boy, as I have seen time and again, in cases of quite trivial misconduct or anything else. In 1907 legislating in this House we have to remember that we have always to legislate in our mind's eye for the bad employer of labour. Some hon. Members are always trying to show that employers are absolutely all right, that everything can be left to them, that they are very nice and generous, and so on. It is not true—
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
We have to legislate to protect the working-class boy from the bad employer of labour, and I am afraid that to hand this certificate to the employer of labour will be to hand away a certain amount of power over the poor boy—because it must not be forgotten that it is the poor boys that we are dealing with here, not the sons of the rich, but the sons of those who have nobody to take their part. This power over the poor child is being given into the hands of the employer, so that he will not only hold the weapon of starvation, but also the weapon of this certificate. I would ask the Minister whether he has considered the matter from that point of view.
§ 6.34 p.m.
I have. My attention has been called to the fact that it was rather fully debated in the Scottish Standing Committee, and these fears were expressed there. I have gone into the matter very carefully, and am satisfied that there is no ground for these fears at all. This certificate gives the employer no hold over the child whatsoever. If a child is employed by one employer, and does not like the job, he can make application to the local authority for exemption for another job. Even if the employer does not hold the certificate itself, he must have a copy of it, because he is bound by its terms, but I cannot see that the possession of the certificate by the employer could give him any power whatsoever over the boy.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
Supposing that the boy is dismissed, will he have to find some other employer to apply for exemption, or will the exemption certificate automatically remain in force?
If the boy is dismissed, it will be the duty of the employer to return the certificate to the authority, 1908 and it will be cancelled. The boy will then be in the position of having to find a job. Until he gets a job, he has to go back to school.
§ Mr. R. J. TAYLOR
What would happen if the boy had not been dismissed, but if, on account of disagreement between him and the employer, he desired to leave and go to work for another employer? Would the new employer make application to the late employer, or to the local authority?
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 6.36 p.m.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, after "satisfied," to insert:that the parent of the child desires the employment for the, child and are also satisfied.The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. Logan) called attention during the Committee stage to the fact that, although obviously we all intended that the parents should have to express their wishes, that was not stated anywhere in the and I promised that I would put down an Amendment to include it. Hon. Members will see that one of the conditions which must be fulfilled before a certificate is granted will now be that the authority must be satisfied that the parent of the child desires the employment for the child. I notice that the hon. Baronet the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) has an Amendment on the Paper which refers to the parents or guardians of the child, but that point is covered by the fact that "parent" is defined in the Education Act, 1921, as covering a guardian, and also, I think, all those who have the control of children.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
We consider that the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman has put down covers the point raised by the hon Member for Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. Logan).
§ Sir P. HARRIS
It was because I had seen this Amendment of the Minister that I did not move my earlier Amendment—in page 2, line 26, after "child," to insert "in association with the parents or guardians of such child." I think 1909 that the insertion of the words proposed by the Minister will substantially improve the Bill, and will give some protection against exploitation of the child.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ Mr. KELLY
I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, to leave out "after consultation with," and to insert "and."
This Amendment and the next Amendment standing in my name—in page 2, line 27, after "any," to insert "are satisfied "—are inter-dependent, and, if agreed to, they would make Sub-section (2) of the Clause read as follows:An employment certificate shall be granted to the intended employer of the child, if the issuing authority are satisfied that the parent of the child desires the employment for the child and are also satisfied, and the local committee for juvenile employment, if any, are satisfied, and after consideration of the health and physical condition of the child, that the employment will be beneficial to the child.The object is that the education committee, in dealing with this matter, may have the opportunity of stressing the educational side of the child's position rather than the industrial or employment side. If there must be consultation with the local committee for juvenile employment before the decision is arrived at, it will take a considerable time. I can imagine what is likely to happen in London, with its great central committees, its 20 or more other committees, and the London County Council Education Committee, endeavouring to deal with these matters, if it is necessary first to consult the local committees for juvenile employment. In my view the local authority dealing with the school should be the authority to deal with the question of exemption. The insertion of the words "are satisfied" would simply mean that, if that body are satisfied, they may give the exemption with the conditions attached to it. I am sorry that we should have to give these exemptions, but, although I am an officer of the largest juvenile employment committee in the country, I still feel that the education authority ought not to wait, even for those of us who are concerned with these children in their first placing, until they decide on their position.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
Would this be a convenient opportunity for the Minister to give some explanation of the way in which he foresees that this machinery is going to work? At present the juvenile employment committees in many areas are playing a very active part in finding the right jobs for the right children, so active that they are even holding up jobs from certain children in order to keep them ready for children whom they consider to be more suitable. That is done quite simply under the ordinary machinery, before the children leave school automatically, but here there will be a considerable number of children who are, so to speak, going to find jobs for themselves, and the local juvenile employment committees will at the most only play a passive part. Taking the case of the child who desires exemption, is there anything to ensure that the local juvenile employment committee shall still play the active part in finding for that child the right job that they play now in the case of the child leaving in the ordinary way? That is the problem that is raised. by this Amendment. I would call the attention of the President to the fact that, at the end of the discussion in Committee, he said:I am prepared between now and the Report stage, to consult, as I shall no doubt have to do on several machinery points, with local authorities, to find out what their point of view is and to meet it where possible."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, (Standing Committee A), 26th March, 1936, Col. 100.]
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
No; it was on an Amendment dealing with the position of juvenile employment committees. In any case it is not important whether the right hon. Gentleman made a certain statement in Committee or not. Apart from that, I would ask him to make an explanation of the way in which he foresees that this machinery will work.
§ 6.45 p.m.
Before I respond to the right hon. Gentleman's invitation, I might perhaps deal with the actual Amendment. I did not quite understand what the purpose was, nor does the hon. Member, I think, quite appreciate what the effect of his wording would be. It would be, instead of having one authority 1911 whose decision on the question of exemptions would be final, to create two authorities both of whom would have to agree if the exemption were to be granted. The result would be that, if the local authority desired to grant the exemption but one of its own committees in an area where the local authority was responsible for juvenile employment did not want to grant it, there would be a conflict between the two and the exemption would not be granted. Equally there would be conflict between the local education authority and the juvenile unemployment committee. I am sure that cannot be the hon. Member's intention. I am sure he would wish that the final decision must rest with the responsible elected body. I could not possibly accept the Amendment.
With regard to the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman, it had escaped my mind, but I do not think he is quite correct when he says that it has anything to do with this. It was on a point raised by the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) with regard to an employer sending in a number of applications. As a matter of fact I consulted the London County Council and I found they were not afraid of the situation that the hon. Member thought would arise, and they did not feel the necessity for that Amendment. I should not like him to think that I promised to make inquiries which I did not subsequently make. With regard to this point, all these matters of machinery have to be settled in consultation with various local authorities. The organ of the local authorities in a recent issue encourages them, whatever their opposition might have been to the principles of the Bill, to co-operate, as they have always done, with the central authority afterwards in working it.
I should not like to tie myself down to details as to how this is going to work before I consulted the local authorities, but I do not anticipate a very great amount of difficulty. To start with, not a very large proportion of school leavers are placed through the juvenile employment committee. I do not see that it is at all impossible, in areas where a juvenile employment committee has been doing a good deal of placing work, for them to continue keeping the child at school even though the child is anxious 1912 to leave at some other time than the end of the school year. There are very strict provisions in regard to leaving during the school term, but there is nothing to prevent a child saying, "I shall want to leave at the end of this term," and being put in touch with the juvenile employment committee during the term with a view to being put into a suitable job.
With regard to the method in which this consultation is to take place, that again must depend 011 the circumstances of the locality. It seems to me that there are three ways in which it can be done. You might lay down that all the applications for exemption are to go in the first instance to the juvenile employment committee for their remarks, and to be sent on from them to local authorities, or they might be sent to the local authority and then be sent to the juvenile employment committee for their remarks, and come back; or you could have a system by which a member of the juvenile employment committee sat with the local sub-committees who were advising on these exemptions and they would be available for consultation at the time. I can think of other ways in which this consultation could be carried out and I have no doubt that each will he able to fix on the one that suits best their own local conditions and circumstances. I hope I have given the right hon. Gentleman some idea of what I have in my mind, but the Amendment as drafted would be impossible.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Mr. E. J. WILLIAMS
I appreciate that employment for juveniles is found mainly by the headmasters, but I can visualise that we shall perhaps be faced with the same problem as obtains in our secondary schools. A large number of children leave before the four years are actually completed, and I am expecting the same thing to arise when the age limit is 15. I wonder whether the education authority would have the right to consider the educational aspect before granting an exemption, in the case of elementary schools. I think that is vital. The problem confronting us in the secondary schools is the number of teachers that we have in proportion to the diminishing number of pupils. It is called educationally the "upper tops" problem. Unless the education authority. 1913 has prior rights over the juvenile employment authority, they may so denude the school of pupils that they will have a substantial residue of staff. I wonder whether the emphasis will be placed on the education committee rather than on the juvenile employment authority.
I do not think it has very much to do with this Amendment, but it is clear that the final decision will rest with the education authority, and they have to exercise their duties as laid down in the Bill. They will have a discretion as to holding up any exemption that they grant until the end of the term.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ Mr. EDE
I beg to move, in page 2, line 27, after "consideration," to insert "by the medical officer."
We have been favoured with the intervention in this purely English Debate of two Scottish Members. I do not know what would happen to me if I went into a Debate on a Scottish Education Bill and offered my advice on the problems that confront them in Scotland, but this Amendment is brought forward because on the Scottish Bill a similar Amendment was moved by the hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Garro Jones), and the Minister left it to the discretion of the Committee, which added the Amendment to the Bill, making it a requirement that this consideration of the health and physical well-being of the child should be undertaken by the medical officer. If we leave the words as vague as they are in the Bill, it would be possible for the consideration to be purely perfunctory. We discussed at some length this question of considering the suitability of the child's physique for the employment and the probable effect of the employment on the health of the child. The words here proposed will make sure that expert evidence will be available for the Committee advising the local authority whenever they have to reach their decision. It is true that the school medical records, and so on, will be available, but they may not be directed to the exact point covered by the specific employment for which the certificate is sought. I hope the Minister will accept the Amendment so that the child may be safeguarded by the Committee having in front of it an expert medical opinion upon 1914 the specific point raised by the application of the employer for a certificate for the particular employment.
§ 6.57 p.m.
I have not had a very long time to consider this Amendment because it appeared on the Paper only this morning, but I understand it has already been discussed in the Scottish Standing Committee and accepted, although I am sure no one would like me to feel that I was tied by a Scottish precedent, just as Scotsmen would never for a minute think they were tied by an English one. I have every sympathy with the hon. Member's genuine desire to see that the medical facts in each case are properly considered, but I could not accept an Amendment which I believe would put upon local authorities a very great administrative burden. In any case it would be unnecessary and would give them no powers that they do not already possess. After all, the medical officer is their servant. Any local authority can tell its medical officer exactly what part he has to take in the consideration of these exemptions. The Amendment would extend to them no powers that they do not already possess.
For the moment I am dealing with powers. I think we have to assume that local authorities are anxious to carry out their duties properly. Anyhow, before we come to the Third Reading hon. Members have to make up their minds on which side of the fence they are. Are local education authorities angels of educational light whose united demand for the abolition of exemptions could only fall on ears which are rendered deaf by the gentleman who dwells in the opposite part of the firmament, or are they people who have no educational aspirations whatever and cannot be trusted to administer the slightest part of the educational machinery without giving everything away to the employers? I do not mind which alternative they adopt, but I hope before the time comes they will, at any rate, have made their decision.
Seriously speaking, I feel that on this question of the health of the children you can trust the local authorities to see that the provisions of the Act are properly and 1915 reasonably worked. The hon. Member, who knows a great deal about administration, will agree that the school medical history as it is now kept, after the recent circular of the board with a view to cooperation with the juvenile employment committee, will in the majority of cases give the authority the information that it requires. In response to that circular the medical history contains specific reference to the suitability of a child for certain categories of employment, and a good many of the questions which the local authority might ask will be covered by existing machinery. In any case where there may be doubt the school medical service is at the service of the authority, and I feel that it may be left there. I do not want to make the technical point, and I am sure it was not the intention of the hon. Member that it should so work out, but the effect of his Amendment would be that in London the
§ senior medical officer would have to inspect every one of he many thousands of school leavers during the year.
I do not pretend to be a lawyer. I am bound to pass on to the House the advice I am given by my advisers, and it is their view that that would be the effect of the Amendment. The burden that would be imposed on the local authority administration is not worth the candle, and under the law as it stands the local authority has all the power necessary to carry out medical inspection.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 121; Noes, 238.1917
|Division No. 205.]||AYES.||[7.5 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Muff, G.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Paling, W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Hardie, G. D.||Parker, H. J. H.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Potts, J|
|Barnes, A. J.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Price, M. P.|
|Barr, J.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Pritt, D N.|
|Bellenger, F.||Hicks, E. G.||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Benson, G.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Unlv's.)|
|Bevan, A.||Holllns, A.||Riley, B.|
|Bromfield, W.||Hopkin, D.||Ritson, J.|
|Brooke, W.||Jagger, J.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Burke, W. A.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Rowson, G.|
|Cape, T.||John, W.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Chater, D.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Shinwell, E.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphllly)||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Compton, J.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Kirby, B. V||Stewar, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Kirkwood, D.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Daggar, G.||Lawson, J. J.||Taylor, R J. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Leach, W.||Thorne, W.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Leonard, W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Ede, J. C.||Leslie, J. R.||Tinker J. J.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Logan, D. G.||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Lunn, W.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Westwood, J.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||McGhee, H. G.||White, H. Graham|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||MacLaren, A.||Whiteley, W.|
|Frankel, D.||Maclean, N.||Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)|
|Gallacher, W.||MacNeilI, Weir, L.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Markiew, E.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Mathers, G.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Maxton, J.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Gibbins, J.||Messer, F.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Mllner, Major J.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Montague, F.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Unlv's.)||Mr. Churleton and Mr. Groves.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddlsbro, W.)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)|
|Acland, Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Albery, I. J.||Aske, Sir R. W.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Assheton, R.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-comdr. P. G.||Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Atholl, Duchess of|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Goodman, Col. A. W.||Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Balniel, Lord||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Petherlok, M.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Pickthorn, K. W, M.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Ayiesbury)||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Grimston, R. V.||Porrltt, R. W.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Radford, E. A.|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Guy, J. C. M.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Hamilton, Sir G. C.||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Hannah, I. C.||Reid, W. Allen (Derby)|
|Brass, Sir W.||Harbord, A.||Rickards, G. W. (Sklpton)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Harvey, G.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbrldge)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Rowlands, G.|
|Bull, B. B.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Ruggles-Brlae, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Burghley, Lord||Herbert, Captain S. (Abbey)||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Holdsworth, H.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Salt, E. W.|
|Butler, R. A.||Hopkinson, A.||Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham)|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Samuel, M. R. A, (Putney)|
|Cary, R. A.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Scott, Lord William|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Selley, H. R.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br.W.)||Hunter, T.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.|
|Channon, H.||Jackson, Sir H.||Simon, Rt, Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||James, Wing-Commander A. W.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st).|
|Christie, J. A.||Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)||Smiles, Lleut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Clarkeh, F. E.||Keeling, E. H.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Somervllle, D. G. (Wlllesden, E.)|
|Cobb, Sir C. S.||Kirkpatrick, W. M.||Southby, Comdr. A. R J.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Spears, Brig. -Gen. E. L.|
|Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk N.)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Spender-Clay, Lt.-CI. Rt. Hn. H. H.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Latham, Sir P.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (Wm'l'd)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff(W'st'r S. G'gs)||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Storey, S.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'burgh, W.)||Leckle, J. A.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Craddock, Sir R. H.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Critchley, A.||Lees-Jones, J.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Leigh, Sir J.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Crooke, J. S.||LennoX-Boyd, A. T. L.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Levy, T.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F,|
|Crossley, A. C.||Lewis, O.||Sutcllfle, H.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Llddall, W. S.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Llewellln, Lleut.-Col. j. J.||Tate, Mavis c.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.||Lloyd, G. W.||Taylor, Vlce-Adm. E. A. (Padd., s.)|
|Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil)||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|De Chair, S. S.||Lovat-F rater, J. A.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Mabane, W. (H[...]ddersfield)||Tltchfield, Marquess of|
|Denville, Alfred||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Touche, G. C.|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Drewe, C.||MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.)||Tryon, Major Ht. Hon. G. C.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Turton, R. H.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Wakefleld, W. W.|
|Dugdale, Major T. L.||McKle, J. H.||Wallace, Captain Euan|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Macmlllan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Ward, Lieut-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Magnay, T.||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)|
|Eales, J. F.||Mannlngham-Buller, Sir M.||Wardlaw- Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Margeeson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Markham, S. F.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Maxwell, S. A.||Wells, S. R.|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Wlckham, Lt.-Cot. E. T. R.|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Emrys-Evan, P. V.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Wllloughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Ersklne Hill, A. G.||Moreing, A. G.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hltchin)|
|Fildes, Sir H.||Morgan, R. H.||Windlor-Cllve, Lleut.-Colonel G.|
|Findlay, Sir E.||Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Fleming, E. L.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Munro, P.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Nail, Sir J.||Wragg, H.|
|Furness, S. N.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G.|
|Ganzonl, Sir J.||Orr-Ewlng, I. L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Dr. Morris-Jones and Captain|
|Gluckstein, L. H.||Peake, O.||Water house.|
|Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Penny, Sir G.|
§ 7.13 p.m.
I have an Amendment on the Order Paper on more or less the same point. Would it be for the convenience of the House if we discussed the 1919 two Amendments together, and took the Divisions separately?
§ Mr. EDE
It is evident from the names that appear to this Amendment that this represents the effort of the "popular front" to improve the Bill. It has an even more distinguished measure of support than appears here because, as the Minister will recollect, the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. A. Somerville) told us that he went to the Committee anxious to secure two Amendments, of which this was the first. It certainly involves no additional charge, but has the effect of making charges that are already imposed by the Bill more effective. As the Bill is drafted, it will be possible for the local authority to grant a certificate from a date which is in the middle of, or in some part of the running of, the school term. Under the existing law no child is exempt from attendance at school except at the end of the term in which it attains the stipulated age. Therefore the Amendment, if carried, by deleting the provision which enables the authority to give the exemption during school term, would make the future administration of the law exactly follow the present administration.
There are many disadvantages in having children leave school during term. I never taught under the existing law, but I was frequently in charge of the top class of an elementary school under the old law when a child could leave school on the day on which it attained the appropriate birthday. There was one classical case where a parent turned up and demanded the release of her child at the end of the morning session, because she declared that he had been born 14 years before at a time prior to the opening of the afternoon session. It was not usually as meticulously sought as that, but there was this very disheartening experience both for the teacher and the class. We would start off perhaps with a class which in these days would be regarded as very much overburdened, and by the end of the term we should be down sometimes to rather less than half the numbers with which we started. While that was disheartening to the teachers, it also had a very disheartening and disconcerting 1920 effect upon the children when they saw one after the other of their comrades leave the class in which they had all started together, and towards the end of the term all their ideas were centred upon how long it would be before they would be with the boys who had left a day or two before.
I recognise that the Minister, by the words which he proposes to introduce, thus proposes to emphasise the point of view he expressed in Committee that there should really be exceptional circumstances. I have never claimed that members of local authorities are angels. I have been a member of one or other local authority, and sometimes of more than one authority for 30 years, and I feel with regard to members of local authorities as the old lady did about the Bible class when she saw the members of the class walking into church in their surplices and remarked, "They looks like angels now, but I knows em." I do not believe that they are either angels or reactionary people any more than other men. They are merely human beings subject to like passions as ourselves, and the more one watches them, the more one realises that, in this personal kind of matter which revolves round the exemption of a particular child, they are subject to very great pressure. It is not confined to one section of the community serving on local authorities. Great pressure is sometimes brought at quite high-class dinner parties on members of local authorities, just as pressure is brought to bear at a trade union meeting or at a lodge meeting of members. I am not sure whether sometimes the class feeling which is exhibited as a result of a dinner party is not even greater.
I am sure that we desire that these exemptions should he decided upon other issues than that. Since 1918 we have gradually managed to impress upon the mind of the community that the end of the term is the appropriate time at which exemption should take place, and it will be a weakening of the whole system which we have been building up, if we allow the slight weakening which the Minister's words would produce. I plead earnestly with him as one who is engaged in administration to make the end of term the period by specific reference in the Bill, as would be the case if my Amendment were carried. There is nothing to 1921 prevent an employer coming in front of the committee and asking that the employment should date from the end of term. If he sees the boy whom he wants, and the boy sees the job he wants, the arrangement can be made during the term, and the date of the certificate can be so arranged as to take effect from the end of term. There would be, in consequence, far less administrative inconvenience and a greater sense of responsibility on the part of the employer in, taking the child, if the formality to be observed were as stated in my Amendment. In the Committee stage there was very genuine pressure from the right hon. Gentleman's own side of the Committee, on educational grounds entirely, that this Amendment should be accepted by him, and I hope that as a result of the consideration which he has been able to give to it between that time and the present, he will have reached a decision that it is possible for him to accept the deletion of the words.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ Sir J. WITHERS
I beg to second the Amendment.
I should have thought that it was obvious to anybody accustomed to classes of any kind that to have children leaving in the middle of school term is naturally very upsetting to the children. It is very upsetting to those who remain and very disturbing to those carrying on the work of the school. I should have thought it was obvious that the best and right thing to do was that these exemptions should take place only at the end of the term.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. ORR-EWING
I entirely sympathise with the expressions of the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) and my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Sir J. Withers), yet I cannot really think that they have examined the words which it is proposed should be inserted in a later Amendment. They must recognise the fact that the work of a class certainly would be interrupted in the event of children leaving in large numbers at unusual times, the usual time, we would all expect, being the end of term. Yet we must equally visualise the possibility of exceptional circumstances arising which would give cause for a child leaving school at the request of an employer who felt that a particular vacancy 1922 which had arisen at a particular moment could be suitably filled by a particular child—and I stress the particularity of the case—at the wish of the parent, and at the urge of the child himself who might see in the appointment a future which would not easily be found in any other job or form of employment. I believe that if the Amendment were accepted in the form in which it has been put before the House, it might work extremely unfairly in the particular case, and I urge upon the Government not to accept the Amendment for fear that it might bring injustice in cases where it is most important that justice should be done. I ask that the Amendment should be rejected, and that the words to be proposed later standing in the name of the President of the Board of Education should be inserted. That would seem to be a better way of solving the difficulty arising in particular cases.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Mr. MARKHAM
The question which the House has to consider is which of these two Amendments better fits the intention of the House. Obviously before we can come to a decision some explanation is needed from the Minister, and particularly we should welcome an explanation of the term "owing to exceptional circumstances." If, as I hope, that phrase means that an exemption will be given only where, for example, the breadwinner has died, and it is more or less imperative for the child to go out and supplement the family income, I can perhaps understand the meaning of the Amendment, but if the second Amendment in the name of the Minister has the intention of meaning that exemption shall be granted in the exceptional circumstances of an industry suddenly requiring the influx of juvenile labour, then obviously one is very much against it, and would much prefer the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). From the educational point of view there is every conceivable argument in favour of keeping the child at school to the end of the existing term, and to that extent one agrees with the first Amendment, but if that Amendment in its terms prohibits a child from leaving school and taking up a position in the event of the death of the breadwinner, then obviously the second Amendment in the name of the 1923 Minister would be preferable. I hope that the Minister will give a full explanation of what he means by "owing to exceptional circumstances."
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. CROWDER
In my opinion we should not lay down hard and fast rules in this Bill, but should make the Bill permissive and leave the matter to the local authorities to decide. The Clause has already been amended in Committee. As originally drafted, it gave the local education authorities power to hold up exemptions until the end of the term if they so wished, but it now reads that the local education authorities are bound to hold up exemptions until the end of the term except in cases when, in their opinion, it is advisable that the child should take a good job which is offered to him or her during the term. I understand that the President of the Board of Education has promised to consider putting machinery into operation which will still further safeguard the power of the local authorities to stop any sort of wholesale exemptions during the term, and the only reason he has not accepted the Amendment is that, in his opinion, the exemptions given during the term should be very few in number.
We have heard eloquent speeches from hon. Members who know much more about education than I do, and I quite understand that, from the teacher's point of view, it would be better to have no child leaving during the term. It would also be easier for the local education officer who is dealing with the whole district, but it seems unfair and wrong for us in this House to lay down hard and fast rules for the local education authorities who, after all, should know what is best for their own localities and should be allowed to consider each case on its merits. We have to think of the child and whether he or she can get a really good job by leaving in the middle of the term, and we ought not to sacrifice the future of the child to the wishes of teachers or of local education authorities. The children are only to be exempted for beneficial employment, and I am sure the local education authorities will not give exemptions during the middle of the term unless it is of the utmost importance in their opinion, but if they do come to that conclusion, I 1924 think it is unfair of us, without knowing the local condition:, to lay down hard and fast rules.
The Bill, fortunately or unfortunately, has to cover the whole of England. We cannot have separate Bills for London, for the towns, and for the rural districts, and therefore it seems to me that it is only fair to give as much laxity or latitude as possible to the local authorities to judge each particular case. I understand the Government are not in favour of any form of wholesale exemptions during the term, and it is very improbable that many will be given. It is, I believe, a custom of most employers to take on new juvenile labour at the end of the term, and it is much better for the employers and for the juveniles to act in this way, because each then gets a better selection—the employer more children and the children more jobs from which to choose.
It is bound to take some time for the certificate to go through, and it is rather hard that if employer, parent, and child agree on a job and application is put in during the holidays, but does not go through until the first week of the new term, the child should have to remain in the school for perhaps another three months. Furthermore, the child, if he knows that he has a job to go to, is not likely to get very much benefit from those three months in the school; and in these exceptional cases, where for some unforeseen circumstance a certificate has been delayed and does not come through until the new term has started. I think the local education authority should have power to grant an exemption. On the other hand, an employer might not be able to wait for three months, and he might go to another district to get a child for the job. We must remember that the terms in neighbouring districts do not all start at the same time. Therefore, if the Amendment were passed, children seeking jobs in another area would be at some disadvantage. Again, the child might lose a first-class job because the local authority were not empowered to let him go at the time he was wanted, even if a really good job, which might last him for life, was available.
We are all agreed that the provisions of the Bill should be flexible, and we do not want to lay down hard-and-fast rules. The educationists can put their case much more ably than I can, but I feel that in 1925 special cases the parents in conjunction with the local education authorities should have the power to get exemptions during the term. Finally, I would like to point out that nothing in this Bill interferes with Section 138, Sub-section (1) of the Education Act of 1921, under which no child can leave school before the end of the term until it is 14 years of age. I ask the House to reject the Amendment and to trust the local authorities to do the right thing for each child in each case.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Mr. E. EVANS
I was rather surprised to hear the hon. Member for Finchley (Mr. Crowder) saying he was anxious that the Bill should be permissive. There was a good deal of compulsion involved on an earlier point this evening, but when we tried to make it permissive, we failed to get the hon. Member's support. He also said another thing which rather surprised me. He said he was in favour of giving local authorities laxity and latitude.
§ Mr. EVANS
There is, of course, a very great difference between the two. We are willing to give the local education authorities latitude, and it will be given, but we do not want to give them laxity, and the reason why we object to giving them laxity is because laxity is a bad thing, from the educational point of view, for the local authorities and for the children. The hon. Member said we must consider the child. Yes, but we must not consider the particular child. We must consider the child generally, and we have to consider the effect of this Clause upon the wellbeing of the children in the schools generally, not the wellbeing of a particular child. The Amendment tries to incorporate some regularity and some uniformity into the administration of education when the Bill becomes law. A good deal of complaint has been raised against the policy of raising the school-leaving age on the ground of administrative difficulties, but this Bill, by reason of the attempt to create exceptions arid exemptions, will raise administrative difficulties at least as great as any difficulties which are being created by the policy of the raising of the school-leaving age.
It is said that the Amendment next on the Paper, in the name of the President 1926 of the Board of Education, will meet the circumstances of the case. With great respect, I think his Amendment is about the most objectionable form of words which can be incorporated in an Act of Parliament. He proposes to say "owing to exceptional circumstances." If there is one thing which ought to be impressed upon the ordinary citizen of this country in recent years in regard to legislation it is the undesirability of introducing into an Act of Parliament words which may be interpreted in one way by one set of persons and in another way by another set of persons. The object which I imagine the Movers of the Amendment now before the House have in mind will not be in any way achieved by the words incorporated in the President's Amendment. From the educational point of view, it is silly not to impose the natural period for the termination of a boy's or girl's education, which is the end of the term. That natural period ought not to be departed from in the loose language which is to be found in the next Amendment.
Above all is the principle that we should give the teachers a. chance. Let them have a chance of carrying on their schools with some continuity. The task of the teacher in an elementary school is not an easy one. It is very trying to his patience, and when he sees the possibility of encouraging a particular pupil to reach a higher sphere, it is very discouraging to him to find that pupil suddenly, in the middle of the term, taken away from his class; and there is also the psychological effect of that removal on the other children in the same class. I believe that the President of the Board of Education, as President, ought to accept the Amendment now before the House.
§ 7.42 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I should like to stress the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mr. Crowder), that there may well be delay in the granting of the exemption certificate, a delay for which the parent of the child and still less the child itself are in no way responsible. I take it that it is because there may be administrative delays in the granting of exemption certificates that my right hon. Friend is ready to open, very slightly, a door through which 1927 the child may pass in a particular case. It seems to me that this Amendment introduces a new administrative feature that may very well be an uncertain one as to the date of its operation, and that you might easily have the case of a job which had been offered in the holidays not being able to be entered upon until the next term had begun because of the delay in the granting of the exemption certificate. Therefore, I oppose the Amendment, because I think it is necessary to keep some loophole open, though I hope it will he a small one, in order not to disorganise the school.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I do not think the last point made by the Noble Lady the Member for West Perth (Duchess of Atholl) is quite as strong as she appears to think it is. Even where a child has a prospect of employment in the next term, there is nothing to prevent a local education authority fixing a date in the holiday so as to allow the child to leave school in that period. I rise, however, to support the point which my hon. Friends have made on the educational grounds. I wonder why it is that the Minister is so against the precedent laid down for him in the Acts of Parliament of 1908 and 1918. It was there laid down specifically that if a child's fourteenth birthday fell at a date during term, that child was not entitled to leave school until the end of that term. I can only believe that the ground for insisting upon that condition was an educational ground, namely, that there should be no break in the term in which the fourteenth birthday happened to fall. It was the educational ground that made Parliament take that line in 1918. That is exactly the principle which we are trying to embody in our Amendment. Like other hon. Members, I have had a fairly extensive experience as a teacher and I know, and hon. Members even without teaching experience must feel, that it is most disturbing to have a number of children who may be leaving a given class at different times in the course of the same term.
There is another side of this matter to which I would direct the attention of the Minister. One of the great merits of the proposal to raise the school-leaving age 1928 is that it is to be associated with reorganisation. The content of the education is to be changed for children between the ages of 11 and 12, and if children are to be allowed to leave indiscriminately, anyhow, during the course of the term, the educational damage will be all the greater in consequence. The Minister seems to recognise some merits in the contention which we make, and he therefore proposes a form of words which he has placed on the Order Paper. There is, however, a great demerit attached to the right hon. Gentleman's proposal because the words are so vague. Anyone can read anything into them.
I do not understand why the right hon. Gentleman in introducing a Bill like this should be so wedded to these loose phrases. No one knows what he means by "beneficial employment." No one knows what "domestic hardship" means. Then there is another phrase, "exceptional circumstances." Exceptional circumstances may cover a whole host of things. Probably the Minister has in mind exceptional circumstances in the home. If, therefore, he is not able to accept our form of words—we shall have to vote for our own Amendment—and on the assumption that we are beaten, will he consider using the words "exceptional family circumstances," so as to limit it purely to the conditions of the family, and not to allow extraneous occupational circumstances to be interpolated? I hope very much that the right hon. Gentleman will accept our Amendment, because we are convinced that on purely educational grounds all the argument is in favour of our proposition rather than his.
§ 7.49 p.m.
In discussing this Amendment it is well that we should keep in our minds the provisions of the Bill as it is now drafted, and also the Amendment which I propose to move. There are many things which have been said by hon. Members opposite and the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Sir J Withers) with which I completely agree. I realise the difficulties of the teacher as a class diminishes, and the effect on the pupils as one by one they see their little fellows disappearing into the outside world; but those things have nothing to do with the circumstances we are now discussing. The hon. Member for 1929 Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) says that we must not allow children to leave indiscriminately, anyhow. How can he suggest that any local authority, primarily charged with the statutory duty under the words of this Clause and with the addition that I am going to move, would allow children to leave indiscriminately, anyhow, in the middle of a term?
The hon. Member who moved the Amendment recognised that the door, as he called it, was open only a very slight way, and he pleaded that it would be very much easier for the local authority if we closed the door altogether and did not allow them to exercise a discretion in the matter. I make special mention of this point because certain newspapers in the course of the campaign which they have conducted against the Bill have made references to this particular point, an important one, and on every occasion they have studiously left their readers under the impression that no safeguard whatsoever exists in the Bill as it is now drafted, or as it is proposed to be amended, and that any parent can claim exemption for a child whenever its birthday falls, and without having to wait until the end of the term. Hon. Members who have studied the Bill and those who attended the Debate in Committee know that statement to be untrue. They know that very strict rules are laid down for the exercise of the discretion of the local authority. It is narrowed down to this point: Should there be any circumstances whatsoever in which a child may be allowed to leave before the end of the term, or are there exceptional cases in which the local authority ought to have a discretion to allow a child to leave if they desire to exercise it? In a matter of this kind it is desirable to avoid too great a rigidity or the refusal of an exemption in circumstances which would create in the mind of the parents of the child a sense of grievance, which the local authority would like to avoid, and which for the sake of the administration of the Act it is much better that it should be avoided.
Let me put the sort of case that I have in mind. There is the case, for instance, of the child who during the holidays makes an application for employment. That application during the holidays comes up before the local authority who, perhaps for the purpose of some inquiry such as an inquiry by a medical officer 1930 into the child's health, puts back the application to another meeting until the information is obtained. It may be that the next meeting falls in term time. When the application comes before the authority they are satisfied with the information and are perfectly prepared to grant the application. If the information had been before them a week before they would have granted the application, and if they had granted it the child could have gone immediately to the job. Now, because of their own act in demanding further information, the child has to wait, perhaps, three months before getting exemption. I cannot believe that there is any administrator who would not want discretionary power to meet that kind of circumstances, or to meet circumstances which may well arise in neighbouring areas whose term times happen to differ. I read a letter the other day from a very well known education administrator, who has been opposed to the Bill as a whole, who said that this kind of discretion should certainly be reserved for the local authority.
There is the other case, which does not arise very often, but it sometimes turns up, and if you cannot meet it, it is likely to cause a sense of injustice. It is the case of exceptional opportunity to obtain a job of which you could say: "If the child gets this job, it is not an ordinary routine job, but one which will really give the child an opportunity not only of permanent employment but a real advance." Yet that job turns up a few weeks before the end of the term and the employer is not able to give notice. A few weeks later the term ends and the child can then get exemption for a job which cannot offer nearly as much opportunity, and the exceptional job so far as that child is concerned has had to go vacant. It is no good saying that the job will be filled by another child, perhaps by some child over 15. You will never satisfy the child or the parents of that child who have seen that unique opportunity pass. There is also the case to which the hon. Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Markham) referred, the case of exceptional circumstances in the home, where some sudden family disaster may make the authorities wish they had a discretion of this kind to exercise.
I cannot accept the Amendment that has been moved, because the two cases to which I have referred, the exceptional 1931 job and the purely machinery delay, are cases which would not be covered by the Amendment and which ought to be covered. The case of the exceptional family circumstances I am anxious to meet. The case of the sudden demand from industry, no. I do not regard that as coming within the purview of the Bill. We do not want to see the system of the ordinary recruitment of industry at the end of the term destroyed. That system is for the benefit of everyone, the employer, the child and those who have to administer education. If I thought that this Clause, strictly limited as it is, would do that, I should not be proposing it, but I am convinced that it will not do that. I am convinced that the local authorities will administer it as it is intended to be administered. It is a discretion to meet exceptional cases, and I believe that in giving the local authorities that discretion to meet exceptional cases it will enable them to do away with grievances which might otherwise arise, and enable a smoother working of the administration of the Bill, without having any effect upon the system of end-of-term recruitment which we all wish to see preserved.
§ 7.49 p.m.
§ Mr. LECKIE
Although my name is associated with the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), I was not aware of the concession which the Minister has now made. Having listened very attentively to all the speeches and the reply of the Minister, I do not think that we should go wrong in accepting his assurance and adopting the Amendment that he proposes. All educationists are agreed as to the vital importance of preserving terms in school and not allowing exemptions to come in and break up terms, but there are conceivable circumstances where it may be desirable to give some discretion to the local authorities on this point. The Minister having met us in this way, I think we ought to meet him in the same generous spirit. I feel that we can trust local authorities in this matter. The Clause, with the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to make, safeguards the position and although it may be difficult to get a legal definition of the words "owing to exceptional circumstances" 1932 I think that when local education authorities get together and take a common sense view of the question, there will be no difficulty in putting that phrase into force. Therefore I have decided to support the Minister in this matter.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Sir F. ACLAND
This is a difficult question, and I strongly agree with the President of the Board of Education that it is unfair to argue the point against his position as if the only alternative was that we are to allow children to go away any old time during the term. As far as employers have got into the habit of recruitment I hope it will be encouraged. Clearly the words which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to put in the Clause are intended to have a definite meaning, and to limit the number of exemptions given during term time to quite a small proportion. But there are a number of agricultural employers who have no idea of trying to take on boys of any particular type; they just ask for a boy, say that they want him, and I am rather afraid that these saving words of the Minister, as he hopes them to be, "owing to exceptional circumstances" will be given a rather wider interpretation, and will mean the exceptional circumstance that the child has been offered a particular job on a particular date. That is the exceptional circumstances, and it will be so interpreted in a good many cases.
The right hon. Member cannot seriously contend that the fact that a child has been offered a job on a particular date is an exceptional circumstance.
§ Sir F. ACLAND
It may be interpreted as an exceptional circumstance so far as the child is concerned. The employer will argue that unless he can get this boy when he wants him he will have to employ some other boy. It may be, therefore, an exceptional opportunity for that child, and it will be so argued unless exemption is given at the date when the application is made. We all know the difficulty about the teachers. From the point of view of the children in the class, although there will not be a very considerable diminution in the number in the class during the term, if there is any dribbling out, the rest of the class will have their eyes on the door and will be wondering whether they cannot get out as well. The Bill is 1933 going to be difficult to administer in big rural counties. It will have to be done by sub-committees. There will have to be a sub-committee in the area of each attendance officer, and it should be fully representative of the different areas. The right people in a big rural district are not very easy to get together very frequently, but if we can get into the routine of having these cases prepared by the attendance officer and then considered by the local committee in full attendance at certain definite times, the work will be done well. If there are to be a few extra applications dribbling in at any time, the work will not be done so well, nor will the people be so regular in their attendance on the sub-committee. The whole machinery of the work to be done by the attendance officer, considered by the local committee and then forwarded to the education authority, will be complicated.
One has to consider the educational machinery of the authorities as well as the machinery of the class, and so far as the machinery of the authorities is concerned there will be greater simplification and greater efficiency if the applications are concentrated to take effect from the end of the term. I hope the Committee will consider this matter. If it is known that you can get children only at the end of the term, employers will soon fall in with it and will realise it; whereas if there is any possibility of "exceptional circumstances" they will always be trying to argue exceptional circumstances, and local education authorities will not know where they are.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. MESSER
I think that the right hon. Gentleman has mis-stated the exact position of the administration in this matter. My experience of a public authority indicates that any educational committee would prefer not to have the responsibility of deciding what are exceptional circumstances. As a matter of fact, the Debate in the House seems to indicate that we cannot agree as to what is exceptional. Anyone who has had any experience of local government work will realise that at the present time there is immense pressure on those who occupy responsible positions by parents and children to release them before the end of the term, and that pressure will be exerted in far greater measure when the 1934 school-leaving age is raised. The consequence will be that we shall have candidates for local authorities chosen not because of their ability but because of their weakness in giving way to the applications of parents who want their children to leave school, and one can foresee that education authorities will be trying to find out what are exceptional circumstances. As a matter of fact on a committee of which I am a member we have something now of that nature in regard to a regulation that people can be granted a sum of money in excess of the rate laid down, in exceptional circumstances. The committee does its best to find what are exceptional circumstances, if it likes the applicant.
The hon. Member for Finchley (Mr. Crowder) does not realise the danger of his proposition. He asks that local authorities should be given latitude to do whatever they like. The county council may be the education authority for one part of an area, and the urban district council or borough council the authority for another part of the area. Their education policies may be at variance with each other, and in that case it may be possible for the children under one authority to be able to get exemptions and the children under another authority be unable to do so, if we accept the suggestion of the hon. Member. Also the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Orr-Ewing) seemed to be putting forward a very dangerous plan. As far as I understood his argument he suggested that not only in this instance, but generally, exemptions should be controlled by the local authority. The teachers themselves prefer to know the number of children they are to teach until the end of the term.
§ Mr. ORR-EWING
The hon. Member has rather misunderstood my argument. I said that there might be exceptional cases where it would be to the disadvantage of the child, to the parents and also to the employer, if the child was not released. The question whether a child should or should not be released can only arise, as regards the education authority, if the employment is proved to be suitable or not. That is the only case in which a local authority can give a ruling.
§ Mr. MESSER
I thought the hon. Member was suggesting a general release 1935 by local authorities. The point I was making was that a teacher is not one who is just pumping knowledge into the heads of children. He is one who is planning a course of work, which takes into consideration the period under which he is able to do the work in view, and it would be impossible for teachers to do their work successfully if, during the term, there was a general exodus of pupils from the class. And there is also this point, that if a child knows that it will not be able to leave until the end of the term it will make the best use of the time, but if there is always the vision of the great escape by the creation of exceptional circumstances, its mind will be unsettled and its capacity for study will be weakened. I want to appeal not for the exceptional child in exceptional circumstances, but for children in the general sense. I feel that if the Amendment is not accepted we shall not improve the Bill. I do not think that the proposed Amendment of the Minister means very much, but if the Amendment is accepted we shall do something to make the Bill a little better measure.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. GALLACHER
I had not intended to take part in the discussion, but I have listened to arguments which have affected me with something approximating to disgust. There is no concern whatever for the children on the part of hon. Members opposite in any of their arguments on this matter. The Minister says that if a child can get a particular job which means a career it is no use saying that another child of 15 can get it, because it will not satisfy the child which has to do without it. If exemption between terms is not allowed, then the child of 15 will not get the offer of the job. In every part of the country we have various social services and institutions providing technical and other training for children of 15 and 16 years of age. They are forced to attend these institutions and officers go to their homes and threaten their parents if they do not attend. These children cannot get jobs, and yet hon. Members talk about exemptions between terms as though they were concerned with the children or their parents. There are plenty of children aged 15 idle at the present 1936 time. An hon. Member said that we had to give justice to the children and their parents, and another hon. Member talked about hardship in the family. What do these arguments amount to? They are the quintessence of hypocrisy. The real object is to provide cheap labour for the employer.
How are we to feel when we hear the argument that the children must get out of the schools because of hardship in the family coming from the very people who impose the means test on the family? I cannot understand how anyone can have the hypocrisy to come forward with such an argument. It is the people who are behind this Bill and these exemptions who are responsible for the hardship in the family. Where is the justice to the child or the parents in taking the child away from school before the end of the term? The whole thing turns on the fact that if the employer cannot get the child out of school at 14 years of age between the terms, he will have to pay a bigger wage to a child of 15 years of age who is already idle. Hon. and right hon. Members could go with me to any district in the country and they would find any number of such children idle. Whatever hon. Members opposite may do, let them not try to make out that they are concerned with hardship in the family or the welfare of the children. I heard the Noble Lady the Member for Western Perth and Kinross (Duchess of Atholl) speaking about leaving the door open a little, but I know from the discussions in which the Noble Lady took part in the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills that she would push the door open in every class of school, from infants upwards, to allow the employers to get the children out and make a profit out of them. If hon. Members opposite are concerned about hardship in the family, instead of making exemptions between terms let them remove the hardship from the family. I ask the House not to be taken in by any of these arguments. This releasing of children between terms hast1e object only of providing cheap labour for the employer. Therefore, I ask that the Amendment be supported, and that there be no exemption between terms for any children.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to 'the,' in line 32, stand part of the Bill."1938
§ The House divided: Ayes, 201; Noes, 116.1939
|Division No. 206.]||AYES.||[8.20 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Munro, P.|
|Agnew, Lieut. -Comdr. P. G.||Ganzonl, Sir J.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Albery, I. J.||Gibson, C. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Gledhlll, G.||Orr-Ewlng, I. L.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Glucksteln, L. H.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Apsley, Lord||Goodman, Col. A. W.||peake, O.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Penny, Sir G.|
|Assheton, R.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Grldley, Sir A. B.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Grlmctou, R. V.||Pethcrlck, M.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Grltten, W. G. Howard||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Balniel, Lord||Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Pllkington, R.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Guy, J. C. M.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Hamilton, Sir G. C.||Radford, E. A.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Hanbury, Sir C.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Blinded, Sir J.||Hannah, I. C.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Harbord, A.||Rathfbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Hartington, Marquess of||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Harvey, G.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Reid, W. Allen (Derby)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan.||Rickards, G. W. (Sklpton)|
|Bull, B. B.||Herbert, A. P. (Oxford u.)||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Burghley, Lord||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Herbert, Captain S. (Abbey)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Butler, R. A.||Holdsworth, H.||Rowlands, G.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Holmes, J. S.||Ruggles-Brlse, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Cary, R. A.||Hopklnson, A.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Channon, H.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Salt, E. W.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Christie, J. A.||Hunter, T.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Jackson, Sir H.||Scott, Lord William|
|Cobb, Sir C. S.||James, Wing-Commander A. W.||Selley, H. R.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J.||Joel, D. J. B.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff(W'st'r S.G'gs)||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lfst),|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Unlvs.)||Smiles, Lieut. -Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Craddock, Sir R. H.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwlch)|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Latham, Sir P.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Crooke, J. S.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Leckle, J. A.||Spender-Clay, Lt.-CI. Rt. Hn. H. H.|
|Groom-Johnson, R. P.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Crossley, A. C.||Lees-Jones, J.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Levy, T.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Davies, Major G. F (Yeovll)||Liddall, W. S.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Denvllle, Alfred||Llewellin, Lieut. -Col. J. J.||Strickland, Captain w. F.|
|Drewe, C.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Lyons, A. M.||Sutcllffe, H.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Mabane, W. (Huddersfleld)||Tasker, Sir R. 1.|
|Dugdale, Major T. L.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Taylor, vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Duggan, H. J.||MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.)||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Tltchfield, Marquess of|
|Eales, J. F.||McKle, J. H.||Touche, G. C.|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Magnay, T.||Turton, R. H.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Maklns, Brig. -Gen. Ep||Wallace, Captain Euan|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Mannlngham-Buller, Sir M.||Ward, Lleut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Emery, J. F.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Wardlaw- Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Markham, S. F.||Wells, S. R.|
|Entwlstle, C. F.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Erskine Hill, A. G.||Mellor, Sir J. S. p. (Tamworth)||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Hides, Sir H.||Moore, Lieut. -Col. T. C. R.||Wlndsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel G.|
|Flndlay, Sir E.||Morelng, A. C.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Fleming, E. L.||Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)||Wragg, H.|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Morrison, W. S. (Clrencester)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Furness, S. N.||Muirhead, Lt. Col. A. J.||Captain Hope and Captain|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Barr, J.||Burke, W. A.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Batey, J.||Cape, T.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Bellenger, F.||Cassells, T.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Benson, G.||Charleton, H. C.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Bevan, A.||Chater, D.|
|Astor, visc'tess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Broad, F. A.||Cluse, W. S,|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Bromfleld, W.||Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Buchanan, G.||Cocks, F. S.|
|Compton, J.||Hopkin, D.||Parker, H. J. H.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jagger, J.||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Potts, J.|
|Daggar, G.||John, W.||Qulbell, D. J. K.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Rlley, B.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Ritson, J.|
|Ede, J. C.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphllly)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Kelly, W. T.||Rowson, G.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Kirby, B. V.||Shinwell, E.|
|Frankel, D.||Klrkwood, D.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Gallacher, W.||Lawson, J. J,||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Leach, W.||Smith, Rt Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Leonard, W.||Stephen, C.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Leslie, J. R.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Glbbins, J.||Logan, D, G.||Taylor, R. J (Morpeth)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Thorne, W.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||McGhee, H. G.||Thurtle, E.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||McGovern, J.||Tinker, J J.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'shro, W.)||MacLaren, A.||Vlant, S. P.|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Maclean, N.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Griffiths, J (Llanelly)||Macmlllan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Westwood, J.|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Marklew, E.||Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Maxton, J.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Hardle, G. D.||Messer, F.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Harris, Sir P. A.||Milner, Major J.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Montague, F.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)||Woods, G. S. (Flnsbury)|
|Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Young, S r R. (Newton)|
|Hicks, E. G.||Muff, G.|
|Hills, A. (Pontelract)||Oliver, G. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hollins, A.||Paling, W.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr Mathers.|
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ The ATTORNE - GENERAL (Sir Donald Somervell)
I beg to move, in page 2, line 32, after "case," to insert "owing to exceptional circumstances."
I think this Amendment was included in the discussion on the previous Amendment, and it is probably unnecessary for me to add anything to what has already been said concerning it.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I beg to move, in page 2, line 40, at the end, to insert:"which may not he more than forty in any one week nor before the hour of eight in the morning nor after the hour of six in the evening.The granting of exemptions under this Clause is subject to certain considerations, and the first consideration which is laid down in Sub-section (4) is:the nature and probable duration of the employment, the wages to be paid, and the hours of work.We propose that there should be a limitation upon those hours of work and the limitation which we submit is twofold. First, we say that the hours should not exceed 40 per week, and, secondly, that they should not be before eight o'clock in the morning nor after six o'clock in the evening. The point raised by the Amendment is familiar and it is hardly necessary to discuss it at length, but lest it should seem that we 1940 attach no importance to it, I wish to state briefly the case in support of it. As regards the question of a 40-hour week, we are living in times when the proposal of a 40-hour week for adults has become a familiar subject of discussion. I know that the Government have yet to come to a conclusion upon the adoption of a 40-hour week for adults, but public opinion internationally is moving in that direction. If a 40-Imur week is regarded as desirable for adult people, how much more should that be the case in respect of children of the lender years of 14 to 15? I do not think [need dwell upon the merits of the proposal in favour of limiting the hours of work of these children to 40 per week.
I turn to the other part of our proposal, namely, than; these hours should not be before eight o'clock in the morning nor after six o'clock in the evening. Here again we are touching upon a subject of common public discussion at the present time. The revelations of Sir John Orr have recently directed our attention to the very serious condition of the children of our country, both in school and elsewhere, and in particular to the physical condition of those children. For children of the ages of 14 to 15, eight o'clock in the morning is sufficiently early to be at work and six o'clock in the evening is sufficiently late. It is now a popular thing to emphasise the necessity for physical recreation. It has become fashionable in the 1941 highest quarters to urge that facilities in this respect should be made available to young people. How in the world are these young people to avail themselves of facilities for physical recreation unless their hours of work finish, at least, at six p.m.? As to the starting hour of eight a.m., I cannot speak for other hon. Members but, for myself, I find eight a.m. sufficiently early. Others may speak for themselves, but if that hour is early for me, then I suggest it is sufficiently early for children from 14 to 15. The case for the Amendment is so familiar and, I think, so overwhelming, that I do not think I need press it any further.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
I support the Amendment because I moved a similar one in Committee, and I want to emphasise the importance of it from a different angle. The Bill provides that to an exemption certificate can be attached a requirement for education and attendance at a continuation school or an evening institute—an important and vital provision. If the provision in the Amendment is attached to exemption certificates some of the objections to the Bill in its present form will be removed and it will be an important contribution to continued education after entrance into employment. Anybody who has had experience of continued education of young people knows that the difficulty is that those who have been at work for long hours in a factory or workshop are incapable of getting any real advantage from the education they are given. I have seen in many schools, after young persons have been persuaded by their employers, or through the zeal of local education authorities, to go to continuation classes, that the constant difficulty has been to keep up the attendance because the young people complain, after long hours in a factory or workshop, that they are too tired to take any real advantage from the classes.
My experience is that these evening classes can do much good if we can get regular attendance. Great work is being done all over London and the great provincial cities in evening institutes, but. if this work is to develop and if attendance is to be a general rule, we must limit the number of hours during which children have to be in an office or workshop. To apply the 40-hour week 1942 generally to exempted children would be to do a great work for the whole system of continued education, and it will give a great stimulus to the whole organisation of evening schools which have taken so long to build up. I am sorry that the Minister is not in his place, although I am not sorry that the Attorney-General is here, because I have always found him very sympathetic, adaptable and willing to learn. I should like to take him to some of the evening institutes in the East end of London to see the fine work that is being done under great handicaps. I am sure that he would be convinced about this apparently harmless Amendment.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. ORR-EWING
I find myself in some agreement with much that has been said by the hon. Baronet the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris). I have had an opportunity of visiting some of the places where the work to which he has referred is carried on, and my experience has been such as to lead me to wish to encourage that work in every possible way. It not only provides an opportunity for the better assimilation of knowledge, but I think there is a certain spirit in those classes which is of extreme value to the younger generation. I feel grave doubts, however, whether I could support an Amendment of this type in this Bill. We are asked to believe, and I do believe, that this is a Bill dealing with education. If we examine the Preamble and the Debates that have taken place in Committee, we find that the attention of all Members has been contemplated on the question of the education of the individual child. I do not believe that we would be right to include in an educational Measure an Amendment which really should be dealt with in some other Measure governing the hours of employment of children and young persons. It may be that the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) finds it inconvenient to rise before 8 o'clock. I agree with him on that point, but it is not a thing for which we can legislate in an educational Measure.
Though I feel that the majority of Members would be in agreement with the general principle which has been put forward as regards the limitation of hours of work of young people, I am not clear why these particular hours have been put 1943 forward, because I understood that other hours had been agreed upon for the employment of young persons. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I speak subject to correction, but I certainly understood that the evening and morning hours mentioned in the Amendment were not the standard hours. However that may be, I cannot see that it would be right to include in an educational Measure a provision which would govern the hours of employment outside education. If we have to deal with that problem, let us face it in a Measure which deals with the employment of children who have been exempted from school. This Bill is not the right place to do it. Surely those who are considering the exemption of children from school attendance and the question of a particular child for a particular job, will have to be governed in their consideration by the existing law regarding the employment of children at the particular age at which they are to be exempted. It would be wrong and illogical for us to put in the particular hours of work for any industry. If the Amendment is to be considered seriously, it does not go far enough and we should have to go into much greater detail. The majority of the House would be in favour of a rigid regulation of the employment of young persons. I am in favour of the spirit of the Amendment but I cannot feel that we should be doing right in including the regulations of employment in an Education Bill.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. COVE
The hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Orr-Ewing) has stated that he has great admiration for these institutions and apparently would like children to attend them. He has nothing but praise for them, but he refuses to- take any steps whereby the children shall have an opportunity of attending them. He has words of sympathy—
§ Mr. ORR-EWING
I made it perfectly clear, I hope, that I did not feel unwilling to take steps to make it possible for children to attend these institutions—very far from it; but what I did say was that this Bill was not the right vehicle by which we should proceed in that direction. We should give effect to our will in that direction by some other means.
§ Mr. COVE
I can only tell the hon. Member that when I was a lad I was brought up in Wesleyan Methodism, and in those days it was always emphasised from the pulpit that the day of salvation was now. It is now that the hon. Member has his opportunity. He is prepared at some time, somewhere, in some distant future, to do all this, but not now. I would remind the hon. Member that he is entirely mistaken about the character of this Bill. This is not an Education Bill. If it were a real Education Bill many of the Amendments which we put down would have been entirely unnecessary. This is a Bill which theoretically raises the school-leaving age to 15.
§ Mr. COVE
I am not debating the Bill. With all respect, I was just mentioning that this is a Bill which theoretically raises the school-leaving age and then grants exemptions for those who can find beneficial employment. If the hon. Member will look through the conditions which govern beneficial employment he will find that they are entirely vague, a collection of words which can be interpreted by one authority in one way and by another authority in another way. All the provisions lack definiteness and preciseness. Here we are asking for something definite, something that the local authorities can understand. Here is a direct instruction which they can apply and of which they will know exactly the meaning. All the other conditions are very vague, they are meant to be vague, they are meant to be interpreted—
§ Mr. COVE
With all respect, I am bound to mention them in order to enforce the argument that here the hon. Member has a chance to support something which is clearly defined, something which, on his own admission, is absolutely essential for the education of these children. At that age children who work for long hours cannot take advantage of the educational facilities offered to them. It would be cruel to impose educational activities upon them when they have worked long hours. Here 1945 we are asking the hon. Member to translate that ton of sympathy which he has into a little ounce of practical effort on behalf of the children by going into the Lobby with us on behalf of the Amendment.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ The ATTORNE-GENERAL
The hon. Member who moved this Amendment stated, what I think was true, that the arguments on it were developed at considerable length in Committee upstairs, and the point as he put it is one that is very familiar to Members on all sides of the House. I, therefore, hope that I am consulting the convenience of the House if I rise at a fairly early stage in the discussion to indicate what are the views of the Government on the Amendment. It has been quite clear to all of us who have taken any part in the discussions on this Bill that hon. Members opposite and the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor) do not like the exemption provisions, but I have had a very satisfactory experience of the logicalness and fair-mindedness of hon. Members opposite, and I am sure they will agree that on this Amendment we are not discussing the merits or demerits of exemption, but that the Amendment must be considered in the light of the principle underlying the Bill that there shall be exemptions for beneficial employment, subject, of course, to certain conditions. I think those are the surroundings in which this Amendment falls to be considered.
It is obvious that it is open to any local authority, in the exercise of its power to decide whether or not to grant an exemption certificate, to have regard to the hours of work and, in the case of any particular employment, to say, "We do not regard this as beneficial because the hours of work are too long to enable the child to take advantage of the opportunities for evening education" It is quite open to any and every local authority to set a standard even higher than that which is in the Amendment, if it so pleases, in the case of any particular child or group of children. On the other hand, it would be quite wrong, once the House has approved the principle of exemptions for beneficial employment, to introduce a. rigid provision with regard to the hours of work such as would rule out of consideration certain 1946 employments which might well be beneficial but in which the hours of work would be greater than 40 a week. That is why I quite understand that anyone who wants to drive a coach and horses through the exemptions provisions of the Bill should support this Amendment as a wrecking Amendment to that part of the Bill, though I am not suggesting that anyone has done so.
But while I pay my tribute to the logicalness and fairmindedness of hon. Members opposite, once you concede the principle that it is legitimate for local authorities to say, "Here is an opportunity of employment which may be beneficial to the child's future," it would not be right to insert a rigid provision which would exclude from their consideration a large number of employments in which the hours which the child of 14 to 15 would be asked to work would be over 40 a week.
§ The ATTORNE-GENERAL
Take the Shop Hours Act. Two years ago this House approved legislation which at the end of this year will make the maximum hours to be worked by boys and girls between 14 and 16 years of age, 48 hours a week. That decision was taken by this House two years ago.
§ The ATTORNE-GENERAL
Well, that would include those between 14 and 16. In the years from 1926 to 1929 a number of factory Bills were introduced by hon. Members opposite in which 48 hours a week was the period of employment for all persons in employment—those of 14 years and upwards. An hon. Gentleman in the Debate last night made an appeal to us on this side not to quote what was done by the Labour Government between 1929 and 1931 as precedents for all that we did. I do not want in any controversial spirit to dig into the past, but it is fair to point out that when hon. Gentlemen opposite introduced their Bill they took 48 hours as the figure for persons of 14 and over who were in employment.
§ The ATTORNE-GENERAL
I am talking of 1927, 1928 and 1929. If the 1947 House accepts the Amendment, that would rule out a very large number of opportunities of employment which might properly be considered beneficial by local authorities. The Bill will not come into operation for three years. The Government have promised to bring in, during the next year, a Factories Bill laying down hours of work for children from 14 to 18, or whatever ages the House may decide. Before the present Bill comes into active operation, hon. Members will have been able to consider what limitations it is proper to impose upon employers in respect of the very class with which we are dealing in this Bill.
There has been discussion as to whether the local authorities may be entrusted properly to administer the Bill. Our education system depends upon proper administration by the local authority, and we provide them in the Bill with a direct pointer, in Clause 2 (4 a)The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) would be the last to suggest that local authorities do not properly consider matters entrusted to them by this House.
§ The ATTORNE-GENERAL
I think this is a perfectly proper task to place upon the local authority, in respect to the considerations which they have to have in mind in deciding whether a particular employment is beneficial employment or not. They are given a direct pointer by this House to consider hours of work as one of the factors which must be taken into account. The Government trust the local authorities to give proper consideration to hours of work. When one couples with that fact the fact that the Government have promised that a Factories Bill will be brought before the House before this Bill comes into operation—[Interruption.] That will be the proper Bill in which hours of work should be considered, and I advise the House not to accept the Amendment.
§ The ATTORNE-GENERAL
I was not saying what the provisions of the Factories Bill would be, but only that it will be the proper place in which to deal with hours of work, not oily for farm children, but for all children; and that the Factories Bill will be before the House prior to the coming into operation of this Bill.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mr. OLIVER
I hope that hon. Members will not be swayed by the blandishments of the Attorney-General. His is, indeed, a master mind for providing appropriate occasions, but they are never the occasions when the particular Bill is under discussion. A few weeks ago, we introduced a Bill for the abolition of the doctrine of common employment. The Attorney-General, while sympathetic to the Measure, used the same blandishments, and stated that that was not the proper occasion; the proper occasion was when the Workmen's Compensation Bill was introduced. Last Friday we introduced a Workmen's Compensation Bill. Still sympathetic, the Attorney-General said that that was not the proper occasion to deal with the problem. The proper occasion was some other time. The Attorney-General delights us with the phraseology in which he invites us. He is extremely sympathetic. He says that a Factories Bill is to be introduced which will be a much more appropriate occasion than this Measure to deal with the hours of child labour.
We are dealing with the youngest people employed in this country, the children who leave school at 14, and if there must be control of hours of labour, surely those are the British subjects whose hours of labour shout I be controlled; and what more appropriate occasion can there be than the consideration of this Amendment, for children w ho leave school for the first time? The hon. Member who preceded the Attorney-General and spoke about 40 hours per week labour for children, was very sympathetic to the Amendment, but he thought it would not be a good idea in this Bill to limit the hours of labour of children. I may be wrong, but I think that wren the old School Board issued labour certificates for children who were working half-time, the education authorities recognised the principle of the limitation of hours of labour of children leaving school. That goes 1949 back for 30 or 40 years, and, surely, what could be done then might be done in 1936.
In that particular case it was an arrangement in which there was to be a definite combination of education and work, and the hours of education and the hours of work were limited. That was a very specific case, which can hardly be regarded as comparable with the present case.
§ Mr. OLIVER
This Bill attempts to blend education and employment; hence the exemptions which are included; and I should have thought it very appropriate that some attempt should be made to see that, when a child left school and entered the labour market, there was some control over the hours that the child should work. If children are to take advantage of the educational facilities that are now afforded by night schools and so on, it is right that they should not exhaust their energy or absorb 40 hours of their available time before they can take advantage of such educational facilities as may be in existence. I think that this Amendment is one of the best that has been proposed if this part of the Bill must go through, and I hope the House will support it unanimously, so that we may make the Bill something to be proud of.
§ 9.7 p.m.
I must say that, charming and persuasive as the Attorney-General was, he was not very convincing. He said that the Government were going to bring in a Factory Bill, but all Governments for the last 10 years have been going to bring in Factory Bills. But even if the Government do bring in a Factory Bill, it, will not cover some of the children whom we are trying to protect. The President of the Board of Education knows that there are 300,000 children in unregulated trades, and the Government, when they brought in the Children Act, said they would bring in a Bill to protect those children in unregulated trades. That Bill has not been brought in, although every Government since 1925 has promised to bring in such a Bill. This Bill, after all, is an Education Bill, and surely it must be the desire of the President of the Board of Education, and of the Government, that those children who are taken out of school at 14 and put into 1950 trades should get educational facilities, I have been telling the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) that he ought to be speaking on this subject, because he talked very convincingly two or three years ago about educational facilities for children after leaving school. If that is the point of view of the President of the Board of Education and of the House, as I think it must be, no one really wants children to stop all education at 14 and go into jobs that employ them for 48 hours a week. Not only are they going into such jobs, but, until we have a Bill to control the employment of children in unregulated trades, they will go into jobs where they are employed for 72 hours a week. I could give such cases, and the Minister knows of them; they have been given time and again in this House. We find children leaving school at 14 and going into jobs where they work longer hours than their parents, and there is nothing in the Bill to stop that.
The local authorities have power, in granting exemptions, to consider the conditions with regard to hours.
But we know that they do not do it. They have had it for years with regard to the employment of children in unregulated trades, but it is permissive, and they have never done it. Now is the Minister's chance to bring in an Education Bill—
I do not want to interrupt the Noble Lady, but I have a vivid recollection of the Committee stage of the Bill to which she is referring, and the great enthusiasm with which she urged an Amendment which was to give the local authorities this power.
And what has been the result? Not one of them has used it. Can the Minister show me a single local authority that has limited the hours of children in unregulated trades? That is exactly my point. It is no use hon. Members saying that they feel deeply about this matter. If this Amendment is accepted, it will make it impossible for children at 14 years of age 1951 to take jobs which will employ them for more than 40 hours a week. I am certain that, if hon. Members were to go back to their constituents and say they have voted for an Amendment that made it impossible for children to be exempted from school at 14 in order to go into a trade which would employ them for more than 40 hurs a week, they would get the backing of every right-thinking person in their constituencies. I see the tragedy of it. These children go to night schools, but they simply cannot do it. Only the other day I came across a boy who had gone into one of the big, smart hotels. While he had been in another job, where the hours were shorter, he had been attending my classes, but now, although he was getting on so well in the class, his hours are so long that he cannot continue.
It breaks one's heart to see this going on, and it is not necessary. The Minister knows that, if he accepted this Amendment, it would protect children who, even under a Factory Act, would get no protection. I beg him to accept the Amendment, and I beg hon. Members to vote for it. It is our job to protect the children, and this gives us a chance of doing so. Do not let hon. Members believe it when they are told that the Factory Bill is going to cover all the children. It is not going to cover those who most need protection, that is to say, the children in unregulated trades. Up to the present time, when the local authorities have exempted children, the great majority of them have gone into unregulated trades—as messenger boys, lift boys, van boys and so on. I sometimes wish that, before hon. Members came to the House to discuss a Bill like this, they would take the trouble to see these things for themselves. If they did, we should have a much better Bill. Attractive as is the bedside manner of the Attorney-General in this House, it is not going to convince many of us that this is not a good Amendment.
§ 9.14 p.m.
§ Mr. THURTLE
I was interested to hear the Noble Lady say that she had knowledge of the bedside manner of the Attorney-General. I thought he was not a member of the medical profession, but apparently I am mistaken. The Attorney-General said that we should wait for the Factories Bill to deal with this question. 1952 I wonder whether this is the kind of Government that we can trust, whether this is the sort of Government which gives its word and never breaks it? I seem to remember that this Government has made promises in regard to other legislation which it has not exactly kept. We have heard some talk about regulations dealing with unemployment. They have been promised for quite a long time. But the Government do not seem to be in a great hurry to redeem that promise. Then we have a Coal Mines Reorganisation Bill. That made a very brief appearance in the House, but it has disappeared, and we have no knowledge at all as to when it is to come back to us. So when the Attorney-General says, "We are going to introduce a Factory Bill possibly next Session," we are entitled to be a little sceptical as to whether the Government will really keep its word.
The suggestion that we should pass the responsibility for this on to the local authorities is not fair. The House is not discharging its responsibility when it suggests that the local authorities should be left to deal with a matter like this. All that we say in the Bill at present is that they should have regard to the hours to be worked by these children. We ought to be a little more explicit in that respect. We ought to tell them what we regard as reasonable hours and what we regard as a reasonable period in the day during which these children are to work. When a boy or girl starts on his or her first job, it is a very big event in life. It is the first stage in that long road towards the Old Age Pension, and there is no respite until the Old Age Pension is reached. There is a special responsibility on us not to make their first job too laborious or arduous. We ought to put in some specific limitation of the hours of work. The Attorney-General said that, if we insist on this provision, it would make it difficult for these boys and girls to get particular kinds of jobs, possibly jobs in shops and jobs as errand boys and office boys. If we are going to concede to employers of labour the special privilege of employing mere children of 14, they ought to be prepared to modify the provisions of employment in order to suit them. These things are not fixed so that they cannot be changed. If they like, they can alter the hours from 48 to 40. If the present starting time is 7 o'clock, they can alter 1953 it to 8 o'clock and, if the finishing time is 7 or 8 o'clock, they can bring it back to 6 o'clock. If they want to employ these mere children, we have a right to ask them to modify their conditions accordingly.
§ 9.19 p.m.
§ Mr. R. J. TAYLOR
The Attorney-General said that we can leave this to the local authorities, but it seems to me that, unless we are prepared to give them a definite instruction, the local authorities will have no discretion in the matter at all and the question of beneficial employment will be governed by the practice existing when the Bill comes into operation. I have believed all along, and I am more convinced than ever as I listen to these Debates and read the Debates in Committee, that this Bill is governed entirely in its outlook and its range by the dictates of employers in regard to feeding industry with cheap labour. A pledge was given at the General Election to protect these children at the tender age of 14. The Inspector of Mines for the North of England has been making an analysis of the returns of accidents in the mines. He says:The main points that emerge from an examination of the statistics are that the accident rates for boys employed at mines in the counties of Northumberland and Durham are much higher than the rate for boys employed throughout the country as a whole, and that they exceed greatly the accident rate for persons of all ages in the Northern division. This high rate cannot be regarded with equanimityWe work the two-shift system in the North of England and these little things are going to work till 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning. Are they in a fit state to safeguard their lives from injury at that hour? I do not want to stress altogether the humanitarian point, but it is our duty in this day and generation at least to safeguard our boys if we cannot keep them at school until they are 15. What is the position in regard to the accident rate? In 1933, between the ages of 14 and 16, there were one killed and 352 disabled for more than three days, in 1934 there were one killed and 513 injured, and in 1935 three killed and 534 injured; and yet here we can with equanimity consider that it is beneficial employment to allow these children to be going to work at hours ranging from 1 until 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning. I make this appeal, that they shall 1954 not work before 8 o'clock in the morning or later than 6 o'clock in the evening. For these reasons I support the Amendment.
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ Major J. HERBERT
I must confess that fundamentally I have some sympathy with the object of this Amendment. No one of us wants to see children working in unregulated trades, unnatural hours or under bad conditions, but hon. Members opposite are sometimes a little unfair to the people on this side of the House. They always seem to think that employers want to grind down their employés, whereas the great majority of employers want to increase the prosperity and improve the conditions of their workers. The object we ought to aim at is to try to get good conditions of work for all workers—not only children. This Amendment deals with only one type of worker, and I do not know that it is really practicable to deal with these children in this way. Under the previous Clause great care has been taken to see that children can be exempted only for approved employment, so that the unregulated trades or bad conditions would not be approved by local authorities. When a child reaches the age of 15, it will not come under this Amendment. If a child is exempted at 14 years 9 months, for three months he comes under one Amendment, and after that he comes under quite a different provision, while a child during his holidays, whether he is over or under 14, would not be safeguarded by this Amendment.
We ought all to look far wider than this. We should not try to bring in factory legislation in the Education Bill. The Attorney-General has stated that a new Factory Bill will be brought in by the Government. That is the type of legislation in which to deal with all types of work, and not by an Amendment to a Clause in the Education Bill. This Amendment does not deal with every child but with a few children of a specified type between the ages of 14 and 15. This Amendment has a charming ideal, but is impracticable and therefore it should not be supported. I would ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to consider that we cannot always have our ideals. We are all looking forward to a certain stage of employment, and this Amendment will rather hamper the general condition of employment.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. LOGAN
The object of the Bill, as I understand it, is that a child shall attend school until 15 years of age, and it is possible for a local authority to grant an exemption if application be made and a case can be made out. Where one year is being granted to the employer under the exemption clause, we have a right to consider whether it is beneficial employment or not. No employer of labour will apply for the laziest lad in the school. The cultured, brilliant, clever boy, the boy who will be most useful, will be the lad for whom application will be made. Only for the best boys in the schools will the employer be anxious to make application. While I am in agreement with the Minister that he may be doing all that is possible to give a boy a chance in life, it has got to be a place where a boy will have a fair chance, where there is continuity of employment from school to old age, and where the prospects will be good.
Everybody who has any idea of the speeding up in industry to-day knows that any boy or girl, leaving school at 14 years of age, nimble of finger and adapt at machines, is, with the various systems of mechanisation now in use, absolutely played out after 40 hours' work in a week. It is 40 years for a child. There is no sleeping at work to-day. In every workshop to-day there are timetables. Every shop has its system of regulation. There is clocking on and off. The capacity of each child is measured day by day to see what its output is. The most remarkable thing is that week by week they discharge the children who are not able to keep up the speed. Those children come back again, not to the labour market, but to school.
I put it to the Minister, anxious as he is to give each boy and girl a chance in life, that under modern conditions, with this exemption granted, unless the Members of this House rationalise the hours of work children will be able to receive no education whatever. It is the most ridiculous thing under the sun to say that when children have to do their very best in this mechanised age you can send them to evening classes after their work. It is the most nonsensical thing that ever was uttered in the House of Commons to say that children who have been speeded up over 1956 a 40-hour week are competent then to go home, get washed and go to the evening classes with the zest which is so essential to their welfare.
I am fully convinced, speaking from my knowledge of night schools, that the children in my district—and I know many thousands of them—are speeded up in the workshops in which they work at the age of 14 years to such all extent that body and soul are absolutely tired. When the Bill comes into operation, unless you regulate the hours of the labour, the exemption Clause will be detrimental to the best interests of the Education Bill. I am at one with the Minister in desiring that a boy or girl shall have the greatest opportunity possible, and that the nation will be the richer by the education it gives. Unless a regulation of this description is brought into operation, the Bill will be ineffective in regard to the future of the child.
§ 9.36 p.m.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
I have very great sympathy with hon. Members opposite and in all parts of the House who do not like to be put off by the answer which all of us have made from the Front Bench in our day, that this is not the appropriate time. It is always annoying to be put off with the statement of jam yesterday, jam to-morrow, but never jam to-day, I cannot help sympathising also with hon. Members who wonder whether the promised Factory Bill is ever going to eventuate. Moreover, without any relation at all to the question raised by my Noble Friend the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) of half-time education for those exempted from school attendance, I should feel it very difficult to vote against the Amendment, but clearly a 40-hour week is quite incompatible with anything like day continuation school education as an alternative to full-time schooling.
I sincerely hope that as a result of the Amendment which the Minister has put upon the Paper immediately following the present Amendment, local authorities are, in fact, going to limit the hours of labour and impose conditions as to day continuation schools. I am very much afraid that if you put any limit of hours of work at 40 as the one specific provision in the Bill on this point, you will deter local education authorities who otherwise might consider a system of day continuation schools 1957 from so doing. It is one of the greatest surprises of my life that no opponent of this Bill throughout these proceedings has put down an Amendment embodying the principle which I frequently advocated in the old days, of two years' day continuation education as an alternative to one year's extra school. That is, of course, entirely incompatible with this particular Amendment.
I would ask hon. Members who support the Amendment to consider what its nonsensical effect will be. I admit, and I grant it out of hand, that, if you are trying to enforce an impossible and nonsensical situation which would oblige the Government to bring in a Factory Bill imposing regulations as to the hours of labour of juveniles, it would be a very good way of doing it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Let us do it!"] If it is the hon. Member's principle of legislation, because you distrust the Government, to put an unworkable provision on the Statute Book in order to force the Government to bring in something later—if that is the hon. Member's principle of legislation and idea of doing business, I frankly admit that he may be justified.
§ Lord E. PERCY
Please let me conclude my argument. Consider what the actual situation would be if you passed this Amendment. At the present moment there is no statutory provision preventing a child under 14 at school from working far more than 40 hours a week during the holidays. Moreover, there is nothing on the Statute Book preventing a child from working during the school holidays between 6 and 8 in the evening or before 8 o'clock in the morning. What would be the result of this? A child of 14 can start work at 6 o'clock in the morning and he can still be at work at 8 o'clock in the evening. [An HON. MEMBER: "Shame!"] The hon. Member says "Shame," but you are not altering it. This Amendment does not alter it. Then when he has passed the age of 14 and gets exemption, suddenly he may not work for more than 40 hours a week, and he may not work after 6 o'clock in the evening. A few months afterwards, when he attains the age of 15, he may work 72 hours a week, and work at almost any hour in the morning and the evening. Could you have confusion worse confounded than that?
1958 I come finally to the point made by my Noble Friend the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth, that, in fact, local education authorities will not use the powers which the Minister proposes to grant to them under his Amendment next on the Paper. Does my Noble Friend realise that all the by-laws which at the present moment make the hours of child labour in the holidays tolerable in Plymouth and in every education area are by-laws passed by the local education authority under the Education Act which they are not forced in any way to pass? Why should local authorities who are to undertake the definite responsibility of exempting a child from further school attendance not exercise in respect of that child the same discretion as they now exercise in the case of all children during their school lives by the passage of bylaws and the imposition of conditions which will limit the hours of labour far more scientifically and effectively than they would be limited by this Amendment? The local authority at Plymouth has done this, and my Noble Friend knows that it has, and every local authority in the country will make use of these powers.
I should vote for this Amendment if it did not create a wholly impossible situation with regard to the variations in permissible hours of labour between the ages of 14 and 16, and I would advise hon. Members opposite to join with me in making sure that the Government do at least introduce a Factory Bill, and more than a Factory Bill, an Employment of Young Persons Bill regulating the hours of labour of all young people under the age of 16 at least.
I should like to know how we can join with the Noble Lord in making the Government do that.
§ Lord E. PERCY
It might be done if my Noble Friend would show a spirit of co-operation rather more than she usually does.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Mr. BARR
I would like to call attention to the fact that we are not only considering the hours of labour that a child of these years might work, but the hours of labour that it might work alongside of certain educational activities that the exempted child is pursuing. That opportunities are to be afforded to the child for further education is definitely 1959 laid down in the Clause, and we are not only laying down what will be a suitable number of hours for a child to work, but for a child to work who is already largely occupied in educational activities. That, I think, has a bearing upon what fell from the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) in regard to children working while on holidays. I think it is quite evident that if we had sought to bring in a larger Amendment which would have limited the hours of children during holiday time, it would have been ruled out as beyond the scope of the Clause; and in any case the children on holiday have not the further burden of their educational activities.
I would also reply to what fell from the learned Attorney-General, that only two years ago this House passed a Measure allowing young children to work for 48 hours a week, that that was unaccompanied by study, and we are considering now what is a reasonable period alongside certain specified and approved study. With regard to what was said as to what may be in a forthcoming Factory Bill, I can conceive a situation when the very argument that has been used tonight, that this is an Education Bill and that therefore you cannot bring in hours of labour, might apply in an inverted sense if we were to leave over the consideration of these children that are receiving part education until that time. It would be said, "This is a Factory Bill, and you cannot bring in these educational considerations here." Suppose you find in your Factory Bill an exact limit of the hours that a child should work in ordinary circumstances, that does not meet the case of the child who, in addition to working these hours, is supposed to be carrying on education also. Then, in regard to the Factory Act, I would recall what happened during a former Government, when we were constantly promised a Factory Bill. I refer to the Government between 1924 and 1929. Questions regarding a Factory Bill were as constantly put forward then as are questions regarding the Unemployment Regulations now, and the Federation of British Industries asserted their authority, and we were told, even by some on the Government side of the House, as it then was, who were very favourable to that Factory Bill, that it had to be withdrawn.
1960 One point more. The hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mrr. Orr-Ewing) said that these figures had been arbitrarily fixed at eight o'clock and six o'clock. These would be very appropriate hours for various reasons in my own country, and I think they would be here also, but it does not need a great stretch of the imagination to see why 40 hours are put in. It is well known that in the International Labour Office at Geneva most of the nations have been desirous of putting on their programme the discussion of a convention for a working week of 40 hours for adults. It is true that our Government have opposed that, but when the great mass of the nations at Geneva are fixing on 40 hours as suitable for adult labour, it is surely a very small modicum to consider that 40 hours would be a sufficient time of work for young children, especially when they have to carry on certain educational activities at the same time. For these reasons I strongly support the Amendment.
§ 9.52 p.m.
§ Mr. MARKLEW
I have been listening to the discussion all the time and turning over the various arguments to find out how they would apply to my constituency. I represent a textile constituency, which will be affected very seriously indeed by the passing of this Measure. It happens to be one in which there is certainly no surplus of labour at the moment, if there is not actually a shortage so far as some kinds of skilled textile work are concerned. Indeed, in adjoining constituencies, though not in my own, that shortage is so great that, resort is being had to the expedient of importing juvenile labour from the North-East Coast for the purpose of training in the mills and factories of that locality. Bearing in mind the circumstances, that at any rate there is an insufficiency of juvenile labour in the neighbourhood for the predominant industry there, I ask myself what will be the attitude of book education authorities towards applicants for exemption in circumstances like that, and I cannot do other than come to the conclusion that they will certainly be tempted very strongly to grant exemptions on a wholesale scale. That will happen in my neighbourhood, but in other neighbourhoods you may find more enlightened authorities, labouring under less pressure from the industrial magnates in their own locality, who will net be disposed to grant 1961 exemptions quite so readily, with the result that we shall have one locality competing against another and indeed complaining against another because of the attitude taken up by one education authority providing a sufficiency of juvenile labour to exploit in one area and an insufficiency as a consequence in another area.
That does not seem to me to be in accordance with the principles on which this Bill is supposed to be based. I am making a confession when I say that I believe it is the desire of the Government that there should be as few exemptions as possible, but surely they can see that if the exemptions are to be limited, some discouragement rather than encouragement must be given to those local educational authorities who may have strong temptations to grant every application for exemption that is put forward. Again, looking at the matter from the point of view of those in my constituency, that constituency is one that, although it is experiencing rather better times at the moment so far as employment is concerned, has suffered very severely indeed over the past three or four years, with the consequence that the workers there are depleted of any reserve resources. They are poor now, and although they have more work than they had formerly, their conditions of employment are so very bad that even while fully employed they are not earning a sufficiency of wages to keep themselves in decency and comfort. Even when fully employed they may be described as being very poor, and the temptation on their part will be all the greater to apply for their children to be exempted. In short, all the circumstances will be of such a character that not only will exemptions be readily granted, but they will be greedily asked for in localities where it is extremely desirable from the point of vew of the children that they should not be granted, because these poorer classes of parents, having experienced the poverty of years—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is now arguing the merits of exemptions, or otherwise. That is not the Amendment before the House.
§ Mr. MARKLEW
I was trying to link the point up with the question of the hours that will have to be worked. Possibly I may have strayed, in my 1962 enthusiasm for the interests of the child. Let me come to the question of the hours. I was trying to point out that the condition of the child, the condition of the parents and the pressure upon the authorities will be such that the interests of the child will be injuriously affected, unless some limitation is placed upon the hours which the child may be allowed to work. It has been suggested by the Noble Lord opposite that there is something in the nature of impracticability to limit the hours of child labour to 40 a week. That reminds me of the fact that I have never heard from the benches opposite one single speech which has attempted to argue that 40 hours is an excessive number of hours to work. I have heard lots of people say that if they could see the practicability of limiting the hours to 40 a week, they would very gladly join with us in supporting the proposals embodied in our Amendment. We have plenty of sympathy, but I am afraid that we shall receive very little expression of that sympathy when it, comes to the giving of votes.
I am speaking from experience, and a little experience is worth a ton of theory. I know something about the way in which these matters can be worked. Surely, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility in the industry with which I am particularly concerned, the textile industry, to provide an opportunity for the child to get reasonable education in the time when it is not at work, combined with a moderate number of hours in employment for the purpose of earning a little wage. That is not outside the scope of possibility. The factories are now working six days a week. If we limited the hours to a maximum of 40—there is no suggestion in the Amendment that the hours should be a minimum of 40—then I could conceive arrangements being made by employers that would allow them to employ boys and girls, where it was thought necessary or desirable, for the first three days or the last three days of the week, and the remaining days would provide the opportunity which we all desire for them to continue their education, if not in the ordinary way at a day school, at a continuation school. I hesitate to make that recommendation because of the bitter experience in my own life of what half-time labour means. However, I willingly make that suggestion. Not being able to get 1963 all that we desire on these benches I desire to get the best that we can possibly secure. If the Minister will only look at the matter from a reasonable point of view concerning the interests of the child, and not continuously concentrating upon the interests of the employer and the requirements of industry, he will see his way to promise us if not the acceptance of this particular Amendment some similar Amendment that will meet us half way in the direction in which we wish to go.
§ 9.59 p.m.
Mr. E; EVANS
The matter which has received the attention of the House on this Amendment is one which can be dealt with one of two ways. One way in which the Government are dealing with it is the way which is imposed upon them by the nature of the Bill. I have for many years, here and elsewhere, advocated raising the school age, and I am a little surprised that so much of the time of the House on the Report stage should have been spent in connection with an Amendment of this character. This Bill imposes upon the local authority the obligation of determining not only whether employment will be beneficial and not only that they shall have regard to the immediate benefit of the child but also that they shall have regard to the prospective benefit of the child. Where the local authority is called upon to consider the prospective benefit of the child in connection with any employment, that authority is bound to take into consideration the question of paragraph (a), which includes the hours of work. When we remember that we are dealing with children of immature years with regard to employment, then it seems to me that the Amendment is not asking for anything extreme when it limits the hours in the way suggested.
There is another way of dealing with the matter, and that is the way suggested by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy). He was good enough to tell the House that he was surprised that nobody who was interested in the Bill had gone to the trouble of putting down, an Amendment to incorporate the principle which he had advocated for years, namely, the principle of two years at a continuation school. There is a good deal to be said for that 1964 proposal, but when I heard the Noble Lord express his surprise I could not help turning to the back of the Bill, where I found that the Bill was not only presented by Mr. Stanley but supported by Lord Eustace Percy, who was a Member of the Government and responsible for the thinking department of the Government at the time when the Bill was introduced. If instead of making that speech to-day he had made it to the Cabinet, he would have clone good service to the country.
§ 10.3 p.m.
§ Mr. E. J. WILLIAMS
I have been surprised at the inconsistencies of Members on the other side of the House. All their earlier Amendments have obviously endeavoured to lay the emphasis upon the industrial side and have been concerned with employment rather than education. We on this side have endeavoured to place the emphasis on education. Mr. Speaker ruled out an Amendment under which that emphasis which has laid an additional charge upon the rates, but we had a very lengthy Debate and were able to hear expressions from the other side of the House. The statements that have been made by hon. Members opposite clearly indicate that they are certainly not concerned about the child and not concerned about education. They are concerned about the employer obtaining cheap labour and to engage labour for the longest possible time at the cheapest possible price.
One would have thought that the Noble Lord and most hon. Members would have agreed that the younger the child is the shorter should be its working week. One would have thought that even the most retrogressive type of man would have conceived that to have been the most humane thing to do. But deducing from the remarks of the Noble Lord one gathered that it is impracticable for this principle to be applied to children at 14, because they are obliged to work longer hours beyond 15. The substance of most of the speeches that we have heard can be interpreted in those terms. I trust the Minister will appreciate that if he is to obtain the maximum educational value from the children it is essential, whether in continuation classes, in accordance with the administrative work of his Department, or by any other means, that these children must be kept 1965 in the fittest physical state to imbibe the ideas or the knowledge that may have to be placed before them from time to time. It is essential in these days that the tendency should be towards a lower working week, and surely 40 hours per week in this mechanised age is quite enough for any young child to have to work, particularly a child under 15 years of age. In my constituency we are not confronted with the conditions which the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. Logan) has outlined, because we are a mining constituency; nevertheless, we are faced with the fact that the young people in our mining areas are going to places like Slough. The Minister certainly ought to prohibit children who are taken from depressed areas working more than 40 hours in any week. When we have 2,000,000 unemployed he ought not to permit employers of labour to exploit small children.
It is high time the right hon. Gentleman accepted an Amendment of this kind or called the Bill a juvenile employment Bill rather than an education Bill. For the whole of the evening we have had
§ employment stressed time after time, and now that we are endeavouring to limit the number of hours which small children shall work in any industry, hon. Members opposite begin to talk about education. It is impossible for a child to be properly educated in a continuation school if it has to work more than 40 hours per week. The type of speech we have heard to-night is the type that was delivered 100 years ago, in 1840, when children were taken from their homes into factories upon a relay system, and housed in institutions. It is high time hon. Members opposite should realise the gravity of this problem, that small children can be sweated by employers and made to work for any hours they like for a mere pittance, because it is impossible for parents in this time of adversity to resist the temptation to allow their children to be engaged for long hours by unscrupulous employers.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 126; Noes, 220.1967
|Division No. 207.]||AYES.||[10.10 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Grenfell, D. R.||Montague, F.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddi'sbro, W.)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Morrlson, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Adamson, W. M.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Muff, G.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'Itbr.)||Groves, T. E.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Amnion, C. G.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Paling, W.|
|Astor, Visc'tess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Hurdle, G. D.||Parker, H. J. H.|
|Attlec, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Potts, J.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Prltt, D. N.|
|Barr, J.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Qulbell, D. J. K.|
|Batey, J.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Unlv's.)|
|Bellenger, F.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Rlley, B.|
|Benson, G.||Hollins, A.||Ritson,|
|Bevan, A.||Hopkin, D.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Broad, F. A.||Jagger, J.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Bromfield, W.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Rowson, G.|
|Brooke, W.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Buchanan, G.||John, W.||Shinwell, E.|
|Burke, W. A.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Sllkin, L.|
|Cape, T.||Jones, A. C. (Shipiey)||Smith, Ben (Rotherhlthe)|
|Cassells, T.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphllly)||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Chater, D.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees (K'ly)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Klrby, B. V.||Stephen, C.|
|Compton, J.||Klrkwood, D.||Stewart, W. J. (H-ghfn-ie-Sp'ng)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lawson, J. J.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Crlpps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Leach, W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Daggar, G.||Leonard, W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Davles, D. L. (Pontyprldd)||Leslie, J. R.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Davles, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Logan, D. G.||Vlant, S. P.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Lunn, W.||Walker, J.|
|Ede, J. C.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Watson, W. McL.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||McGhee, H. G.||Westwood, J.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||MacLaren, A.||Williams, O. (Swansea, E.)|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Maclean, N.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Frankel, D.||Macmlllan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wilson, C. H. (Attercllffe)|
|Gallacher, W.||MacNelll, Weir, L.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Marklew, E.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Gibbins, J.||Mathers, G.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Maxton, J.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Messer, F.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Milner, Major J.||Mr. Charleton and Mr. Whiteley.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Gledhill, G.||Penny, Sir G.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Glucksteln, L. H.||Percy, Rt Hon. Lord E.|
|Agnew, Lieut. -Comdr, P. G.||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Albory, I. J.||Goodman, Col. A. W.||Petherick, M.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Plckthorn, K. W. M.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Pllklngton, R.|
|Assheton, R.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Alter, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Grlmston, R. V.||Porrltt, R. W.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Grltten, W. G. Howard||Radford, E. A.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Ralkes, H. V. A. M.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Guy, J. C. M.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Bainlel, Lord||Hamilton, Sir G. C.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Hanbury, Sir C.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Hannah, I. C.||Rankin, R.|
|Belt, Sir A. L.||Harbord, A.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmln)|
|Blrchall, Sir J. D.||Hartington, Marquess of||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Bllndell, Sir J.||Harvey, G.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Kaslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Helpers, Captain F. F. A.||Reid, W. Allen (Derby)|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Heneage, Lleut.-Colonel A. P.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buehan.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Brltcoe, Capt. R. G.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Herbert, Captain S. (Abbey)||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'ndtrry)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Holdsworth, H.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Brown, Brig. -Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Holmes, J. S.||Rowlands, G.|
|Bull, B. B.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Rugglcs-Brlse, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Burghley, Lord||Kopkinson, A.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Cary, R. A.||Hudson, Capt. A. O. M. (Hack., N.)||Salt, E. W.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Channon, H.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Hunter, T.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Christle, J. A.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Savery, Servington|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Jackson, Sir H.||Scott, Lord William|
|Cobb, Sir C. S.||James, Wing-Commander A. W.||Selley, H. R.|
|Colman, N. C. O.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J.||Joel, D. J. B.||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.|
|Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S.G'gs)||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lt'st),|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Smiles, Lleut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Craddock, Sir R. H.||Latham, Sir p.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Smith, sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Crltchley, A.||Leckie, J. A.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Crooke, J. S.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Lelghton, Major B. E. P.||Spender-Clay Lt.-CI. Rt. Hn. H. H.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Levy, T.||Spens, W. P|
|Crossley, A. C.||Llddall, W. S.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Lindsay, K. M.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'mld)|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Lloyd, G. W.||Storey, S.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.||Lyons, A. M.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil)||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Drewe, C.||MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.)||Sutcllffe, H.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Macdonald, Capt. p. (Isle of Wight)||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Makins, Brlg.-Gen. E.||Taylor, vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Dugdale, Major T. L.||Mannlngham-Buller, Sir M.||Titchfleld, Marquess of|
|Duggan, H. J.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Touche, G. C.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Markham, S. F.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Eckcrsley, P. T.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Wallace, Captain Euan|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Ward, Irena (Wallsend)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Moore, Lieut. -Col. T. C. R.||Wells, S. R.|
|Emery, J. F.||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Emrys- Evans, P. v.||Moreing, A. C.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Entwistle, C. F.||Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)||Windsor Clive, Lieut. -Colonel G.|
|Ersklne Hill, A. G.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.||Wlnterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Fildes, Sir H.||Mulrhead, Lt-Col. A. J.||Womersiey, Sir W. J.|
|Flndlay, Sir E.||Munro, P.||Wragg, H.|
|Fleming, E. L.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Furness, S. N.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G.|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ganzonl, Sir J.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward|
|Gibson, C. G.||Patrick, C. M.||and Lieut.-Colonel Llewellin.|
|Glimour, Lt.-col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Peake, O.|
§ 10.18 p.m.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 7, to leave out from "authority," to "and," in line 11, and to insert: 1968shall, as a condition precedent to the grant of a certificate, require such undertakings from the employer as they think necessary—In moving this Amendment, it would, perhaps, be for the convenience of the House if I were also able to deal with an Amendment in my name further down, to leave out Sub-section (6). I think the best way in which I can explain the purpose of this Amendment is by referring first to the existing plan of this Bill as far as it deals with the conditions regulating the exemptions and their enforcement. As orginally drafted, the Bill provided for two alternative methods of enforcement. One was to get from the employer an undertaking covering any of the conditions which regulated the exemption, and if the conditions of that undertaking were broken, it was possible under Sub-section (6) to prosecute the employer in the Courts. The alternative method was not to get an undertaking but simply to state what the conditions were, and, if those conditions were not observed, to withdraw the exemption certificate.
- (a) in connection with all or any of the matters mentioned in paragraphs (a) (b)
1969 and (c) of the last preceding Subsection;
- (b) for enabling the authority to satisfy themselves that the employment has not, by reason of any change in the conditions of the employment or for any other reasons, ceased to be beneficial to the child"
In Committee an Amendment was moved, I think by the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), to make it imperative on the local authority in every case to exact an undertaking from the employer. The reason which he gave was, I thought, a very good one namely that it was invidious to ask the local authority to choose who were the bad employers from whom they should exact undertakings and who were the good employers in regard to whom they could rest upon the conditions and the power to withdraw the exemption. As an argument against his Amendment, I pointed out that if you made the undertaking mandatory it meant that every employer would subject himself to police-court proceedings for slight infringements of the undertaking and I felt that we did not want the large number of employers in this country to be put in that position. The hon. Member then made a suggestion which I think found general favour in the Committee, namely, that there was no object in retaining the penalty provision and that he and his friends would be prepared to see Sub-section (6) dropped—in which case no police-court 1970 proceedings would be possible—if the undertaking were made mandatory and not permissive.
I undertook to consider that suggestion. I have done so, and I have come to the conclusion that it is the best course to adopt. With the present permissive power, the local authorities might be put in an invidious position and it might be made difficult for them to get an undertaking at all. I therefore consider that the best thing to do is what this Amendment proposes, that is, to make it necessary for the authority to get what undertaking they think necessary in every case. The sanction, if that undertaking is not observed, is to be the withdrawal of the certificate and of the child from the employment. I took the opportunity when drafting this Amendment to insert a new paragraph (b) the purpose of which I may explain. Obviously discussions will have to take place before the appointed day as to the method of inspection which local authorities will adopt. I do not wish to elaborate the various methods they may use or the officers whom they may employ, but I want to make certain that, before those discussions take place we shall know that whatever method be selected, there shall be statutory authority for carrying it out. I achieve that purpose in paragraph (b) by making it a part of the undertaking that an employer shall allow facilities to properly authorised officers of local education authorities to carry out the duties of inspection. I believe that this Amendment commends itself in all parts of the House and I hope it will be accepted without a Division.
§ 10.24 p.m.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
The right hon. Gentleman has given an account of the discussion on this matter in Committee and has explained why Members on one side were willing, so to speak, to put in the word "shall" in this connection, while Members on the other side were willing to agree to the omission of Subsection (6). I need only say that these two Amendments carry out the agreement which was reached in Committee, and for that reason we shall support them.
§ 10.25 p.m.
Sir F. AC LAND
I took some part in the discussion on this question in Committee, and I should like to thank the Minister for reconsidering the matter and 1971 coming to the conclusion of which he has told us. We agreed that there was a further matter which would deter the employer from breaking the agreement into which he had entered which would make the penalty unnecessary, namely, that his certificate would be cancelled and that the authority would be careful in future to see that he would not have the chance of doing the same thing again.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: In page 3, line 13, leave out Sub-section (6)—[Mr. Stanley.]
§ 10.26 p.m.
§ Mr. ORR-EWING
I beg to move, in page 3, line 18, at the end, to insert:(7) Before granting a certificate relating to employment which would exempt a child from school attendance for six months or longer the issuing authority shall require an undertaking from the parent or guardian of the child that a medical certificate will be produced reporting on the health of the child during the fourth month of employment.We have concentrated in this Bill in dealing with the question of exemptions, on trying to legislate to see that the employment should be beneficial to the child. This Amendment merely implements the suggested undertaking as to the beneficial nature of the employment. It is only fair to say that this Amendment should now be read in conjunction with the new paragraph (b) to which the House has just agreed, because in that provision a duty is laid upon the local education authority as a condition precedent to the grant of a certificate that they should be able to take stepsto satisfy themselves that the employment has not, by reason of any change in the conditions of the employment or for any other reasons, ceased to be beneficial to the child.This Amendment proposes to carry that one stage further and to supply the means by which the local authority can ascertain whether the employment has or has not been beneficial. I am not proposing to be rigid as regards the actual wording in respect of time, but it occurs to me that a child which has received a certificate of exemption from school and has gone into employment may suffer a state of semi-ill-health owing to the novelty of the situation having worn off by something like the fourth month, when 1972 the natural condition of the child will have become apparent. If the employment is to last for a greater time than six months, which one may call the exempted period, the fourth month would be about the right time for the medical test to be made to ascertain whether the child has suffered in ill-health because of the employment.
I should have liked to have moved the Amendment in a different form in order to arrange that the child should be medically examined at school at the same time as the children who have not been exempted are being medically examined, in order that some fair comparison could be made. Under the terms of the Financial Resolution governing the Bill that would have meant imposing an additional charge, and therefore it would have been out of order, and I have had to choose the only alternative means which I can find to see that there is some medical examination. It seems to me, I use the word advisedly, to be something in the nature of humbug to be so very careful to take steps to see that the employment should be beneficial if we are not prepared to take the step that really matters to prove whether the employment has been beneficial or not.
It might be argued that once a child has been exempted from school the health of that child is not the particular care of the education authority, but more primarly that of the parent. I think it is fair to answer that the child will still be technically under the care of the education authority, because should the employment certificate be cancelled for any reason, and assuming that the child does not enter alternative employment under a new certificate, it will have to return to school, or at least will come under the control of the education authority. It is quite possible, too, that many parents are not fully aware of the physical effects of employment on young children entering industry. I think any hon. Member who has had experience of the employment of children in industry must be aware of many cases in which a normally healthy child has found its way into a type of employment which has affected either its body or its mind very adversely, and in such cases it would he greatly to the benefit of the child if it could be removed from that particular employment, because quite conceivably it might find itself perfectly happy in other employment. I 1973 would urge the Minister to give us some explanation of how he would apply the test of "beneficial" to the employment —apart from the pecuniary reward, and having regard to the physical condition of the child—by any other means than some step such as I suggest; and also to explain why we should not interlock something of what is contained in the Amendment with what is contained in paragraph (b) which we have just inserted.
§ 10.33 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander AGNEW
I beg to second the Amendment.
I regard this as an additional safeguard which we ought to insert in the Bill when considering the conditions under which children may be exempted from attendance at school. Although an employer may have loyally observed all the conditions which must be abserved preparatory to the child taking up employment, after the child has been at work for two or three months its health, at that early, transitional age, may not be able to stand up to the strain. Therefore, it is wise to have an additional safeguard of this kind. It may be said that the bringing of these children within the Health Insurance scheme would achieve this purpose, but I think a categorical certificate from the parent would effect the purpose much better.
§ 10.35 p.m.
I fully sympathise with the object which my hon. Friends have, in putting forward the Amendment, but the Amendment is not one which I can accept. The method which they have adopted, owing to the exigencies of Parliamentary draftsmanship, is unworkable. It puts the obligation upon the parent to get a certificate from the doctor, but in a great many cases you cannot expect a parent, who will receive no reimbursement for his expenditure, to get a thorough examination of a child, and the sort of certificate which he would obtain under such a system would hardly be worth the paper it was written on.
I agree that we ought to follow up these children, and not merely decide that the employment is suitable for their health at the beginning. We should make sure that it remains suitable for their health later on. I suggest that I have already taken the proper step 1974 at the moment by inserting the provision in the undertaking to give access to any properly constituted authority for the purpose of inspection. We might, at a later stage, discuss with local authorities how an eye can be kept upon the future health of these children, and what steps can be taken if it becomes apparent that a particular job is proving detrimental to health. There is the further promise that the age of National Health Insurance will be lowered. I fully sympathise with the object of the Amendment, but the method I cannot regard as practicable or workable, and for that reason I am not able to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. ORR-EWING
In view of the statement which the Minister has made as to a future consultation with local authorities to decide the steps to be taken in following up the health of the children, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.