HC Deb 28 July 1937 vol 326 cc3244-72

Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question proposed [27th July] on Consideration of Lords Amendments.

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 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.

Question again proposed, "That this House doth agree wish the Lords in the said Amendment."—[Mr. Lloyd.]

11.6 p.m.

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

Perhaps it will be convenient if I make a short statement which will be satisfactory to the House. Hon. Members who have followed the Bill through its stages will be familiar with the fact that when the Home Office have found that a particular course has been recommended from all sides of the House, those views have been met whenever possible. That is the course we propose to take on this ocasion. We have considered carefully the views that have been expressed in various parts of the House, and we do not propose to press this new Clause.

11.8 p.m.

Mr. Short

I think the statement made by the Under-Secretary accords with the wishes of the House and meets the criticism which, as he has said, came from all quarters. We are much obliged to him for treating the House in this manner, and I think we may now proceed to the consideration of the further Lords Amendments.

11.9 p.m.

Mr. White

I heard the announcement of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary with considerable relief and satisfaction. Those Members who served on the Committee will bear me out in saying that nothing excited keener debate and interest than the question of the working hours for those under 16 years of age. When this matter was last under discussion the House showed definite signs of an uneasy conscience, and I think that the step now announced will allay that feeling.

Question, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and negatived.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 74, line 14, agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 74, line 21, at the end, insert:

NEW CLAUSE C.—(Exception as to manufacture of bread or flour confectionery.) (1) For the purpose of meeting without overtime employment pressure of work recurring on particular days of the week the total hours worked in a day by women in the manufacture of bread or flour confectionery (including meat and fruit pies) or sausages may on two days other than Saturday in any week, extend to ten hours and the period of employment on those days may extend to twelve hours and may begin at any time not earlier than six o'clock in the morning and end at any time not later than nine o'clock in the evening: Provided that nothing in this subsection shall affect the provisions of this Part of this Act with respect to the total hours worked in a week. (2) The Secretary of State may, as regards factories of which the occupiers avail themselves of this exception, by regulations make such modifications in the provisions of this Part of the Act which require that the period of employment and intervals allowed for meals and rest shall be the same for all women and young persons, and that no women or young persons shall be employed during any such interval, as appear to him to be necessary or expedient.

11.11 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

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

The principle has already been accepted in the Bill that special treatment should be given to a trade in which there is an unusual weekly rhythm of work, by which I mean that regularly week after week there are periods of slackness in one part of the week and heavy pressure in another part of the week. It would seem desirable to adjust the scheme of working to this regular and unusual rhythm. The House accepted the principle in the case of laundries, and I think that I shall be able to show that it would be right to accept it in the case of bread or flour confectionery. There are three points which I should like first to make clear. The first is that this Clause refers only to women and not at all to young persons. The second is that the 48-hour weekly limit is rigidly maintained, so that although there may be an allowance of longer hours on one or two days to meet the regular pressure of work on those days there must be a corresponding reduction of hours at another part of the week. The third point is that the provisions of Clause 72 regarding periods of employment rigidly apply to this Clause. There is no question of an employer being able to say, "We will work longer hours on a particular day this week," and then next week say, "We will work longer hours on some different day and shorter hours on another day." The employer must display a notice showing in detail what are the hours to be worked, the periods of employment and the meal hours for every day of the week, and no change can be made in that scheme, by which the employer is rigidly bound, until notice has been given to the factory inspector, and in any case not more than once in three months.

Previously the Home Office were not in possession of full information regarding bread or flour confectionery. We have made it our business to ask for reports from the factory inspectors, and, broadly speaking, we find that there is a very heavy demand for these perishable foodstuffs for immediate consumption over the week-end, and that as they are, broadly speaking, perishable foodstuffs, that is that they go stale or bad, they cannot be accumulated and stored to be sold at the week-end. In the case of one large city we understand that the trade on Saturday is equal to the trade done on all the other days of the week put together. Therefore, there arise periods of heavy pressure regularly on the Thursday and Friday in order to meet the week-end demand. We have gone in some detail into the hours in various parts of the country, and though I will not weary the House with full particulars I will quote one example which is rather typical. In the case of the Hull Co-operative Society whereas the hours on Mondays and Tuesdays are from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., indicating clearly that there is no great pressure of work, on Thursdays and Fridays the hours are from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is particularly a problem which arises in the North, and especially with the smaller firms in the large towns. I suggest that in view of the fact that this trade has special features and deals with women only, and that there is no alteration in the rigid weekly limit of 48 hours, the House should agree with the Lords in making this Amendment.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Banfield

I want to ask the House not to agree to this Lords Amendment. I am a little curious to inquire how it came to be put in upon the Report stage in the other House. I sat on the Committee for many days and the Bill was before this House for some months. During the whole progress of the Bill, no representations whatever were made by any employers' organisation in the Kingdom that such a concession as this was necessary to the trade. Towards the close of the Committee stage, an Amendment appeared on the Paper in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for West Birkenhead (Colonel Sandeman Allen) supported by the hon. Member for Harrow (Sir I. Salmon), who was not a Member of the Committee. When that Amendment came to be discussed, the hon. and gallant Gentleman, who was moving an Amendment to give this concession to laundries as well as to bakeries, frankly admitted, when I challenged him, that he knew nothing about this matter of bakeries, and that he was doing his best to oblige his hon. Friend the Member for Harrow. The Amendment was eventually withdrawn.

Up to that point, neither any employers' organisation nor the Home Office had thought of suggesting that an Amendment applying to bakeries was necessary, but because the Amendment had been moved, the Under-Secretary said that he would make inquiries into the matter. The Committee stage was completed and the Report stage was taken on the Floor of this House, but there was not a word from the Under-Secretary or the right hon. Gentleman about a Clause of this kind. The Committee stage was taken in the other House; again there was no mention of this Clause, which, the Under-Secretary told us in his speech to-night, is absolutely necessary if this trade is to be continued. He must not pretend to this House that because of certain circumstances surrounding this trade there must be a provision for longer hours on certain days of the week.

Then, I presume, inquiries were made. I will tell hon. Members what happened. The President of the National Association of Master Bakers and Confectioners, who speak for the baking trade, and are put forward as being representative of the whole of the trade, came to see me here about this matter. They had not been approached; they had not thought about the thing until someone in the Home Office asked them, "Would you like extra hours on certain days?" They came to see me at this House, aid I said to them, in my cheerful, kind way, "Well, brothers, what about it?" They said to me, "Do you think it is necessary that we should have women employed for longer hours on these days?" I replied, "Let me put this to you. Do you think that, if you got this concession of 10 hours' working, with a period of 12 hours' employment altogether, for your women workers, you have sufficient good employers in the baking industry who will play the game over this matter, and will not abuse it?" They agreed with me that on the whole it would be better for the good name of the trade if they took no action in the matter.

Now the Under-Secretary says that inquiries have been made in the North, and he quotes the Hull Cc-operative Society. It is really pleasing and charming to think that the co-operative societies are quoted in support of the Government on a matter of this kind. What really happens in this trade? It is quite true that the Under-Secretary quoted some figures applying to the Hull Co-operative Society, but I speak from my own knowledge and experience, and I say to the Under-Secretary and to his right hon. Friend that in the baking industry there is no such thing, in 999 cases out of 1000, as any short working time on any day of the week. We are being asked here to-night to do what I think is a tremendous injustice to the women. We are being asked to make it possible for a woman to be employed for 10 hours on two days of the week, and for the period of employment to extend over a period of 12 hours. I think that the women in this connection are something like the old Christian martyrs; they are being thrown to the lions. When all is said and done, is it fair, is it reasonable, in the interest of a very few people indeed in the baking industry, to put forward in this way something which the trade has neither asked for nor wishes to be done? Everyone knows of the conditions in the baking industry; everyone knows of the long hours that are worked in that industry; and employers are really glad that there is in this Bill at any rate a compulsory provision that their women shall not work more than 48 hours a week.

We are told by the Under-Secretary, who, of course, with all respect to him. does not know anything about this trade from a practical point of view; he can only speak about the theory; I can talk about the practical side of the trade—that there is a relative slackness at the beginning of the week. I can assure him that there is not. I can assure him that this is not a trade where at the beginning of the week there is nothing to do at all. Hon. Members will, I am sure, agree with me that, while it is quite true that at one time it was only at the end of the week that people could afford to buy a sixpenny cake, there has undoubtedly been a great change of recent years. There is a far greater demand for cake, and it is spread over the whole week. People do not have cake only on Sunday. They have it on Monday, too, and on most days of the week you will see confectionery on the table. [Interruption.] The hon. Member is an exception to the rule. The Under-Secretary does not know the technicalities. He argues that the things have to be made on Thursday and Friday for sale on Saturday and Monday.

If you go to one of these palatial tea houses out of which people make millions of money, you find yourself supplied with cake that is covered with icing of some kind. The foundation of that cake has to be made some days in advance. All that happens at the end of the week is that the stuff is cut up into various shapes and covered over, some with chocolate, some with pink, and some with white, and made to look like nothing on earth and served up as nice new cake. So far as keeping qualities are concerned, the fact remains that, if you want to make a good cake, with flour, sugar and eggs—I am giving the House a first-class recipe—a cake of that kind is better for being two or three days old. It is not a case of new bread. Incidentally, these women are not employed in the manufacture of bread but only in the manufacture of confectionery.

Take, again, the case of Cadby Hall. I challenge the hon. Member for Harrow to deny that when these women have done eight hours, at the pace they have to work in the great factories, they have done as much as their strength will allow. From the employers' point of view, to work them longer than eight hours is not even a good business proposition. I am sure the business proposition will appeal to the hon. Member above everything else. On questions appertaining to the baking industry I will always lift up my voice in defence of a body of men and women who are unable to defend themselves. In all probability the Home Office has made up its mind, and is determined to put this thing on the Statute Book. I appeal to hon. Members. There is no party question involved in this at all. I plead for these women from a humanitarian point of view. In the big bakehouses eight hours is long enough for them to work any day in the week. I think they ought to work considerably less. If anyone goes to Cadby Hall, not by invitation but in the ordinary way, and sees the pace at which these women have to work, he will say that eight hours are long enough.

Sir Patrick Hannon

Has the hon. Member or anyone else received any complaint on the part of the women employed at Cadby Hall demanding any change in the conditions of employment?

Mr. Banfield

That is not the point at all. It is like The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la. It has nothing to do with the case. I am not complaining about Cadby Hall at all; it has nothing to do with it. Apart from the large establishments, more than two-thirds of the baking industry is carried on in the smaller shops, and the kind of shops you see at the end of the street, which are the backbone of the trade. These people are not asking for this thing. Why should the great firms such as are represented by the hon. Member for Harrow come to this House and ask for special concessions and advantages from which they alone are going to get any benefit? I put it to the House that, in view. of what I have said, there is no real need for the Amendment at all. I question whether there was any real need as far as their Lordships were concerned. It was said, "Oh, well, there is Monday; that is a slack day," and that sort of thing. I am positive that there is no justification whatever for this new Clause. I very much regret that it was put in by the other House on the Report stage. Personally, I thought that the thing was dead, it having been killed when the Bill was in Committee upstairs.

If I had thought for a moment that it was the intention of the Government to accept a Clause like this on the Report stage in another place I would have taken some steps to have had the other side of the case presented to their Lordships. It put me at a disadvantage because the Noble Viscount who put the case in another place made one of those strongman speeches of 40 or 50 words. Nobody was there because nothing was known about it, and the result was that it went through. It is suggested that because these people work shorter hours at the beginning of the week, this is some sort of counter-balance. I challenge the hon. Member for the Harrow Division to tell this House that those employed at the great establishment of which he is the head work shorter hours at the beginning of the week and make them up at the end of the week.

Sir Isidore Salmon

If I may answer the hon. Gentleman, they do.

Mr. Banfield

Well, that is news to me. Although I am bound to accept what the hon. Member says—I cannot do anything else—I am going to reserve my judgment upon it. I have endeavoured to put the case to the House, and frankly, sincerely and honestly, I do not believe that there is any necessity for this Amendment. It is being done for the convenience of these few large firms. It is significant that the National Association of Master Bakers, the purveyors of light refreshments and the master roll bakers of London have not asked for this to be done. Had it not been for the active mind and brain of the hon. Member for Harrow we should never have heard anything of this Amendment. I, therefore, hope that the House will not take the advice of the Under-Secretary but will refuse to agree to the Lords Amendment.

11.36 p.m.

Mr. Mander

I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) in the case he has put. It is a very strong case from someone who understands the position, and certainly some reply will have to be made by the Government. I agree with the hon. Member as to the history of the matter when it was before the Committee upstairs. A suggestion of this kind was brought forward but was withdrawn, and it is very surprising to find that it has been accepted in another place. When the Amendment was moved in another place, apart from the Mover no Member of the Government got up to say a single word whether it should be accepted or what were the views of the Government. I am very disappointed at the action of the Government and particularly of the Home Office who acted in a reasonable way during the proceedings in Committee. Now they have taken a step backwards. The Bill has been greatly improved during its passage through the House, and I am sorry that the Government have entered upon a dangerous path of concession. If a case can be made out for this particular trade, you can make an equally good case for a very large number of other trades. What we have to think of in connection with this Clause is not any manufacturer or group of manufacturers but the women concerned. It is far more important that they should have a strictly limited day of eight hours than that the manufacturers should be released from the necessity of reorganising their conditions. It can be done if the employers set their minds to it. I should like to know who really wants this change. The Under-Secretary said last night that another Amendment was brought forward because certain people interested in education desired it. I suppose he will tell us that certain people interested in sausages desired that this Amendment should be brought forward. I do not know whether the statements about the hon. Member for Harrow (Sir I. Salmon) are true or not. I am merely asking for information. I think it is very strange that no evidence has been produced that any organised body of employers require this Amendment.

Mr. Lloyd

The National Association of Master Bakers, Confectioners and Caterers desire it.

Mr. Banfield

After they made that request we had a consultation with them and they agreed that they could do without it.

Mr. Lloyd

I think the hon. Member is mistaken.

Mr. Mander

I understood that the result of a suggestion in Committee was that the inspectors should be sent out to find whether they could discover any group of persons who wanted an Amendment of this kind. It is never difficult to find a group of employers who would be glad to leave things as they are. I think the hon. Member for Wednesbury, who has been in close touch with the Employers' Association, made a case that wants some answering. He was assured by the association that they did not want a change, but apparently the change was pushed down their throats. They were, so to speak, in a choking condition and were obliged to accept it. It opens the door to all sorts of concessions. I regard the concession made to laundries as totally unnecessary. As far as the House has any power to deal with this Amendment I hope we shall do our best to prevent it becoming law.

11.40 p.m.

Sir John Haslam

I rise only to try to put the case in its proper perspective. The speech of the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) would give the impression that only one firm in the country demanded this concession. I can assure the House that it is not one firm only which asks for this change. I am the last person to speak on behalf of that firm, and I have no desire to do so, but I have some right to speak on behalf of the bread and confectionery trade generally, and I say that there is a demand throughout the country for some privilege on certain days of the week. At the beginning of the week and in the middle of the week there is hardly any demand for confectionery, and if the proposal meant that the women who work overtime got no recompense at other times I should oppose it. But the limit is to be within 48 hours, that cannot be exceeded.

I do not want the House to get a wrong impression on this matter from the speech of the hon. Member for Wednesbury. It is entirely wrong for the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) to insinuate that the Home Office has gone about the country asking people to raise an agitation. They may have made inquiries, as it is their duty to do, as to how a proposal in a Bill is going to affect an industry, and to take notice of the points raised by those who will be seriously affected. The confectionery trade is not so easily worked as the hon. Member for Wednesbury suggests. People want fresh confectionery, they want it almost warm out of the oven and they buy more at the week-end when they have more money to spend than on other days of the week. If it is necessary that the laundries should have a concession, then I think it is a thousand-fold more necessary a concession should be granted in the case of a perishable article like confectionery. I want the House to realise that there is a demand for this privilege quite apart from the mighty concern which the hon. Member for Wednesbury has mentioned. There is a demand for it, and I think that the con fectionery trade has a right to be considered as much as any other trade. If any trade has a right to these extensions, it is the trade to which the Home Office propose to grant them.

11.46 p.m.

Mr. Jagger

I wish to support the remarks of the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield), and to challenge the Under-Secretary on this point: not only have the employers' associations of which the hon. Member for Wednesbury spoke failed to agitate for this concession, but the representative organisations of the co-operative movement have not done so. It is true that, having travelled as far as Yorkshire, and having nearly tumbled out of Yorkshire into the North Sea, the in- spectors did find a bakery manager in a co-operative society who evidently does not know his business, but the co-operative movement, which cannot produce less than some 12½ per cent. of the total production, and whose employers' organisation, as the Government have the best of reasons for knowing, is not backward in voicing its views on these and similar matters, has not sought this concession. They are not in the habit of working their women in the bakery department longer hours in the latter part than they do at the beginning or in the middle of the week. I suggest to the hon. Member for Bolton (Sir J. Haslam) that a wise adjustment of the times when large cakes are baked and when small ones are baked will render it quite simple, within an eight-hour day, to cope with even the modern need for the sweet things of life.

The last time I spoke on this subject I took the liberty to prophesy that the concession in the case of laundries would lead to other employers demanding the same concession. I did not think that before the Bill was on the Statute Book my prophecy would be proved to be correct. The concession was absolutely unnecessary in the case of laundries, and it is absolutely unnecessary in the case of bakeries. I sincerely hope that the House will determine that from another place they are not going to sneak in amendments of this nature as this one has been sneaked in.

11.48 p.m.

Sir P. Hannon

I intervene to say how much we deprecate in this House personal reference to employers in relation to any particular industry. The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield), in the course of his speech, made repeated references to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow (Sir I. Salmon). If we were, in this country, to single out one organisation in the employment of labour, the firm with which my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow is associated would stand almost alone as a perfect example of an employer.

Mr. Gallacher


Sir P. Hannon

The hon. Member for Wednesbury made an eloquent speech. The point to be remembered by the House is that there is no suggestion in the Amendment that we are to extend the hours of labour over the week. The hon. Member for Wednesbury wants to place a grievous disability on masses of people who wish to have confectionery served fresh at the end of the week, which would not impose a single disability from the point of view of the hours of labour of those who are engaged in the confectionery industry. I hope that all the eloquence expended on this subject will not delude the House into any misconception of the real point at issue. Nobody desires to extend the hours of labour during the working week.

Mr. Gallacher

The working day.

Sir P. Hannon

No, the working week, But I hope that no serious disability will be imposed on the public in obtaining their confectionery. I hope that the House will not be carried away by eloquent pleas, and especially that of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander), who is the champion of every weak cause which is brought forward. In all my experience of the House I have never known a wibbly-wobbly cause introduced here which the hon. Member has not been prepared to support. I accept this Amendment from another place as a practical contribution to the organisation of labour in this country.

11.52 p.m.

Miss Wilkinson

I will gladly give way if the hon. Member for Harrow (Sir I. Salmon) desires to speak. I have been closely in touch with the girls employed by Messrs. Lyons. It is entirely untrue to say that that firm is a good employer of labour. Their cafes are seething with discontent and the girls are speeded up to the last degree. If I am challenged on that I will bring girls here if it is guaranteed that they will not be dismissed. The way they are speeded up and deductions are made from their wages for various things is notorious. It is right that these conditions should be challenged on the Floor of the House of Commons because we cannot challenge them outside. Everybody knows that this Amendment is due to Messrs. Lyons; it was not here during the time the Bill was going through Committee. We know the things that have been said and the wires that have been pulled. We know what the members of the National Union of Manufacturing Bakers say. It is a public scandal that the largest firm, employing every speed-up method against these girls, should have intimidated the Home Office to bring in this Clause. It is a scandal; they are responsible and they should be arraigned before the bar of public opinion for doing this thing to these girls, which brings in also their small competitors, who do not want the girls to work these long hours. Their smaller competitors have to fall in line with this firm, whose profits are a scandal, and who, because of their profits, are able to do these things. I hope that the Conservative party will realise that these girls are electors.

11.55 p.m.

Mr. Gallacher

I want to bring out one very important point, because it has been dodged all the time, especially by the hon. Member for the Moseley Division (Sir P. Hannon) and the hon. Member for Bolton (Sir J. Haslam). They talk about a 48-hour week, but how far is this question of the working day within the 48-hour week to go: Will any hon. Member opposite defend a proposal that women should work two shifts of 24 hours each, for instance? Would anyone say that in that case the 48-hour week was still sacred? Where is the limit?[Interruption.] I wonder how much the hon. Member opposite who laughs would laugh if he had to go into Cadby Hall, or any other of these factories where women are working these long hours, and do the same work. I wonder how the hon. Member for the Moseley Division, who is so anxious to attack the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) for defending for what he calls weak causes, would feel if he went into Cadby Hall and worked 12 hours. I am certain that, if he had worked for 12 hours in Cadby Hall, he would return here a shadow of his former self.

Sir P. Hannon

My experience of the people employed at Cadby Hall is that they are one of the happiest communities employed anywhere.

Mr. Gallacher

All that I can say is that I wish the hon. Member could go and experience some of that happiness. If he did, I am pretty certain that before long the very pleasant and blooming features that we see before us now would go through a very big transformation. If the Home Office would go to these big factories—I will not take only Cadby Hall—and make inquiries as to the conditions under which the women and girls work there, and the discontent which exists, they would get a budget of discontent at the conditions that would astonish some of the hon. Members opposite. Why is it that when an Amendment is defeated or withdrawn in the Standing Committee upstairs, and then someone suggests that it should be reintroduced in another place, the Home Office make it their business to go round about and canvass for support of that Amendment? It is a scandal. We have to express nice sentiments in this House from time to time, and while we are discussing something in general, hon. Members opposite will express the most humane sentiments, but what we want is not just an expression of humane sentiments, but to see Members acting humanely, and there is no Member of this House who ought to condemn any woman, young or old, 18 years of age or over, to a 12-hour day. I say that that would be a scandal and a most inhumane thing to be imposed on any of the womenfolk in our country, and I ask that hon. Members should not be deceived by this talk of 48 hours in a week. If there is any necessity for reorganising, reorganising should be done, but in no circumstances should any hon. Member support an Amendment which means women having to work a 12-hour day in order to satisfy the interests of the big profit-makers in the big factories.

12 m.

Mr. Broad

There is something more than the interests of these girls—for they are but girls, many of them, at 18 years of age—that is concerned here, and that is the question of the honour of the Home Office and of the Government. Before this Bill was brought into this House, the Home Office, which has contacts all over the country, consulted with every employers' organisation and every workers' organisation in the country, and we all knew it. Years have been taken in preparing this Bill, and the employers' organisations, including the representatives of the master bakers, have carefully gone through it. This Amendment was not put on the Paper till the last moment, when a certain hon. Member in Committee, where we were carefully considering the Bill, brought it in. He knew nothing about it, and as a result of the overwhelming opposition of the Committee and of the case that was made to the Minister at the time it was withdrawn. I think the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer was there at the time, and it was withdrawn. Again there was an opportunity on the Report stage, but no organisation of those concerned in the trade came forward with a request for this Amendment. The Bill went right through this House to the House of Lords, and then, at the last moment, on the Report stage in the House of Lords, this Amendment was brought in.

The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) has told us that, on approaching the hon. Member who had put the Amendment down during the Committee stage upstairs and asking him who was behind it, he mentioned a certain hon. Member who represents, as we know, not only the Harrow Division (Sir I. Salmon), but a very big industry also. Only one person wanted it. There was no organised opinion in its favour at all.

Sir P. Hannon


Mr. Broad

Is that true?

Sir P. Hannon

On a point of Order. Is it in accordance, Sir, with the procedure of this House to direct a personal reference of that kind to a particular hon. Member of this House?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I think the whole thing is unfortunate—to pick out individual members for discussion of their business. Hon. Members must take their share of responsibility in consequence of the part they play in this House, but reference, whether favorable or otherwise, to special businesses in regard to this matter is undesirable.

Mr. Broad

I was only following the example of the hon. Member opposite.

Mr. Davidson

On a point of Order. In view of your statement, Sir, that the whole thing is unfortunate, could we ask that the House be given an opportunity for hearing the hon. Member who has been so attacked?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That is no point of order. Mr. Broad.

Mr. Broad

All of us in the Committee had communications from various organisations on special points, and we were all at a loss to know where the influence had come from to put that particular Amendment down, and on making inquiries we were told. It has been mentioned previously, and no exception was then taken to it. No representations were made to the Minister from any organisa- tion, but afterwards inquiries were made by the Home Office, and the Under-Secretary of State has mentioned a particular co-operative society, which would indicate that the Co-operative movement wanted this Amendment. As a matter of fact, the strongest opposition to it would come from the organised Co-operative movement, with its over 4,000,000 members in this country, and I do not like statements made which appear to convey that you have the Co-operative societies behind this Amendment. The Department approached the master bakers, and not they him, and I suppose they said, "We do not mind," and that sort of thing, but they have not asked for this, and nobody has asked for it up till now but the representative of one very big firm.

It is not right that this Clause should have been brought in in this way when we have had no opportunity of consulting our organisations, and they have had no chance of making representations. For the other place to bring it in at the last moment in the interests of one or two particular firms which are represented in this House with no proper discussion of it such as we had in Committee, is an abuse of the privileges of Parliament. I hope the Minister will realise that there is something more concerned in this than the two extra hours a day for certain young women; it is that there should be no suspicion of any wire-pulling by certain interests and of the Home Office becoming the tout of a particular individual. That is what we protest against, and I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was in charge of this Bill when it was in Committee, will realise that the way in which this matter has been put forward is not to the credit of the Government and of the Department.

12.7 a.m.

Mr. Rhys Davies

I am sure that the Government are now well aware of the strong opposition to this new clause. I am a little astonished at what has transpired at the very end of this Bill. We have this evening been faced with two reactionary Clauses which were introduced in the other place. one sponsored by the spokesman of the Government, and the other by private individuals. The Government have seen fit to withdraw their own Clause, but they intend to champion the Clause that was promoted by private interests. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was in charge of the Bill on the Committee stage, and I am sure he does not feel happy that the House of Commons should be faced with a new Clause about which not a word was uttered on the Committee stage. It is almost an abuse of the privileges of the House that we should be dealt with in this way.

Let me point out what this means. It is assumed by some speakers that the total number of hours a week to be worked by these women is 48, because that is the maximum in one Clause, but another Clause permits 100 hours of overtime for them. As the Bill stood the 10 hours to be worked would be between seven in the morning and eight in the evening. What this Clause does is to extend that period and say that these hours shall be worked between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. That means that a girl of 18 can be called upon to work from six in the morning till—well at any rate she can be called upon to be in the bakery from six in the morning until six in the evening on certain days. She works only 10 hours, I agree, but the period of employment is from six in the morning till nine in the evening, and that is not a fair proposition to put forward in the year 1937.

I was a little surprised when the hon. Member for Bolton (Sir J. Haslam) took the line he did this evening, because he has not supported the Government on all their proposals. When he says that there is a demand for this change, what bothers me is, where that demand was when all the other demands were being put for-

>ward. We had demands from all quarters. The vested interests were so vocal that we could almost see them supplying drafts of speeches for hon. Members in Committee. I do not want to make an attack on the hon. Member for Harrow (Sir I. Salmon), but his silence is very eloquent. I leave it at that. I do not altogether understand who were the instigators of this new Clause. I am always prepared to listen to the voices of those here who, though they may represent vested interests, know what they are talking about. That is allowable in Parliament. But I have looked up the record of the Debates in another place, and I find that some of those who were behind this new Clause know nothing of baking. I have looked up the history of one of them and find that he has never touched baking in his life. He served in the Diplomatic Service in Petrograd, Constantinople and Peking. He was a brigade major of the Brigade of Guards and he was in the Dardanelles and later was military attaché in Egypt, and, unless I am mistaken, he is a director of the Gas Light and Coke Company. He does not know very much about baking. We have helped to make this a very good Bill and we on this side are very sorry that the last thing the Government do in connection with the Bill is to put forward this reactionary proposal.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 101; Noes, 71.

Division No. 321.] YES. 12.13 a.m.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Loftus, P. C.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Fleming, E. L. Lyons, A. M.
Atholl, Duchess of Fremantle, Sir F. E. McCorquodale, M. S.
Boulton, W. W. Furness, S. N. McEwen Capt. J. H. F.
Bull, B. B. Fyfe, D. P. M. McKie, J. H.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley) Macquisten, F. A.
Cartland, J. R. H. Grant-Ferris, R. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Carver, Major W. H. Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Markham, S. F.
Cary, R. A. Grafton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Gridley, Sir A. B. Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.
Channon, H. Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Munro, P.
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Guy, J. C. M. Nall, Sir J.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Hartington, Marquess of Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Palmer, G. E. H.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Perkins, W. R. D.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Plugge, Capt. L. F.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Radford, E. A.
Cross, R. H. Hutchinson, G. C. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M
Crowder, J. F. E. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Rankin, Sir R.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
De Chair, S. S. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Dugdale, Captain T. L. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Duggan, H. J. Liddall, W. S. Remer, J. R.
Eastwood, J. F. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Lloyd, G. W. Ropner, Colonel L.
Rowlands, G. Spears, Brigadier-General E. L. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Royds, Admiral P. M. R. Spens, W. P. Wakefield, W. W.
Salmon, Sir I. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'I'd) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Scott, Lord William Strauss, H. G. (Norwich) Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Selley, H. R. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Shute, Colonel Sir J. J. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourn[...]) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. Thomson, Sir J. D. W. Mr. Grimston and Captain
Smith, L. W. (Hallam) Touche, G. C. Waterhouse.
Adamson, W. M. Gallacher, W. Maxton, J.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'Isbr.) Gardner, B. W. Messer, F.
Ammon, C. G. Gibson, R. (Greenock) Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Grenfell, D. R. Pritt, D. N.
Barr, J. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Riley, B.
Bellenger, F. J. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Ritson, J.
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Broad, F. A. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Sexton, T. M.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Simpson, F. B.
Buchanan, G. Harris, Sir P. A. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Burke, W. A. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Smith, E. (Stoke)
Butcher, H. W. Hayday, A. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Charleton, H. C. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Sorensen, R. W.
Cooks, F. S. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Stephen, C.
Daggar. G. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Dalton. H. Jagger, J. Tinker, J. J.
Davidson, J, J. (Maryhill) Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) White, H. Graham
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Wilkinson, Ellen
Davies, S.O. (Merthyr) Kelly, W. T. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Dobbie, W. Kirby, B. V. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Lathan, G. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Ede, J. C. Lawson, J. J.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) McEntee, V. La T. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Mander, G. le M. Mr. Mathers and Mr. Banfield.
Foot, D. M. Marshall, F.

Lords Amendment, in page 124, line 20, leave out "Part VI of," agreed to.

CLAUSE 93.—(Exceptions as to the preserving of fish, fruit and vegetables.)

Lords Amendment: In page 74, line 32, after "preserving," insert "canning."

12.21 a.m.

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

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

This Clause relates to the employment of women and young persons in processes connected with the preserving of certain perishable articles of food, namely, fish, fruit and vegetables. In the corresponding Section of the existing Act the words used in reference to fish are "the preserving or curing of fish," and these words have been interpreted by the courts as including those preliminary processes in canning which require to be carried out quickly if the goods are not to be spoiled. The words which come immediately afterwards in Clause 93 refer expressly to the canning of fruit or vegetables, and, in order to prevent the courts from giving a different interpretation now, it is necessary to insert the word "canning" in relation to fish. But the insertion of this word will only apply, as is laid down in the last two lines of Subsection (1): where such processes require to be carried out without delay in order to prevent goods from being spoiled. The effect, therefore, will therefore be not to make any appreciable alteration.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 75, line 8, agreed to.

CLAUSE 95.—(Exception relating to male young persons employed in bakehouses.)

Lords Amendment: Leave out Clause 95.

12.23 a.m.

Mr. Lloyd

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

I am glad to move to agree with this Amendment, which is a concession to the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield).

Mr. Banfield

I should like to express to the Under-Secretary my thanks for this concession. It is rate and refreshing fruit indeed for me.

CLAUSE 99.—(Certificate of fitness for employment of young persons.)

Lords Amendment: In page 80, line 5, at the end, insert: (5) Where the examining surgeon so directs in the certificate, any such condition as aforesaid shall, so far as relates to the employment in respect of which the certificate was issued or other employment in a factory in the occupation of the same occupier, con- tinue to have effect after the young person has attained the age of sixteen; but unless such a direction is made, the condition shall cease to have effect when the young person attains the age of sixteen, and shall in any case cease to have effect when the young person attains the age of eighteen. (6) Where a certificate under this section is subject to a condition requiring re-examination after an interval specified in the certificate, the examining surgeon on such re-examination may vary the certificate or may revoke the certificate as from such date as he may direct; and, if the certificate of a young person is revoked before he attains the age of sixteen, he shall not remain in any employment to which the certificate relates, and sub-section (1) of this section shall thereafter have effect as if no certificate had been issued in respect of that young person.

12.25 a.m.

The Lord Advocate

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

This Amendment, and those Amendments which immediately follow it in page 80, are all designed to achieve one purpose. As the Bill is at present drafted, when the certificate of fitness is granted by the examining surgeon for the young person, the conditions attached to the certificate can only be made applicable to the young person after attaining the age of 16 if the young person is required to come back for re-examination. The whole purpose of the re-draft is to ensure that such conditions may be extended beyond the age of 16 without the necessity of bringing the person back for re-examination, if for instance he suffers from some obvious physical defect which does not require re-examination. The result is slightly to tighten up the Bill and provide further protection for the young person.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 80, line 37, agreed to.

CLAUSE 101.—(Tenement Factories.)

Lords Amendment: In page 82, line 17, leave out from the second "fire" to "and," in line 19.

The Lord Advocate

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

I propose to explain this and the Amendments that follow on this and the next page together, because they all relate to the same point. At all stages of the Bill the endeavour has been made to impose on the owner of a tenement factory all the obligations that arise out of structural defects or defects of machinery supplied by the owner and, as regards the rest of the provisions of the Statute, to impose them upon the occupier. After careful and close examination of the provisions it has been found desirable slightly to modify the way in which that allocation of responsibility has been expressed, and the re-draft of the Clause is designed to that end. At the same time it has been found that so many special features are presented by tenement factories of this kind that it is really quite unsafe to rely upon any general provision to cover them. Accordingly it is proposed to insert in line 19, at the end: (3) The Secretary of State may by special regulations modify the provisions of this Section in their application to any class or description of tenement factory, and those provisions shall also be subject to any regulations made under any enactment repealed by this Act

12.29 a.m.

Mr. Kelly

Why are the words in lines 17 to 19 being struck out, referring to the fact that structural alterations may he required.

The Lord Advocate

The striking out of those, and further words in line 22, is merely preliminary to re-inserting substantially the same provision in line 5, page 83. The effect is to re-impose in better form upon the owner of the tenement the obligation to answer for structural defects which had previously been imposed upon him in part. This is purely drafting and the hon. Member may accept my assurance that the result of the Amendments read together is to impose upon the owner the liability for structural defects.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 83, line 19, agreed to.

CLAUSE 103.—(Application of Act to electrical transformer and converter stations.)

Lords Amendment: In page 84, line 6, leave out Clause 103, and insert:

NEW CLAUSE D.—(Application of Act to electrical stations.) —(1) The provisions of this Act shall apply to any premises in which persons are regularly employed in or in connection with the processes or operations of generating, transforming or converting, or of switching, controlling or otherwise regulating, electrical energy for supply by way of trade, or for supply for the purposes of any transport undertaking or other industrial or commercial undertaking or of any public building or public institution, or for supply to streets or other public places, as if the premises were a factory and the employer of any person employed in the premises in or in connection with any such process or operation were the occupier of a factory. (2) The provisions of this Act hereinafter in this subsection mentioned shall apply to any other premises in which any such processes or operations as aforesaid are carried on or performed for such supply as aforesaid, being premises large enough to admit the entrance of a person after the machinery or plant therein is in position, as if the premises were a factory and the employer of any person employed in the premises in or in connection with any such process or operation were the occupier of a factory, that is to say:— (a) the provisions of Part IV with respect to special regulations for safety and health; (b) Part V; (c) the provisions of Part XI with respect to powers and duties of inspectors and regulations and orders of the Secretary of State; (d) Part XII; (e) Part XIII; (f) Part XIV. (3) The Secretary of State may by special regulations apply any of the provisions of this Act mentioned in the last foregoing subsection to any machinery or plant used elsewhere than in premises mentioned in that subsection or in subsection (1) hereof, being machinery or plant used in the aforesaid processes or operations and for such supply as aforesaid, as if the machinery or plant were machinery or plant in a factory, and the employer of any person employed in connection with any such use of the machinery or plant were the occupier of a factory. (4) Subsections (1) and (2) of this section shall not, except in so far as the Secretary of State may by special regulations direct, apply to any premises where the aforesaid processes or operations are only carried on or performed for the immediate purpose of working an electric motor or working any apparatus which consumes electrical energy for lighting, heating, transmitting or receiving messages or communications, or other purposes. (5) For the purposes of the definition in section one hundred and fifty-three of this Act of the expression 'factory,' electrical energy shall not be deemed to be an article, but save as aforesaid nothing in this section shall affect the application of this Act to factories within the meaning of that definition.

12.30 a.m.

Mr. Lloyd

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

This is merely a concession on a point made earlier and has been drafted with employers.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 90, line 39, agreed to.

Mr. Speaker

The Amendments to pages 92, 93 and 94 are, I understand, all drafting Amendments, and I propose to put them en bloc.

Mr. Ede

I suggest that the Amendment on page 93, line 20, to leave out "fourteen" and insert "eighteen," should not be put with the others unless it is a misprint. Can the Lord Advocate say whether this is to correct a misprint?

Mr. Speaker

I will put them together with the exception of that Amendment.

Mr. Buchanan

Can the Lord Advocate explain that Amendment now?

12.31 a.m.

The Lord Avocate

Roughly speaking, I think it is a misprint. The words in the Bill refer to all persons who had not attained the age of 14. That has no relevance now as the age of young persons is fixed at 16. The Amendment is really correcting a misprint.

Mr. Speaker

The next block I will put covers the Amendments from page 97 to page 117.

The Lord Advocate

All these Amendments are drafting Amendments, but I shall be happy to answer any questions on them.

Mr. Kelly

With regard to the Amendment to page 102, line 41, we are now inserting a reference to a particular Section of the Act, but why limit it? Is there any reason why that reference is inserted rather than the words previously given, as far as the inspection of factories and persons employed therein is concerned? This has the appearance of being a weakening of the Bill.

The Lord Advocate

The answer is that these Amendments are purely consequential on the fact that we have inserted in the Bill a new Clause—Clause 98—which is the one that regulates the employment of young persons in certain occupations, and it is therefore necessary, as a matter of drafting, to alter the phraseology on page 102 in order to extend the powers of inspectors to cover these additional activities under Clause 98. The effect of this, so far from weakening the Bill, is to strengthen it and make it comprehensive in this particular respect.

Mr. Kelly

Why is there this deletion in page 117, line 37, to leave out sub-paragraph (1) with regard to electrical energy which is generated, converted or transformed?

The Lord Advocate

The answer is that the sub-paragraph is now unnecessary in view of the new Clause dealing with the application of the Act to electrical stations which the Under-Secretary moved a few moments ago. The new provision covers the ground previously covered by sub-paragraph (1), so this is consequential.

Mr. Speaker

We have already passed that one.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 121, line 10, agreed to.

CLAUSE 152.—(General interpretation.)

Lords Amendment: In page 121, line 31, leave out "nine," and insert "sixteen."

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

12.35 a.m.

Mr. Kelly

Why is it that the register is to be confined to Section 116 and why is Section 109, which deals with these children who are employed in lead processes, not to be mentioned? Why are they not to be included in the register? Surely if there is the necessity for registration, it should be those people who are engaged in these small places under conditions which are not so easily supervised as those in the large factories?

The Lord Advocate

The hon. Member is raising a substantial point as regards the Bill, but I can assure him that this particular Amendment is designed purely to correct a printer's error. There was no intention of making any change in the Bill.

Mr. Kelly

Why not have both Clauses in?

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 124, line 13, agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 124, line 19, at the end, insert: Provided that any woman employed solely in cleaning a factory or any part thereof, otherwise than in cleaning which is incidental to or connected with any process, shall not be deemed for the purposes of Part VI of this Act to be employed in the factory.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—[Mr. Lloyd.]

Mr. Kelly

Is this the Amendment dealing with the cleaner? I want to ask why it is that the cleaners are not to be considered as workers in the factory so that all the conditions in this Bill will apply to them if they happen to be engaged there at times when the machinery is not working.

12.41 a.m.

Mr. Lloyd

It has always been the practice under the Factory Acts not to regard charwomen or cleaners as being within the scope of the Acts. If the hon. Member will recall the proceedings in Committee he will remember that Members on his side of the House were very keen that cleaning should not take place within the hours of work, and if cleaning is to be encouraged to take place outside the hours of work it is necessary to have somebody who is not bound by the provisions in the Bill.

The Lord Advocate

All the remaining Lords Amendments, from page 127, line 25, are of a drafting character, and could be put en bloc.

Mr. Speaker

If that meets with the approval of the House, I will put the remaining Amendments.

Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to.

Ordered, "That a Committee be appointed to draw up a reason to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing with one of their Amendments to the Bill."

Committee nominated of Mr. Lloyd, the Lord Advocate, Mr. Palmer, Mr. Rhys Davies, and Mr. Graham White.

Three to be the quorum.—[Mr. Lloyd.]

To withdraw immediately.

Reason for disagreeing with one of the Lords Amendments reported, and agreed to.

To be communicated to the Lords.—[Mr. Lloyd.]

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

It being after Half-past Eleven of the Clock upon Wednesday evening, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned at Sixteen Minutes before One O'Clock.