HC Deb 26 May 1936 vol 312 cc1974-7

10.37 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 4, line 7, after "effect," to insert: (a) if the child in respect of whom it was granted to the employer does not enter the employment of that employer within twenty-one days after the date stated in the certificate as the date from which the certificate is to have effect; and (b) This, again, is an Amendment to meet a point which was raised in Committee, I think, by the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). It concerns the case of an exemption certificate granted in respect of a child where, for some reason or other, the employment has not been taken up. The Amendment ensures that unless the employment is taken up within three weeks of the dating of the granting of the exemption certificate, the certificate will be deemed to have lapsed and will be cancelled.


I thank the right hon. Gentleman very sincerely for meeting a point which will very considerably ease the administration of the Measure.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made, in line 7, leave out from "child," to "ceases," in line 8.—[Mr. Stanley.]

10.39 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 4, line 20, at the end, to insert: (3) If any person notifies the issuing authority that there is reason to believe that a certificate should be cancelled in pursuance of the foregoing Sub-section, it shall be the duty of the authority to direct that inquiries be made, and to cancel the certificate if any condition under which the certificate was granted is not being observed. In order to assist the Government to get this stage of the Bill, I will detain the House for not more than a minute or two. The purpose of the Amendment is clear from a cursory reading of it. We are anxious that, when a certificate has been issued to an employer in respect of the employment of a child, the conditions on which it has been issued shall be properly fulfilled, and, in order to provide a guarantee as far as possible that the conditions are being properly fulfilled, we have put down this Amendment. Obviously, it will be primarily the duty of the local authority to see that the conditions of the certificate are being fulfilled, but of course in some areas it will be a very big task for the local authorities to keep in touch with every single instance, and therefore we thought it not inappropriate that persons like social investigators coming across instances of obvious violation of the conditions should be able to report them to the local authority, so that action might follow.

10.42 p.m.


It is quite true, as the hon. Member has said, that the purpose underlying the Amendment is clear, but I am afraid that its actual meaning would be rather more complicated. It is already, of course, under the Bill, the duty of the local authority, having imposed conditions, to see that those conditions are carried out, and, if they are not carried out, to take the appropriate remedy, which is to withdraw the certificate. Even without this Amendment, it would be a clear breach of the authority's duty if, evidence having been given, that a breach was in fact occurring, no steps were taken either to inquire or to enforce the penalty. But the hon. Member will see that the Amendment contains no provision which would safeguard the local authority with regard to at any rate the prima facie reasonableness of the statement which is made. If the Amendment were passed it would be the duty of the authority to investigate every allegation that was made, however little foundation there might be for it. Anyone who had a grudge against a neighbour could go to the authority and say that he was employing a boy under conditions which he was breaking, and the authority would have to investigate the case at once. The case having been investigated, the same man might make the same complaint the next day, and they would have to investigate it again. I am sure that that is not the hon. Member's intention. The Amendment as drafted would put a quite unnecessary strain on the administration. It is the duty of the authority, as the Bill now stands, when reasonable evidence is brought to them that a breach of the conditions has occurred, to investigate it, and I do not think the Amendment really adds anything to the duty which already exists.


I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for giving us a little information as to the implications of the Amendment. We thought that, in drafting these words, we had done our best to assist the Government, but I see the point, and should be very glad if the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether more appropriate words could be put in in another place. If that is not possible, I am afraid we cannot ask the House to divide on the Amendment, and accordingly I beg to ask leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move, in page 4, line 28, after "ceasing," to insert, "by virtue of the provisions of this section."

This is a machinery Amendment. At the present moment it is an obligation on the employer to return the employment certificate when it lapses, but the only importance of that is when the certificate lapses either because it has been revoked or because Vie child has left the employment. We Rio not want to put upon the employer a duty to return the certificate when it has lapsed in the ordinary course because the child has reached the age of 15. I do not think the local authorities will want to receive 1,000 exemption certificates—


Are there going to be 1,000?


In the country as a whole. According to the hon. Member, there will be 100,000, so I am dividing his estimate by 100.

Amendment agreed to.