HC Deb 27 July 1937 vol 326 cc3021-51

Order read for Consideration of Lords Amendments.

11.10 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)

I beg to move, "That the Lords Amendments be now considered."

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is in attendance on the King, and it falls. to the Lord Advocate and me to explain the Lords Amendments. They look rather a formidable body of Amendments, but I think that the House will agree that that is inevitable in such an exceptionally large Bill. The majority of the Amendments are purely drafting, but we will give an assurance that whenever there is any substance in any of them we will bring them to the attention of the House.

Lords Amendments considered accordingly.

CLAUSE 2.—(Overcrowding.)

Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 7, leave out from "that" to the end of line 35 and insert:" if the chief inspector is satisfied that owing to the special conditions under which the work is carried on in any workroom in which explosive materials are manufactured or handled, the application of the provisions of this subsection to that workroom would be inappropriate or unnecessary, he may by certificate except the workroom from those provisions subject to any conditions specified in the certificate. (3) As respects any room used as a workroom at the date of the passing of this Act the last foregoing subsection shall, for the period of five years after that date and, if before the expiration of that period effective and suitable mechanical ventilation has been provided in the room, for a further period of five years, have effect as if for the reference therein to four hundred cubic feet there were substituted a reference to two hundred and fifty cubic feet: Provided that this Sub-section shall cease to apply to the room— (a) if the room passes into the occupation of any person other than the person who was the occupier thereof at the passing of this Act, or his successor in the same business; or (b) if, during the first of the said periods, the inspector for the district requires the provision of effective and suitable mechanical ventilation in the room and default is made in complying with the requirement; or (c) if, during the second of the said periods or in a case where it has been provided in pursuance of the inspector's requirement during either of those periods, the effective and suitable mechanical ventilation provided in the room ceases to be maintained.

11.12 p.m.

The Lord Advocate (Mr. T. M. Cooper)

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The object of this Amendment is to rearrange and re-state the provisions of Sub-sections (2) and (3) of the overcrowding Clause. There is no alteration in substance.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 32, line 11, agreed to.

CLAUSE 34.—(Means of escape in case of fire.)

Lords Amendment: In page 33, line 8, leave out "may" and insert "shall."

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

11.16 p.m.

The Lord Advocate

As the Bill was drawn when the district council require that new provisions should be made as regards means of escape from fire it was optional for the council to amend the certificate they had granted or to issue a new certificate. It has been thought desirable that they should be required to amend the certificate or to issue a new certificate and "may" is to be changed to "shall."

Lords Amendment: In page 33, line 31, after "appeal," insert "by way of complaint."

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

11.17 p.m.

The Lord Advocate

The object of this Amendment is to make it plain that there may be an appeal on complaint to a court of summary jurisdiction.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 35, line 5, agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 35, line 11, at the end, insert: Provided that this paragraph shall not apply to any such factory or part thereof if, since the means of escape were provided, any action has been taken of which notice would, if this Section had been in force and a certificate had been granted there under, have been required to be given to the council.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

11.19 p.m.

The Lord Advocate

This proviso occurs in the Clause dealing with the means of escape in case of fire, and in that part of it which relates to the Administrative County of London. Its purpose is to apply within the Administrative County of London Sub-section (5) of the Clause, the purpose of which is shortly this: If any material alteration is made in any premises which requires notice to be given, then any previous notice given to the council shall fall and require to be revised. The effect of the Amendment is to bring the Administrative County of London into line with the rest of the country.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 37, line 9, agreed to.

CLAUSE 41.—(Supply of drinking water.)

Lords Amendment: In page 39, line 7, at the end, insert: such approval not to be withheld except on the ground of the unwholesomeness of the water.

Motion made, and. Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

11.20 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment deals with a small point concerning the supply of drinking water. It can be obtained either from a public main or another approved source, and the local authority is to be the judge. It is thought that the only proper ground on which a local authority should disapprove the alternative source of supply was that of its unwholesomeness. Certain fears had been expressed that the authority might act from other considerations, for instance that they might take the view that the water ought to be taken from their own supply.

11.21 p.m.

Miss Wilkinson

Might I point out with regard to that that there might be other implications in those words? A water supply might be quite wholesome, yet have a very nasty taste, and the employés might object very strongly to the supply being regarded as adequate drinking water. If this Amendment is agreed to, such employés would have no ground for going to the local authority.

Mr. Lloyd

I think the words "unwholesomeness of the water" make reasonable provision for such cases.

CLAUSE 42.—(Washing facilities.)

Lords Amendment: In page 39, line 20, leave out the Clause, and insert:

NEW CLAUSE A.—(Washing facilities.) —(1) There shall be provided and maintained for the use of employed persons adequate and suitable facilities for washing which shall include soap and clean towels or other suitable means of cleaning or drying, and the facilities shall be conveniently accessible and shall be kept in a clean and orderly condition. (2) The Secretary of State may by regulations prescribe, either generally or as respects any class or description of factory or as respects the persons employed in any process, a standard of adequate and suitable washing facilities. (3) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide for the exemption of factories from any of the requirements of this section in cases where by reason of the difficulty of obtaining an adequate supply of water, or the fact that accommodation is restricted and adequate and suitable washing facilities are otherwise conveniently available, or such other special circumstances as may be specified in the regulations, the application of the requirement would in his opinion be unreasonable. (4) This section shall come into operation on the first day of July, nineteen hundred and thirty-nine: Provided that, as respects persons employed in any process in which lead, arsenic or any other poisonous substance is used, or any process prescribed by the Secretary of State, being a process liable to cause dermatitis or any other affection of the skin, this section shall come into operation at the commencement of this Act.

Mr. Lloyd

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This new Clause is to give effect to the undertaking given by my right hon. Friend upon the Report stage. At that time the provision was that washing facilities should be provided in the case of a number of categories of factories, but the view taken by the House was that the provision should be a general one, laying down that it was necessary to have washing facilities generally, and giving my right hon. Friend power to exempt in certain circumstances. Therefore, the new Clause is framed exactly on the lines that the Home Secretary expressed in the House at the conclusion of that Debate. I do not think it is necessary for me to say any more.

Mr. Rhys Davies

I think I speak on behalf of my hon. Friends when I say that we welcome the proposed new Clause as a great improvement. We are, however, intrigued on the small point raised in the following words: There shall be provided and maintained for the use of employed persons adequate and suitable facilities for washing which shall include soap and clean towels or other suitable means of cleaning or drying. How can a person have suitable washing facilities unless he uses soap and clean towels?

Mr. Lloyd

I think I can satisfy the hon. Gentleman on that point. One of the modern methods of drying the hands—it is in use in the United States, particularly—employed in some factories is a machine which produces a large volume of quickly moving hot air. That is on the point with regard to towels. With regard to soap, it is a fact that certain types of grease are not amenable to removal by the simple use of soap and water, and they require a soda solution or a detergent solution.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 39, line 34, agreed to.

CLAUSE 43.—(Accommodation for clothing.)

Lords Amendment: In page 39, line 36, leave out Sub-section (2) and insert: (2) The Secretary of State may by regulations prescribe, either generally or as respects any class or description of factory, a standard of suitable accommodation for such clothing and of arrangements for drying such clothing. (3) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide for the exemption of factories from any of the requirements of this section in cases where by reason of such special circumstances as may be specified in the regulalations the application of the requirement would in his opinion be unreasonable.

11.24 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment simply brings the exemption with regard to accommodation into line with the exemption with regard to washing facilities. In fact, it rather strengthens the provision by substituting regulations for orders.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 43, line 1, agreed to.

CLAUSE 48.—(Washing facilities and meals in certain dangerous trades.)

Lords Amendment: In page 43, line 13, at the end, insert: other than intervals allowed in the course of a spell of continuous employment.

11.26 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

It will be remembered that it is necessary under this Clause that the work-people should leave the workplace when lead and arsenic compounds are being used in manufacturing processes; but under the Clause as it stands it would be necessary that they should go out even during a 10 minutes interval under the rest spell provision. Clearly it would be quite wrong to force people to go out during that 10 minutes, which, in some factories, would be only the time required to get them out and bring them back again, and therefore they would lose the benefit of the rest spell.

CLAUSE 49.—(Protection of eyes in certain processes.)

Lords Amendment: In page 43, line 36, after "shall," insert: in accordance with any directions given by the regulations.

11.27 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Broad) raised the point, when we were discussing a new Clause on Report, that screens should be allowed to be prescribed by the Home Secretary, as well as goggles, for protecting the eyes. We found on examination that we had not actual power to prescribe screens, and we are taking it by means of this Amendment.

Subsequent Lords Amendments, to page 46, line 25, agreed to.

CLAUSE 53.—(Underground rooms.)

Lords Amendment: In page 46, line 36, leave out "one month," and insert "twenty-one days."

11.28 p.m.

The Lord Advocate

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The purpose of this Amendment is to make the time limit for taking appeals the same under the provisions of the Clause relating to underground rooms as it is in certain other Clauses of the Bill. Some criticism was made on this point during the previous stages of the Bill.

Subsequent Lords Amendments, to page 46, line 39, agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 46, line 40, at the end, insert: "in the case of a room in actual use."

11.29 p.m.

The Lord Advocate

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The provisions of the Bill as drafted allow an underground room to be in continual use notwithstanding the fact that an appeal has been taken to determine whether it should be used. It has been thought desirable that that privilege should be confined to the case where the underground room is actually in use when the appeal is taken, and should not be extended to cover the case where an underground room has not been in use but is proposed to be brought into use. In such a case it is thought appropriate that the occupier of the underground room should not bring it into use until after the appeal has been heard and he has been found entitled to do so. We are, therefore, strengthening the Bill in that respect.

CLAUSE 54.—(Basement bakehouses.)

Lords Amendment: In page 47, line 38, leave out "until their next examination of the bakehouse" and insert: so long as the bakehouse may otherwise lawfully be used, but without prejudice to the power of the council to revoke the certificate as the result of a subsequent examination under this subsection.

Mr. Lloyd

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is a drafting Amendment.

11.32 p.m.

Mr. Banfield

I expected that the Under-Secretary might have offered some explanation of this Amendment. The effect is to weaken considerably the provisions affecting underground bakehouses. Ever since 1901 they have been included in the Factory Acts. Provision was made in that year and it was expected that they would be done away with. The Government have not done that but they originally made provision for periodical inspection. Now the Lords come along with an Amendment that does away with that examination. I am very disappointed about this. It seems a terrible thing to me that in another 40 years, on the next Factories Bill, someone will get up and refer to what the late Mr. Banfield said about it in 1937. The case put up in the Commons was very strong and I think the general opinion was that these places should be done away with, but they gave way in a great measure to the Under-Secretary and his right hon. Friend. Many of these places are approaching 100 years old, and the older they become the greater the need of inspection. As they begin to crumble and decay their state will become even worse. I trust the House will not agree to the Amendment unless we get some satisfactory explanation.

11.34 p.m.

The Lord Advocate

I am glad to be able to assure the hon. Member that his apprehensions are quite groundless. If the purpose of the Amendment had been to weaken the Bill my hon. Friend would not have described it as drafting. The Clause provided that in certain circumstances the Council may give notice in writing and a certificate may be granted for an undergound bakehouse to continue to operate until the next examination. The whole point is that the Council could not reach a decision as to what the future of the bakehouse was to be until some time after the next examination, and thereafter come to a decision to issue a new certificate or resolve to amend the existing certificate. So it is absolutely, in the first place, to meet that technical point that the variation of the language is proposed in this manner. There is the further point, which the hon. Member will appreciate, that, apart altogether from any question of the character of the premises, it might cease to be lawful to use the bakehouse purely for the purpose during the period between one examination and another if the bakehouse had ceased to be used at all for the period of twelve months. So by this Amendment which was proposed in another place that risk of a loophole is also met. I can give the hon. Member the most complete assurance that, so far from weakening the Clause, the effect of the Amendment is to strengthen it.

Mr. Banfield

Will not the effect of the Amendment be to do away with the periodical examination?

The Lord Advocate

No, Sir, the periodical examination will continue under the Clause as it came from this House.

Subsequent Lords Amendment to page 61, line 15, agreed to.

CLAUSE 71.—(Reduction of weekly hours of work of young persons under sixteen.)

Lords Amendment: In page 61, line 25, leave out from "regulations" to the end of line 33, and insert: make such modifications of this Part of this Act, and make such provision as to the period of employment of such young persons and the intervals allowed to them for meals and rest, as appear or appears to him to be necessary or expedient for regulating the arrangement of the hours to be worked by such young persons.

11.39 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This may be said to be a substantial drafting Amendment. The House may remember that it was thought desirable to give the Home Secretary power to make sure that employers, in g[...]ing the extra reduction of hours to any persons under 16, should not do it in such a way as really to render nugatory the extra reduction, as, for example, giving a very long interval at lunch time, or in any other undesirable manner. We made an alteration on Report, but we are making this further alteration to make sure that the Home Secretary has the power.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 66, line 10, agreed to.

CLAUSE 75.—(Restriction of employment inside and outside factory on same day.)

Lords Amendment: In page 66, line 15, at the end, insert: Provided that a woman or young person who has attained the age of sixteen may be so employed in a shop outside the period of employment, but any such employment shall be treated for the purposes of this Part of this Act (including the provisions relating to overtime employment) as employment in the factory.

Mr. Lloyd

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is a provision to deal with one of the problems which arise in an estab- lishment which is partly a shop and partly a factory. It is provided in the Bill that a young person or a woman shall not, except during the period of employment, be employed outside the factory, for instance, in the shop, on any day during which such person is employed in the factory. It is now thought wise that it should be definitely laid down that overtime may be worked by these people in the shop as well as in the factory provided that the total amount of the employment in the shop and factory is rigidly regulated.

CLAUSE 83.—(Exception as to hour of commencement of period of employment.)

Lords Amendment: In page 70, line 42, at the end, insert: NEW CLAUSE B.—(Exception as to hour at which period of employment of young persons under 16 ends.) The period of employment for young persons who have not attained the age of sixteen may end at an hour later than six o'clock in the evening but not later than seven o'clock in the evening in any factory where— (a) the total hours worked by those young persons do not exceed forty-four in any week; (b) those young persons are, on at least one weekday in addition to Saturday, not employed after the interval for the midday meal, or are, on at least one weekday, not employed before that interval; and (c) and such other conditions as may be prescribed by regulations of the Secretary of State are complied with.

11.42 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House will remember that on the Report stage the Home Secretary moved a provision to make it compulsory that the employment of young persons under 16 should end at 6 p.m., because we thought that would meet the general wish of the House. But we were approached by persons interested in education who took the view that a rigid provision of that kind would make it less easy for employers to give the reduction to 44 hours by means of an extra half-holiday rather than by curtailing the evening hours. They took the view, particularly in the case of employers who were giving time off for young persons for day-time classes, that where their work would have normally ended at 6.30, it would make it very hard on the employer who gave the half-holiday to prevent him from keeping the young person after 6.30. We thought it would be in the interests of the young persons themselves that whereas the general hour should be 6 o'clock, there should be opportunities, under certain safeguards, to extend the hour to 7 o'clock.

11.44 p.m.

Mr. Rhys Davies

We are very unhappy about this Amendment. The Under-Secretary said that persons interested in education had been to the Home Office. I should like to know the type of person and in what type of education they were interested. If the Association of Local Education Authorities had approached the Home Office and asked for this alteration we could have understood it, but the Under-Secretary did not say that. We object to this extension of one hour to 7 o'clock, and it seems to us a very strange proceeding. It is like a tram driver who gets eight hours work in four spells. We do not like the idea of spells of employment for young persons up to 7 o'clock in the evening. I do not think the other House should tamper with tile decision of the House of Commons on this point, and I strongly object to the Under-Secretary using the other House for the purpose of proposing this new Clause. Unless we get a better explanation we shall have to divide against this Amendment.

11.46 p.m.

Mr. Silverman

There is another aspect of this matter which should not be overlooked. We can quite understand that it may be in the interests of young persons to do this; that in a desire to allow them to work a five-day week arid have a complete week-end leave for their own leisure we will even permit the hours of employment to be extended to 7 o'clock in the evening. Even then it should be done only if the victims of the employment themselves consented. I should like to have seen a provision to ascertain the desires of the young persons themselves, whether they would prefer to work on until 6 o'clock always, or whether they would prefer to have the hours extended to 7 o'clock on some days in order to give them a longer period of leisure at the week-end. But I view with considerable apprehension the suggestion that they are to be kept at work as late as 7 o'clock in order that some educational authority may add to their education. If the House had accepted the view that factories ought to be closed to children up to the age of 15 they would be attending schools, their education would be looked after, and their working day would have ended at a reasonable time. Their evenings would have been their own for recreation and amusement, as they should be. It is a dreadful thing to say that the hours of labour for large numbers of young people under the age of 16 shall extend to 7 o'clock in order that some part of their leisure shall be used for the purposes of education. They should never be taken away from education at that age. This is not an improvement of the Bill, and I am a little surprised that the Under-Secretary should have accepted it so calmly as if it were an effort to improve the handiwork of this House. It is not an improvement. It limits still further the little good which this House was able to achieve.

11.50 p.m.

Viscountess Astor

I am a little disappointed in the Government for having accepted this Amendment. If young people are going to be let off for two hours in the day, that is really not practical. Many of them live too far away to be able to join in any sports. We have not had a reasonable explanation of why we should give way to the Lords in this matter. I was hoping that they would see light, as they have done before, and that they would say to the Commons that no young person under 15 should be allowed in a factory. Every now and then the other House sees, not red, but light, and this action of theirs is most disappointing. If children get a certain time off in the middle of the day, what can they do? The most they can do is to go to a movie. As far as education is concerned, this Clause will do no good. When a child is kept in a factory till 7 o'clock, it means very often that he cannot get home till 8, and that does away with all that the House wants, sport, keeping fit and all those things which are talked about in the House. It is going to do away with any further education, and, apart from education, it is going to do away with the club life which we are trying to build up and which is so vital.

Mr. J. J. Davidson

Do not forget to vote now.

11.52 p.m.

Mr. Mander

I do not feel that we have had sufficient justification for making the change. The Under-Secretary used rather mysterious words about certain persons interested in education. Why not tell us exactly who they are? Is it the Board of Education? Is it the archbishops and bishops? We are entitled to know who they are. The real difficulty in which we find ourselves is owing to the fact that the Government have not reduced the hours of work of these young workers. If the hours had been fixed at 40, as most Members of the Committee desired, you would not have had this difficulty. If a much better justification for the change is not produced we ought to retain the provision in the Bill.

11.53 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

It might be desirable if I gave a further explanation. The House will remember that we are governed by the fact that the maximum permissive hours are 44—not 40. We cannot discuss the question of 44 or 40 hours now. In the earlier discussions on the Bill, the House may remember, we all took a great interest in the way in which this extra reduction was to take place. Was it to be by a shortening of the hours or by cutting out the whole of a morning's or afternoon's work on particular days? A great many of us—perhaps the majority—thought that in many cases the preferable method would be to give a whole free half-holiday on a particular day rather than cut a little off the hours on each of the days, and this new Clause deals solely with that point. I would remind the House that the record of the Home Office in this matter is blameless. We did not accept this provision of 6 p.m. as the limit when it was proposed by somebody else. We considered this problem from the point of view of the young persons and came forward ourselves without pressure to make 6 p.m. the limit. [HON. MEMBERS: Why give it up?] The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that our motives are exactly the same as those which he and other hon. Members have. Perhaps I ought to clear up this mystery, and say that the Board of Education have communicated with us and entirely agree with us, in the interests of the spread of day-time classes—

Miss Wilkinson

The hon. Gentleman is speaking of technical education, but this is completely wiping out the possibility of these children making a greater attendance at night classes. For most of the children, except those who have special facilities in London and other large towns, night classes are the only possibility they have of getting this education.

Mr. Lloyd

The point we are considering is simply whether or not it is desirable to make it easier in certain circumstances for the children to have a half-holiday rather than a small reduction of hours each day. I assure the House that that is our motive. We realised that the effect of the 6 p.m. provision would really be to throw the method of reduction of hours on to a reduction of the hours each day rather than on to a half-holiday. We thought a reasonable amount of elasticity should be allowed. It was for that reason alone that this Amendment was introduced. That is our only motive.

11.58 p.m.

Mr. Broad

After listening to the explanation of the hon. Gentleman, I am afraid that this provision is very badly drafted. As I read it, any young person under 16, although supposed to be working 44 hours a week, could be kept on until 7 p.m. every day in the week, and at some convenient time, one individual would be given a half-holiday, and at some other time, another individual would be given one, and so on. How would it be possible to check such a factory? If all the young people had a half-holiday on the same day of the week, it would be possible to have some check over the factory, but in this case there could be no check. It would be of no use to the children, because they would not be able to make arrangements beforehand or to attend any regular classes. The whole provision is badly drafted, and I

think there ought to have been some consultation with hon. Members on this side before it was put down.

12.0 m.

Mr. Herbert Morrison

I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

The Under-Secretary has indicated that this new Clause has been proposed on the representation of the Board of Education. It seems curious that he should first say that it was on the representation of certain persons interested in education. They turned out to be no less than the State Department concerned with education. I suppose that in future we must refer to the President of the Board of Education as "certain persons interested in education." This new Clause has, therefore, been inserted on educational grounds, and we are not satisfied that those grounds are sound or adequate. If it has been inserted on educational grounds the representative of the State Department concerned with education ought to be here to give us the grounds on which these representations were made to the Home Office. think that the House generally is surprised that, as this is claimed to be an educational point, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education is not here. I suggest that the Chief Whip might be better occupied in seeing that the Parliamentary Secretary is in his place than bringing imprecations down on his colleagues and on us. I move the adjournment of the Debate in order that the Chief Whip may do the job for which he is paid and send for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education so that we may have an authoritative view—as far as that is practicable from this Government—on the educational aspects of this question instead of listening to the Under-Secretary for the Home Office, who is not qualified or authorised to speak on the educational policy of His Majesty's Government.

Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

The House divided: Ayes, 99; Noes, 194.

Division No. 319.] AYES. [12.2 a.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Burke, W. A. Dobbie, W.
Ammon, C. G. Cape, T. Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Chater, D. Ede, J. C.
Banfield, J. W. Cocks, F. S. Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)
Barr, J. Daggar, G. Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)
Bellenger, F. J. Dalton, H. Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.
Broad, F. A. Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Foot, D. M.
Buchanan, G. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Gallacher, W.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Kirkwood, D. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Gibson, R. (Greenock) Lawson, J. J. Seely, Sir H. M.
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Leonard, W. Sexton, T. M.
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Silverman, S. S.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. McEntee, V. La T. Simpson, F. B.
Griffiths, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) MacLaren, A. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Mainwaring, W. H. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Mander, G. le M. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Marshall, F. Sorensen, R. W.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Maxton, J. Stephen, C.
Harris, Sir P. A. Messer, F. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Milner, Major J. Tinker, J. J.
Hayday, A. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Walker, J.
Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Watson, W. McL.
Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Noel-Baker, P. J. White, H. Graham
Hills, A. (Pontefract) Paling, W. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Holdsworth, H. Parkinson, J. A. Wilkinson, Ellen
Hollins, A. Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Hopkin, D. Price, M. P. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Jagger, J. Pritt, D. N. Windsor, W. (Hull, [...])
Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Ridley, G. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Riley, B. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Ritson, J.
Kelly, W. T. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Kirby, B. V. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Mr. John and Mr. Mathers.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Eastwood, J. F. Lloyd, G. W.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Eckersley, P. T. Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Loftus, P. C.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Emery, J. F Lyons, A. M.
Apsley, Lord Emrys-Evans, P. V. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)
Asks, Sir R. W. Entwistle, Sir C. F. McCorquodale, M. S.
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Errington, E. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Erskine-Hill, A. G. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Balniel, Lord Everard, W. L. McKie, J. H.
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Findlay, Sir E. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Barrie, Sir C. C. Fleming, E. L. Magnay, T.
Baxter, A. Beverley Fremantle, Sir F. E. Manningham-Buller, Sir M
Beit, Sir A. L. Furness, S. N. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Bernays, R. H. Fyfe, D. P. M. Markham, S. F.
Bird, Sir R. B. Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley) Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.
Blair, Sir R. Gluckstein, L. H. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Bossom, A. C. Gower, Sir R. V. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Boulton, W. W. Grant-Ferris, R. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Moore, Lieut.-Colonel Sir T. C. R.
Boyce, H. Leslie Gridley, Sir A. B. Moreing, A. C.
Bracken, B. Grigg, Sir E. W. M. Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)
Brass, Sir W. Gritten, W. G. Howard Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Munro, P.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Guinness, T. L. E. B. Nall, Sir J.
Bull, B. B. Gunston, Capt. D. W. Nicholson, G. (Farnham)
Butcher, H. W. Guy, J. C. M. Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Hannah, I. C. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Cartland, J. R. H. Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Palmer, G. E. H.
Carver, Major W. H. Harbord, A. Petherick, M.
Cary, R. A. Harlington, Marquess of Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle) Procter, Major H. A.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Radford, E. A.
Channon, H. Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Christie, J. A. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Hepworth, J. Ramsden, Sir E.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Higgs, W. F. Rankin, Sir R.
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon) Rathbone, J. R.(Bodmin)
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Holmes, J. S. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Ropner, Colonel L.
Cox, H. B. T. Hunter, T. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Craven-Ellis, W. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Ron Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Crooks, J. S. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Rowlands, G.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Keeling, E. H. Royds, Admiral P. M. R.
Cross, R. H. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Salmon, Sir I.
Crowder, J. F. E. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Salt, E. W.
Cruddas, Col. B. Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R. Samuel, M. R. A.
Culverwell, C. T. Kimball, L. Sandys, E. D.
Davidson, Viscountess Lamb, Sir J. Q. Savery, Sir Servington
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Latham, Sir P. Scott, Lord William
Denville, Alfred Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak) Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Dodd, J. S. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Smith, L. W. (Hallam)
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Liddall, W. S. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Dugdale, Captain T. L. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Spens, W. P.
Strauss, H. G. (Norwich) Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Wakefield, W. W. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F. Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan Wragg, H.
Sutcliffe, H. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.
Tate, Mavis C. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Wayland, Sir W. A
Thomas, J. P. L. Wells, S. R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Thomson, Sir J. D. W. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R. Mr. Grimston and Captain
Touche, G. C. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.) Waterhouse.

Question put, and agreed to.

Question again proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

12.6 a.m.

Miss Wilkinson

I feel that the House has been somewhat discourteously treated either by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, or by the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, in the fact that no attempt has been made to explain why the representative of the Board of Education is not present. This is no mere trivial matter; it is a very serious matter and the point about which we are concerned is this. There are only certain large towns where it would be possible to make use of this extra afternoon off for purposes of technical education. Over a large part of the country this type of extension education is largely given at night classes and if these girls and boys are at work until seven o'clock in the evening they cannot take advantage of the very extensive and well-organised system of night classes which exists in this country. When they get home from work and have a meal and a wash and it is eight or nine o'clock, and it is utterly impossible for them to attend classes. I cannot understand the casual remark of the Under-Secretary that the Board of Education is responsible for this suggestion. It seems to me that they of all people should desire young people to have these educational advantages but this proposal simply means that large numbers of boys and girls will be prevented from availing themselves of the facilities provided for them under the Board's own system. This is a subject on which the Board ought to speak for itself.

I feel too that we ought to have the support of the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) not only in Debate in the House but also in the Division Lobby, on this great issue. She has done a great deal to foster club life among boys and girls and obviously if these children—and they are only children—are to have this extra work on two nights a week, it will be very difficult for them to keep up that club life. Furthermore there is nothing in this proposal to say that the nights on which the work is to be done may not be altered and altered unreasonably. I see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, like a shy shade, just slipping in from behind Mr. Speaker's Chair. But he cannot be allowed merely to appear here shyly, just to give an air to the Debate. Here is a Parliamentary Secretary who very largely owes his position as a Parliamentary Secretary to the work he has done for the education of adolescents, at Toynbee Hall and in connection with clubs. We want him to come along now and tell us why his Board of Education has done this astonishing thing. Why have they agreed to this extra hour of employment for young people which will vitiate so much of their work? There is no need for me to say anything more. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am so glad to have with me the unanimous opinion of the House, and I hope that I shall have their unanimous assistance in pressing the shy Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education to come forward and enlighten us as to what the Board of Education have been up to.

12.16 a.m.

Mr. Gallacher

As one who has worked in a factory I think nothing worse could be contemplated than this Clause. I cannot understand how anyone who has given any consideration to the life of young workers could propose such a Clause. When I was 14 or 15 I did not mind very much an early start in the morning—and I started at six, and had to be up at five—but the one thing I desired was to get away as early as I could in the afternoon or evening. Recently there was a strike of apprentices on the Clyde, an instructive and important feature in the development of the young workers, and I tell the Home Office and the Government that if they try to operate a Clause keeping the young workers at work till seven in the evening they are going to get such strikes. I will do all in my power to get the young workers to strike against such a criminal act. Working till seven means that the whole of the night is wasted, that every night in the week is wasted. The Home Office expert said they were in a difficulty, that they could cut down the hours by so much a day, or cut off the afternoon or morning. Therefore they would give the impression that they are acting out of pure kind heartedness, that instead of reducing the hours per day they reduce the morning part. But that is not the point. They are proposing to take the four hours off in the morning or in the afternoon and to put on an hour each evening. That is not making any reduction so far as the afternoon or evening is concerned. It is simply a trick whereby employers can employ the young workers every night in the week and play about with the relief either in the forenoon or the afternoon. I am prepared to say that in no factory anywhere will it be possible to carry out this Clause, or to carry it out in such a way as to get the results that arc desired, because not only will the young workers be against it but there is not a tradesman or an unskilled worker who will not be ready to support them in any steps they may take to put an end to the attempt to operate the Clause. I ask the Government to consider seriously where they are going. The Clause can never be operated, either for an educational purpose or the purpose for which it was intended, and that is to suit the interests of the employers, and so I suggest that it should be withdrawn right away.

12.20 a.m.

Mr. Jagger

I would reinforce the appeal that has been made to the representative of the Board of Education. I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that he had had representations from persons interested in education, and when challenged he said that the Board of Education had raised no objection. I am afraid that the Board of Education are being done a great injustice, and their representative should get up and defend himself. The House has been allowed to believe that the Board approve of this method; if so, they have fallen much further from grace than my association with them has led me to expect. I do not think anybody can exaggerate the importance of resisting and defeating the proposed new Clause from the other place, because it is bad in conception and is one way of getting back to that 48 hours from which the Government were forced to run away and substitute 44. It means they want to make it possible for employers to work young people for 44 hours and to get in four hours of technical education. If children from 14 to 16 years of age are to be in the factories from 1937 onwards, and are to have technical education, let them have it inside the 44 hours provided in the Measure. That education is to make them more efficient wage-slaves; let them be made so inside the working hours. I cannot conceive of there being any desire to give these children cultural education; the opportunity for that occurs much more in the evening than in any odd morning or afternoon on which an employer may care to let them off work. Technical education they can get in the morning; I strongly object to their having it on top of their 44-hour week.

12.23 a.m.

Sir P. Harris

I understand that the case put forward by the Under-Secretary was on educational grounds. It is to encourage education, and is not to raise the number of hours, but to rearrange them in return for an extra hour or half hour for education. What guarantee is there that local authorities will make provision for education for young persons, or that the children will attend educational classes? There is no reference to education in the Clause. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education is here now, no doubt at some inconvenience to himself; if he could give us an assurance that both the Board of Education and the local authorities are to make proper provision for education of young persons under this Clause it might alter our attitude.

12.25 a.m.

Mr. Rhys Davies

I am very pleased that the Board of Education are at long last represented here. I am going to make a strong appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us what the Board actually think about the proposal which the hon. Gentleman has put before us. As the hon. Gentleman was late in coming in, perhaps I had better tell him what has happened. It may interest and enlighten him.

Mr. Speaker

I must point out that the hon. Member cannot speak again on this Clause except with the leave of the House. Has the hon. Member leave?

Hon. Members


12.26 a.m.

Mr. Marshall

If the Board of Education have agreed to this Clause, they are wrong, and they know they are wrong, for a more reactionary opinion I have never heard. I have seen young persons working in factories till seven o'clock, and I will try to describe what happens. A young person, at five o'clock, which is the ordinary knocking-off time for young persons, begins to feel that he wants to get home, and no power on earth can make him enjoy or take an interest in the work of the factory after that hour. If the Board of Education do not know that, they have learned nothing in all their years of experience. A provision that young persons are to work till seven when they know that all the active life of the town begins at about that time is one of the most reactionary provisions ever introduced in a Factory Bill or any other Bill, and I would ask the Board of Education to explain it. At five o'clock a lad is physically tired and wants to get home, and his employers themselves can get no value out of his work after that hour. Why is it sought to impose this reactionary Clause in a Factory Act? I sincerely hope that the House will divide against the Clause and defeat it. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education whether he can give us any reasonable and rational explanation why the Board have allowed the Clause to be presented to the House for approval.

12.29 a.m.

Mr. Ede

While the Parliamentary Secretary is finding out what was said before he came in, perhaps I may be allowed to congratulate the Patronage Secretary on having communicated with the hon. Gentleman and suggested to him that it is in accordance with the traditions of the House that he should respond to the appeal which has been made to him. The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department has not attempted to answer the speech of the Noble Lady the Member for Sutton (Viscountess Astor), who stated clearly and emphatically the educational objections to the Clause in its present form, arid I think the Under-Secretary was very lucky to be able to suggest to the House that after all it was not for him to defend the Clause, because the Board of Education had expressed no objection to it. It convinces me that the Board of Education have even less to do with education than I ever feared they had. There can be no educational justification for such a Clause as this. Has the Association of Education Committees asked for it? Has the Education Committee of the County Councils Association asked for it? Did the Association of Municipal Corporations ask for it? Who were the persons interested in education who took the initiative which led the Home Department to seek the opinion of the Board of Education and learn from them that they had no objection to the Clause? Is there any recognised body of educational opinion in the country which could have asked the Home Office to amend the Clause by adding this proviso to it? I do not know how the Home Office expect their inspectors to be able to keep a check on the factories once this Clause is passed. I see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education has now received the necessary inspiration and I will not stand between him and the House for a single moment.

12.31 a.m.

Mr. Magnay

Before I reply to the invitation of hon. Members on the other side of the House, who are experts in abstaining from voting when it suits them, may I ask the Under-Secretary for the Home Department to put the House in possession of the facts with regard to how many factories and what percentage of factories would have to work until seven o'clock at night? In my experience in the North I cannot recall any. Perhaps I may have the attention of the deputy for the Leader of the Opposition who is getting £2,000 a year for opposing the Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap!"] I could ask, where is the Leader of the Opposition, but I will forego that obvious retort. I do suggest that the proportion of factories that work until seven o'clock in the evening is extremely small and there is a safeguard in this particular Sub-section giving the Home Office extraordinary powers to see that the children are properly safeguarded. At the same time I do wish this Amendment had been put before the Committee that considered this Bill in the proper place upstairs. We had the best Committee in my experience and our purpose was to bring forward the best Bill possible for the consideration of this House. As one of the Committee which sat for 19 days and gave full consideration to the Bill, and the most favourable consideration, I regret that such an important Amendment as this was not thought of before the Bill came before this House or went to the other place.

I dislike very much, as a Member of this House, taking any instructions at all as to the social conditions of our people, from another place, where they cannot know, as we know, what are the conditions appertaining to industry. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] If hon. Members do not know, they are too old for me to teach them, and it is time they wakened up. There could have been no Committee more competent to deal with this Bill than the Committee we had upstairs, and I do wish this Amendment had been put forward. I do ask the Under-Secretary to give the House the benefit of his advice as to what percentage—it is a very small one, I am sure—of the factories would be affected by this provision, and, in view of the third proviso in the Amendment, giving the Home Office extraordinary powers to see that this is not exploited, what the effect of the Amendment will be?

12.35 a.m.

Mr. Davidson

I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education to reply to the points which have been put, and I will immediately resume my seat if he desires to reply to the criticisms that have been made. The previous speaker, the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Magnay), having made his position perfectly clear by both supporting and opposing the Amendment, probably believing that there may be an early reshuffle in the Government, I would like to bring one or two points to the Parliamentary Secretary's attention that may, perhaps, so far have escaped his notice. I happened early in my life to be apprenticed to an industry that did work that had to be rushed on certain particular days. The chief evil of this Amendment is that this will be completely uncontrolled. There is no specific mention as to how the employers can be controlled with regard to the operation of this extra hour. You are giving employers of labour the opportunity of going to young apprentices between the ages of 14 and 16 and of saying to them, "We have a rush of work to-night and to-morrow night and you must stay on until seven o'clock," and then they can tell those apprentices that they can take half a day whenever it suits their purpose.

This is an evil against which the trade union movement has tried very definitely to set its face. Among trade union organisations we have definite rules forbidding the employment of juveniles unless employed with a proper number of journeymen, but here, by this loosely drafted Amendment, you are giving employers of labour an opportunity of employing boy labour until seven o'clock at night in contradiction of the expressions of opinion we have received from the Front Bench during the Debate on this Bill. I ask both the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education and the Under-Secretary for the Home Department to recognise this evil. If employers are to be allowed to do this free from any control as to how they operate this extra hour, it means condemning many boys in industry to be merely tools in the hands of their employers.

12.39 a.m.

Mr. Burke

I hope the Under-Secretary will be able to do something to prevent the insertion of this Amendment. As one of those who were on the Committee which dealt with this Bill, he will remember that we had a very considerable struggle to induce the Government to agree to reduce the hours for young persons under 16 to 44 hours, and now we are told the most amazing thing—that these hours are going to be extended until 7 o'clock in the evening on representations from some persons interested in education. I put it to the House quite candidly that there can be no educational ground at all for keeping young persons in factories until 7 o'clock at night. As a matter of fact, from the educational, physical and social point of view of the communities affected, it is a thoroughly bad thing that this insertion is proposed.

The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Magnay) has said that there are not many factories that will be concerned in this question. I think that is perfectly true, and because there are so few factories, so far as the north is concerned, it is one good reason why this thing should not be inserted. In the north it has become the usual thing for factories to finish at 5 or 6 o'clock in the evening. There will be very few factories that want to keep their adults there until 7 o'clock. This has not been inserted on any educational grounds, but rather to please those particular factories that do work very late, abnormally late, so that they can have the young persons working alongside the adults. Because the young persons' hours are shorter, the device has been arranged to allow some of them off on Monday mornings, another lot off on Tuesday mornings, breaking up the whole of their time so that a certain number of young persons may be in the factories all the while the adults are working there. Think of the effect of that from the point of view of education.

There are not very many authorities that do have day training schools, but there are far more who have technical schools at night and who want the young persons to come to them. There are also all the social activities of the town that are to be interfered with, and there is the physical side of the thing. The Government have just told the country that they are very much interested in the physical training and welfare of the people. How are you going to organise physical training schools for people who have just left school, and are used to being in school only until 4 or 4.30 o'clock and then have to jump to another 2½ hours stretch in a factory, and after that are expected to do either physical or technical education? I say that there are no grounds, either physical, educational or social for doing this, and most particularly not educational. The reason for it is to meet the wishes of the employers whom we got down in the Committee, and now the good work of the Committee is being destroyed by legislation from another place.

12.43 a.m.

Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

I rise to make an appeal to the Government in this matter. I cannot help thinking that they have not until now fully considered the implications of this question. Anyone who has employed children from 14 to 16 realises that it is not fair to work a child 44 hours and expect the child on the top of that to put in several hours at some educational institution. That is apparently what is intended in this Clause. I quite appreciate that the Government are in a considerable difficulty because this is the last time, in the ordinary way, that this will be considered, but I do venture to suggest to the Government that if they would allow this new Clause to be negatived, some further consideration could be given to the matter in conjunction with another place and some compromise might be arrived at. I do suggest that the new Clause in its present form is one which the House, quite apart from party, would be very unwise to carry through, and I am quite sure that the Government, if they think about it carefully and see the full implications, will be of the same opinion. I hope that the Government will see their way in allow this Clause to be negatived on this occasion.

12.46 a.m.

Mr. Messer

I just want to deal with a point raised by the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Magnay) because from what he said it would appear that he has not a very wide experience of factory life in the south of England. The evil that will be done in this sense will be particularly in seasonal industries. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education was connected with an educational institution right in the centre of the East End of London surrounded by factories which work seasonal work. It will be found that during the rush hours the men are working overtime. The normal leaving-off time will be six o'clock in the evening, but the boys who work in these factories are of very much greater value when they are working in conjunction with one of the craftsmen. The result will be that during those periods of overtime when the trades are busy men will be starting their overtime and it will be in the interests of the employers to keep the boys on as long as possible in the evening to help the men who are going on through the additional hours. The mornings will not be so important to the employer, and as a consequence of the adjustment that has been made the boys will be working during the whole of that busy period until seven o'clock at night. People in some quarters think that "may" means "shall," although the Clause does not say it, and that "may" will be interpreted in such a way that it will in reality do a great injury to those boys who will be working when they ought to be using their time to better purposes.

12.48 a.m.

Mr. Morgan

I rise to point out that there are some people on this side of the House who have just as much interest in young people as persons on the other side of the House. May I say that I profoundly disagree with one or two speakers on the other side who think that this is a matter for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education to decide? In my opinion the question before the House is whether young people should be allowed to continue to work until 7 o'clock at night, and as one who has a very great deal of experience, both practically and in administration, I am bound to say emphatically that those who are under 16 should not be allowed to go on working until 7 o'clock at night. It is impossible for those who are going to a systematic course of instruction at evening classes to do so when they do not leave the factories until 7 o'clock.

I have had some experience of night work, and I know what I am talking about. One of the greatest difficulties we have had in making successful continuation classes is this "stop and go" sort of attendance at these classes. I really do regret that this Amendment from another place has come to this House. If we could find some way out, as was suggested by a right hon. Member on the Front Bench opposite, I would be very pleased indeed, but I am bound to say, as one who is intensely interested in the welfare of young people and connected with education all my life, that I do very much regret that this Amendment should have come to us. I do not think we ought to throw the whole onus for this on to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education. It is for us to decide, especially those who have been members of the Standing Committee, and I welcome the opportunity to register my protest against this Amendment.

12.49 a.m.

Mr. Holdsworth

I should like to make an appeal to the Under-Secretary to take back this particular Amendment. I want to back up the point of view expressed by the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Magnay). I know something about the textile industry, and I cannot imagine anybody who is in the textile trade or anyone who represents a textile constituency disagreeing with me if I say that they are not going to keep a factory going, burning extra light, etc., and at the same time guarantee the child a 44-hour week. If it was overtime that would be a different question. Certainly the demand does not come from the north of England.

I would like to ask a particular question in regard to something we have been told about this matter. Can he say what trade or trades have made a demand for this? That is the question I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education. The House of Commons has a right to know what preparations have been made for these children to have the facilities for education which we are told they were going to receive. I should also like to know who asked that children between 14 and 16 should work up to seven o'clock. I think it ought to be said in fairness to employers of labour. I know that even from the economic point of view it is not worth while working 44 hours a week to keep the factory open up to seven o'clock. I think the House is entitled to some further explanation and that the Government should either withdraw the clause or bring in some Amendment to it instead of bringing this forward at the last moment.

12.52 a.m.

Mr. Banfield

The House is aware that this Bill not only concerns large businesses which would have no desire to keep their works running until seven o'clock, but that it also concerns thousands of workshops. These places are small and, if I may say so, places where sweating has always gone on, and this provision is opening the door as wide as possible for these people to exploit young people. Under this Clause it may be said that a child working until seven o'clock may be given a half-day. What is going to happen to them if they are given a half-day just when their employers choose? They will be kept at work until seven o'clock at night and in many places there is no provision for technical education during the daytime. Take the children in my constituency. They do not work in Wednesbury, but in Birmingham, which is three-quarters of an hour away by train. If they are going to be kept until seven o'clock in the evening it will take them nearly an hour to get to the railway station at Wednesbury and after that they have to get home. In that case what sort of life do we expect them to lead? We who served on the Standing Committee gave our best and discussed everything over and over again, and I strongly object to a very important point like this, which was never mentioned by the Under-Secretary of State either on Committee stage or Report stage and which was inserted at the last moment. I think we have a right, as Members of the Standing Committee, to protest because we have had no chance to deal with this matter as we should. This is a matter of the utmost importance to hundreds of thousands of children and it is most important we should examine it. Members on all sides of the House who sat on the Committee wished to do something at any rate for the children and we have been talking in this House about physical training. Therefore it is all the more surprising that this proposal should be put before us at this stage. I hope the appeal made to the Government will get us out of our anxieties on this point.

12.56 a.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Captain Margesson)

I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

I rise to address the House as the Under-Secretary for the Home Department (Mr. Lloyd) has already spoken. It seems to me, having listened to the Debate and to the appeals from all quarters of the House, that the best thing we can do this evening is to adjourn the House so that the Government can have an opportunity of examining this point a little more fully and see whether it is possible to make some amendment or some alteration. It is not for me to express any view on the merits of the case, as I have not sat through all the Committee stage. I do not think that a little extra time for further consideration would do any of us any harm, and therefore I suggest that the Debate on these particular Lords Amendments be adjourned.

Mr. Rhys Davies

I respond most emphatically to the appeal made by the right hon. Gentleman. It is the most intelligent speech delivered from the Front Bench for a long time and I support whole-heartedly the Motion.

Debate to be resumed To-morrow.