HC Deb 22 July 1937 vol 326 cc2392-3
30. Mr. Banfield

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has received the report of the committee of inquiry into night baking; what is the reason for the delay in presenting the report; and what action he proposes to take on the matter?

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Samuel Hoare)

The report of this committee was only received on Tuesday of last week, and as the hon. Member will be aware, was presented to Parliament on the following Thursday. As regards the last part of the question, the committee, by a majority, have advised against any statutory prohibition of night baking. Shortly stated, their view is that while such prohibition would work inequitably among employers and inflict hardship in many cases including a number of bakeries where the work is carried on under the best conditions, it would fall far short of providing comprehensive and effective relief to the night baker from the serious social disadvantages under which he labours. The situation as presented in the report obviously demands a much more thorough examination than it has been possible to make within the very short time available, and I am not in a position at present to make any final announcement of the Government views on the main issue. It is clear however that in view of the nature of the report it would not in any case be possible for the Government to entertain any question of legislation on the subject during the present Session.

At the end of their report the committee draw attention to the need for better organisation in this industry and suggest that some recognised body should be set up on which representatives of both sides of the trade might meet together to thrash out their difficulties and devise means for amelioration of conditions. The Government regard this suggestion as a very valuable one and are prepared to take action to give effect to it, and I am glad to state that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour will be willing to enter into negotiations with the representatives of the two sides for this purpose without delay. I feel confident that if some satisfactory joint machinery can be established we could look forward to a great improvement in the general conditions of the industry.

Mr. Banfield

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this report has caused a tremendous amount of disappointment among both workmen and employers; and, in view of that, and of the fact that public opinion is also disappointed, will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to go very seriously into the report and see whether something cannot be done to help these unfortunate people who are condemned to perpetual night work?

Sir S. Hoare

I agree with the hon. Member that this is a very important report. Indeed, it is so important that the Government obviously cannot come to a decision in a few days. I can give the hon. Member an undertaking that we will give the report great attention, and when we have come to a decision in due course I will make an announcement in the House.