HC Deb 15 June 1937 vol 325 cc313-35

9.44 P.m.

The Lord Advocate

I beg to move, in page 3, line 10, to leave out "in the same occupation," and to insert: occupied by the person then in occupation or by his successor in the same business. I wish to explain to the House the context in which this Amendment falls to be considered. The purpose of Clause 2 is to deal with overcrowding by providing for a future standard of 400 cubic feet per person subject to a condition which it was necessary to introduce that the standard for a period of five years after the passing of this Measure, should be 250 cubic feet in existing workrooms provided (in the words of the Bill as now drawn), that they were during that period "in the same occupation." I do not wish to anticipate Amendments which have yet to be considered but it is necessary that I should draw attention to one further Amendment which has a bearing upon the present proposal. That is an Amendment which would limit the operation of the Clause to 10 years altogether so that we are only concerned with the existing workrooms, first for a period of five years and then for a second period of five years, making 10 in all.

Dealing with this particular Amendment, the words in the Bill as drawn are "in the same occupation," the result being that the privilege of working on the 250 cubic feet standard would only be available to the person who was the occupier of the factory so long as the factory was in the same occupation. On consideration, however, it has become obvious that these words are too narrow, for this reason, that all sorts of technical alterations in the constitution of a firm or company would result in a change in occupation and in the raising of the 250 cubic feet standard automatically to the 400 cubic feet standard, under circumstances when, according to the conception of the Clause, I do not think anybody desires that that change should take place. For example, if one member of a firm retired, or even if one additional member of a business were made a partner of the firm, or if some financial reconstruction were to take place in a small company, the premises would cease to he technically in the same occupation. I do not think the Committee really intended, from my recollection of their deliberations, that such a technical alteration in occupation should automatically result in the imposition of the higher standard of cubic capacity, and the House will appreciate that if that result did take place, most lamentable consequences might ensue. There might be no room for expansion or extension of the premises, other premises might not be obtained, and the business might come to an end and men be thrown out of employment.

In those circumstances I propose the substitution for the words "in the same occupation" of a formula designed to achieve this result, that the test shall be the continuity of the same business. The result of the Amendment will be that substantial identity of the business will be a sufficient condition to justify premises continuing on the old standard, subject to the provisions of the Bill, for the period of five years after the passing of the Act under the conditions of proviso (a) and for a further five years under the conditions of proviso (b).

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.

Question proposed, "That the proposed words be there inserted in the Bill."

9.49 p.m.

Mr. Rhys Davies

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 2, to leave out: or by his successor in the same business. The cubical contents of a factory should not depend upon a certain business that is conducted in that factory. It seems to us that you could easily find a factory in Lancashire which had been employing 300 people. Supposing that factory has gone to some other owner, who then employs 400 people instead of 300 in the manufacture, we will say, of slippers, is there any sense in altering the cubical contents of that factory simply because the business has changed hands?

9.50 p.m.

Mr. Silverman

I beg to second the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.

It seems to me that the proposed Amendment moved by the Government is quite unnecessary. What was designed in the Clause originally was that there should be some limit of time beyond which the new requirements of the Act should become operative, and one of the concessions which was made was that at any rate while the business remained in the same hands, under the same control, in the same ownership, there should not be an obligation to introduce alterations which in some cases would no doubt be drastic and costly. The Committee upstairs was more or less prepared, somewhat reluctantly perhaps, to accept that position. What is suggested in the Government's Amendment is that the Clause should be weakened, that the period of time allowed for adjustments should be prolonged, and that wherever there was a change in the constitution of the company or firm owning the factory or business which would amount technically to a change in the occupation, then on that ground the period during which the Act remained inoperative should be extended.

There is really no reason in the world why the House should consent to that. If a business is being reconstructed, if, for instance, a company—and most large businesses nowadays are limited companies—is being wound up and reformed, if the business is being reconstructed in that sense, so that it ceases to be in the same occupation, surely that is the ideal time to say, "Well, you are reconstructing your business, you are rearranging your finances, you are altering the scope of your business in ways to suit the convenience of the financial interests in the business, and this is the proper time to reconstruct your factory, to bring yourselves into line with the new requirements of the new legislation." It was one thing to say you ought not to impose suddenly on a company that has been running in the bad old way for a long time some drastic reconstruction. There may have been some reason in that, and we felt compelled to accept it upstairs, but surely the Bill has enough timorosity in it, enough doubts, hesitations, "ifs," "ands" and "buts" in it, without coming along and saying, "The Committee upstairs has done everything reasonable in the matter; let us take advantage of that excess of reasonableness on the part of the Opposition and see what further advantage and delay we can impose."

When the right hon. and learned Gentleman says there may be quite a lot of technical changes which are not really changes at all, and therefore the Clause ought to be amended, does he not see what a boomerang that argument is? If you say that a technical alteration which has the legal effect of altering the occupation without being really a change at all is to carry with it the right to continue those bad old ways, to remain behind the legislation that we are now enacting, look how you place in the hands of the unwilling and reluctant factory owner a very easy means of escape, or at any rate of prolonging the agony and putting off the evil day on which he will have to bring his factory into line with the new conditions that this Bill is designed to bring about. If the change is technical, involving no real change, the arguments that the right hon. and learned Gentleman advanced in support of the Amendment is the reason the House should reject it.

9.56 p.m.

Mr. Leslie Boyce

I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will not give way to the Opposition. My right hon. and learned Friend has made the all important point of drawing a distinction between a partnership and a limited liability company. In the case of a limited liability company the mere fact that it is a limited company gives it in law a legal personality, and although the actual shareholders may be changing every day every time the stock market opens, it would under this Bill remain under the same ownership. In the case of a partnership, if one partner dies and another succeeds, that, under this Bill, will be a change of ownership. Obviously, if we are to be consistent, the case that has been made out by the Lord Advocate is one that the House must support.

9.57 p.m.

Wing-Commander Wright

Those who oppose this Amendment have missed the real object that lies behind it, and what they want might result in very serious hardship to the workers themselves. Take the case of a comparatively small business which did not comply with the conditions at which we are trying to arrive. The owner might die and his executors might be willing to carry on the business, but would not be prepared to face the comparatively large capital expenditure which might be necessary in order to bring about the improved conditions. Therefore, it might be that a successful small business which in due time, during the period of the five years, could achieve the object of the Clause, might actually shut down simply because the executors were not prepared to find the capital to make the necessary changes. That is a point which ought to be borne in mind.

9.58 p.m.

Mr. White

The House has to make up its mind about the length of time the 250 cubic feet should he allowed to obtain, and the vital point for most of us is that the period should be as short as possible. Arguments have been brought forward showing that the time of reconstruction

might be the best time to bring about the change. On the other hand, if the change of ownership arises from a death it might be the worst possible time. I should like to ask my right hon. and learned Friend whether it is not the case that the only substantial difference in the Clause as now drafted if the Amendment were accepted would be that there would be a limited time of 10 years, whereas, when we left the Bill upstairs, there was an unlimited time, and that consequently the Clause will be stronger than it was.

10.0 p.m.

The Lord Advocate

That, of course, is one of the most important points in considering this Amendment. I did not wish when moving the Amendment to anticipate the Amendment still to be moved, but I did draw attention to the fact, and I again do so, that when this Clause was under consideration by the Committee upstairs, the underlying idea was that there might be an indefinite prolongation of the 250 cubic feet for the existing factory, and it was in that relationship that the idea "in the same occupation" was introduced. The matter is now on a different footing if the Amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend further down is carried. We allow first a period of five years during which there may or may not be a requirement by the inspector for the supply of suitable mechanical ventilation. Then there will be a second period of five years during which there must be mechanical ventilation. At the end of that second period of five years the exemption from the requirements of the Bill will necessarily cease. It is only for that limited period that this question of "the same occupation" is relevant at all, and it is for the House to consider whether, when we speak of the same occupation, we intend that it is to be applicable to a case where the business remains the same, or to a case where for some such technical accident as a change in partnership the legal occupancy changes.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 219; Noes, 107.

Division No. 218.] AYES. [10.2 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Assheton, R.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Aske, Sir R. W. Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Hannah, I. C. Radford, E. A.
Barrie, Sir C. C. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle) Ramsbotham, H.
Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury) Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Ramsden, Sir E.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Rankin, Sir R.
Beit, Sir A. L. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)
Bernays, R. H. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan Rayner, Major R. H.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Hepworth, J. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Boulton, W. W. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Boyce, H. Leslie Higgs, W. F. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
Brass, Sir W. Holdsworth, H. Ropner, Colonel L.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Holmes, J. S. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Hopkinson, A. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Horsbrugh, Florence Rowlands, G.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Russell, Sir Alexander
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Hudson, R. S. (Southport) Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Bull, B. B. Hulbert, N. J. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Campbell, Sir E. T. Hume, Sir G. H. Salmon, Sir I.
Cartland, J. R. H. Hunter, T. Salt, E. W.
Carver, Major W. H. Joel, D. J. B. Samuel M. R. A.
Cary, R. A. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Castlereagh, Viscount Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Sandys, E. D.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Seely, Sir H. M.
Channon, H. Keeling, E. H. Selley, H. R.
Chorlton, A. E. L. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Shakespeare, G. H.
Christie, J. A. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Clarry, Sir Reginald Latham, Sir P. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Leckie, J. A. Simmonds, O. E.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Lees-Jones, J. Smith, L. W. (Hallam)
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Leighton, Major B. E. P. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Crooke, J. S. Lewis, O. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Liddall, W. S. Spens, W. P.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Little, Sir E. Graham Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Cross, R. H. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Cruddas, Col. B. Lloyd, G. W. Strauss, H, G. (Norwich)
Culverwell, C. T. Loftus, P. C. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Drewe, C. McCorquodale, M. S. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Dugdale, Captain T. L. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Tate, Mavis C.
Duggan, H. J. Magnay, T. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Duncan, J. A. L. Maitland, A. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Dunglass, Lord Mander, G. le M. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Eastwood, J. F. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hen. H. D. R. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Eckersley, P. T. Markham, S. F. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Turton, R. H.
Ellis, Sir G. Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham) Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Elliston, Capt. G. S. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Emery, J. F. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick) Warrender, Sir V.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Everard, W. L. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Wayland, Sir W. A
Foot, D. M. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Wells, S. R.
Fremantle, Sir F. E. Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. White, H. Graham
Furness, S. N. Munro, P. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Fyfe, D. P. M. Nall Sir J. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Ganzoni, Sir J. Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley) Orr-Ewing, I. L. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. Owen, Major G. Wise, A. R.
Gledhill, G. Palmer, G. E. H. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Gluckstein, L. H. Peake, O. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Gower, Sir R. V. Peat, C. U. Wragg, H.
Grant-Ferris, R. Perkins, W. R. D. Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.
Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Gridley, Sir A. B. Pilkington, R.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Ponsonby, Col. C. E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Grimston, R. V. Procter, Major H. A. Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward
Guy, J. C. M. Purbrick, R. and Major Sir George Davies.
Adams, D. (Consett) Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Dalton, H.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Buchanan, G. Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)
Adamson, W. M. Burke, W. A. Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Cape, T. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Charleton, H. C. Day, H.
Banfield, J. W. Chater, D. Dobbie, W.
Barnes, A. J. Cluse, W. S. Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)
Batey, J. Cocks, F. S. Ede, J. C.
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)
Bromfield, W. Daggar, G. Gallacher, W.
Gardner, B. W. Lunn, W. Short, A.
Garro Jones, G. M. McEntee, V. La T. Silverman, S. S.
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) McGhee, H. G. Simpson, F. B.
Green, W. H. (Deptford) MacLaren, A. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Marshall, F. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Mathers, G. Sorensen, R. W.
Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Maxton, J. Stephen, C.
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Messer, F. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Milner, Major J. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Montague, F. Thurtle, E.
Hills, A. (Pontefract) Muff, G. Tinker, J. J.
Hollins, A. Nathan, Colonel H. L. Viant, S. P.
Hopkin, D. Naylor, T. E. Walkden, A. G.
Jagger, J. Noel-Baker, P. J. Walker, J.
Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Oliver, G. H. Watkins, F. C.
Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Paling, W. Watson, W. McL.
Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Parkinson, J. A. Westwood, J.
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. Wilkinson, Ellen
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Price, M. P. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Pritt, D. N. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Lathan, G. Quibell, D. J. K. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Lawson, J. J. Richards, R. (Wrexham) Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Leash, W. Ridley, G. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Lee, F. Riley, B.
Leonard, W. Ritson, J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Leslie, J. R. Rowson, G. Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Groves.
Logan, D. G. Sexton, T. M.

Proposed words there inserted in the Bill.

10.10 p.m.

Colonel Sandeman Allen

I beg to move, in page 3, line 15, after "mechanical," to insert "or induced."

This is an Amendment which was not called in Committee, but which raises a matter which was in the minds of some hon. Members, and that is the question of whether we could allow an alternative to mechanical ventilation. Induced ventilation can be very good. I wish to know from the Home Office whether they have investigated in the interval the question which was brought up in Committee. The Under-Secretary promised that he would look into the matter further to see whether in any particular circumstances induced ventilation could be regarded as a practicable alternative. I am not going to press the matter, but I hope that in the interim the question has been investigated, and that if there is an alternative device which can be used that its use will be permitted.

Mr. Sandys

I beg to second the Amendment.

10.12 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

As promised, this question has been investigated since the Committee stage, but I am afraid that we cannot accept the Amendment. It is most important that the ventilation system should be efficient, and our technical advisers inform us that it is not really possible to be sure of getting efficient ventilation by a mere method of induction without a mechanical appliance. Therefore, it is better to retain the words "mechanical appliance," which are in the Bill, especially as I am advised that the words "induced ventilation" would really cover the draught going up a chimney induced by an ordinary coal fire. We wish the ventilation of factories to be on a more substantial basis, arid I cannot accept the Amendment.

Colonel Sandeman Allen

In view of the Under-Secretary's statement, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.40 p.m.

Sir S. Hoare

I beg to move, in page 3, line 24, after "room," to insert "for a further period of five years."

Here is an Amendment which I feel will meet with the approval of every section of the House. It shows none of the timorosities to which one of the hon. Members opposite recently made a picturesque allusion. It comes about as a result of the discussions in Standing Committee, when it was pointed out that some restriction ought to be put upon the period during which the smaller amount of cubic space should be allowed in existing factories. My right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate has already explained upon a previous Amendment the scope of this Amendment. In a sentence or two, it was suggested in the original proposals of the Bill that existing factories be left as they were, and only after a period of five years was the condition to be imposed upon them of mechanical ventilation. Now, in the first place, the inspectors are authorised to insist upon mechanical ventilation at once, in cases where that is needed; secondly, after a period of five years, we make the mechanical ventilation compulsory generally, and, thirdly, and most important of all, we put a definite time-limit of 10 years, during which these concessions are allowed. I hope that this Amendment will meet with the approval of hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Amendment agreed to.

10.16 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

I beg to move, in page 3, line 26, at the end, to insert: (3) The chief inspector may by certificate except from the provisions of the last foregoing subsection, subject to any conditions specified in the certificate, any workroom in which explosive materials are manufactured or handled, if he is satisfied that owing to the special conditions under which the work is carried on the application of those provisions would be in appropriate or unnecessary. This new Sub-section proposes to exempt the exceptional case of certain workrooms used for the manufacture of explosives, where mechanical ventilation might give rise to certain dangers. For example, friction might be set up by such appliances. Some of the buildings are constructed in an entirely special manner for the purpose of the safe production of explosives, such as little huts spaced apart in order to separate the risks. That means that the ventilation in those small individual workrooms, in the form of an ample supply of fresh air, is particularly efficient. It would be advisable to have this power of exempting these special workrooms used for the purpose of making explosives.

Mr Rhys Davies

This is a new provision, which was not in the original draft of the Bill. Our attention was called to this problem during the proceedings of the Committee. Some of us have looked into it, and we agree with practically all that the hon. Gentleman has said about explosives factories.

10.17 p.m.

Mr. E. Smith

I have sat upon hundreds of committees but never have I sat upon one which was handled in the same way as was the Commitee on this Bill by the two representatives of the Government. They were the most cautious, tactful, persuasive, and dis- arming pair I have ever known. Therefore a new proposal of this character makes me immediately suspicious. I want to ask what organisations asked for this exemption to be inserted. Who are the people who brought to bear upon the Home Office and the Government with a view to having this exemption inserted? The Bill is already full of exemptions. I have been present at a large number of conferences at which this Bill has been considered, and it has been the one outstanding criticism, wherever we went, that the Bill was full of provisos and of suggestions for granting certificates of exemption. An hon. Member on this side of the House pointed out, in an article in a leading newspaper this week that the Bill is full of "ifs" and "buts." When a suggestion of this character is made, we ought to be on our guard upon this side of the House. Here is another proposal for granting a certificate of exemption. If the principle of granting certificates of exemption is right in cases of this kind, why should not other employers ask for certificates of exemption in their particular cases? The hon. Member for Bolton (Sir J. Haslam) says that they are not Liberal. I am not concerned as to what political party is behind this, but as to the organisations that are behind it, the monopoly that is behind it, and the pressure which a particular monopoly in this country has brought in order to get this inserted. Therefore, I hope that we on these benches will divide the House on this issue, because I am convinced that this is not the will of the country or of the House, but is an attempt by a monopoly to bring pressure to bear on the Government.

10.21 p.m.

Miss Wilkinson

The Under-Secretary has not been very specific as to whether there are to be any safeguards for ventilation in these small huts where the manufacture of explosive material way be carried on. I believe that during the last War cases occurred, in the comparatively small huts used for the making of explosive material, where the ventilation was very bad, and as a result there were explosions. As far as I read the Amendment, there is no guarantee that these small huts will have satisfactory ventilation except in so far as the chief inspector may lay down conditions. That might be an adequate safeguard for normal condi- tions, but, by its very nature, this Clause will deal with abnormal conditions, even war conditions, or, if the emergency is not one of war, it may be an emergency of hurry to carry out rush orders. I am not casting any reflection on the chief inspector, but in such circumstances he might find himself in a position in which it would be difficult for him to refuse a certificate which may in effect mean having to trust to luck that the lack of ventilation will not be such as to cause an explosion.

10.23 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

I assure the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. E. Smith) that there is really nothing sinister in this Amendment. With regard to the question of the hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson), she will have noticed the phrase in the Amendment, subject to any conditions specified in the certificate, and I can certainly assure her that there will be no wholesale use of exemptions. Definite conditions will be laid down, and it will be the concern of the Home Office to see that only those relaxations are allowed which are necessary.

10.24 p.m.

Mr. Batey

I was not on the Committee which considered this Bill, and so have had to be content with listening to the Debate, but this is an Amendment which strikes me as rather peculiar. We have here a new united front of the Government and the Liberal party, and it is rather strange that the Liberal party are not saying a word in regard to the Amendment, but are leaving all the fighting to be done by the Government. There must have been some reason for Liberal members putting their names to this Amendment, and one would like to hear the reasons for the Amendment. It is difficult to understand it. The Under-Secretary has not attempted to clear away the doubts in regard to the Amendment. If it is necessary to prescribe the amount of ventilation for a good factory, we ought to be making provision for ventilation where explosives are made. I could not understand the Under-Secretary saying it might not be wise to have the same amount of ventilation where explosives are made as in other factories. The Government should tell us what is behind the Amendment. Is the rumour true that it came from the Imperial Chemical Industries? We ought to know far more about it before we agree to what appears to be an important Amendment. I consider that, wherever explosives are made, there ought to be as much ventilation as possible and, if it is necessary to have it in other factories, it is certainly necessary where explosives are made.

10.27 p.m.

Mr. H. G. Williams

I think on balance the Amendment is probably a good one. The hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Short) will remember that in the constituency for which he was the Member when I was a prospective candidate there took place a most horrible explosion in which some 15 of his constituents were killed and another 15 were removed in a most distressing condition to a local hospital because the normal conditions applicable to an explosives factory were not observed. It is true that on first reading the Amendment suggests that the conditions applicable to a normal factory are not going to be applied to an explosives factory and that we are going to make the law less strong, but it says subject to any conditions specified in the certificate. It really provides that an entirely new code may be applied in those circumstances. That is my reading of the Amendment. It is a recognition of the fact that you cannot have for an explosives factory the same conditions as are suitable for another factory. I remember going to see the poor girls in the hospital and being horrified with what I saw when got there, and I determined that if anything could be done to prevent a recurrence of that kind of thing I should like to play some part in it. The whole significance of the Amendment is in the words subject to any condition specified in the certificate, and I think the House would be well advised to accept it.

10.29 p.m.

Mr. Buchanan

The hon. Member did not read the last part of the Amendment, if he is satisfied that owing to the special conditions under which the work is carried on the application of those provisions would be inappropriate or unnecessary. There would be good reason for it if it enabled more stringent regulations to be applied, but there are these limiting words, that he has to be satisfied that the regulations already operating are not necessary. That is where he is limited in power.

Mr. H. G. Williams

Take the case of a factory where explosives are made. They are isolated. You might have a small room 6 feet by 6 feet by 10 feet high, that is, 360 cubic feet, which is less than the 400 mentioned. It might be very desirable that two persons should be simultaneously in that small room, which is isolated from all the other buildings.

Mr. Buchanan

But the inspector is not allowed to deal with the situation in the way he wants. He is only allowed to make it, in actual fact, less than it is. The Amendment makes it clear that, owing to the special conditions under which the work is carried out, the application of that provision would be inappropriate or unnecessary.

Mr. Williams

In the particular small room that I have described not more than one person would be permitted under the provision contained in the sixth line in page 3 of the Bill. It might be very desirable that two persons should be simultaneously in a small room of that kind, and, in other words, it would be out of order.

Mr. Buchanan

I cannot see the argument. If his argument be true, that explosives are different from other things, then explosives should not be dealt with here. Explosives factories are different from, say, confectionery works or laundries, and should be dealt with in a section appropriate to explosives alone. Hon. Members who sat in Committee know that we have special Clauses dealing with laundries, and if the argument of the hon. Gentleman is true, the way to deal with explosives is to deal with them separately and draw up another code of regulations, but we do not do that. The more I read the Amendment, the more certain I am that behind it there is more than meets the eye. I say frankly to the hon. Gentleman, that it is not fair for him to come here and introduce this Amendment in a few scanty words. As far as I can recollect—and I was only absent during one sitting of the Committee—this point was not debated with any great thoroughness in Committee. The hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill left a great deal in the air by saying that he would consider this or that before the Report stage.

In introducing this Amendment maybe he thought that most of us understood it and did not need any explanation, but it is not what he gives in guarantees that matters very much, but what is put into the Bill as the last resort. Very often these things may be the subject of serious litigation in the law courts. As it reads at the moment this is a Clause which has caused misgiving to Members who sit on these benches. It would seem as though the chief inspector was, by this Clause, limited to one function, namely, to give to the owners of explosives factories a scope not given to any other factory owner.

Even if the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams) were correct the words are open to all sorts of interpretations. There is a looseness and vagueness in this provision in regard to explosives factories which we have no right to accept. One might take a risk with a laundry or a pattern shop, but not with an explosives factory. You cannot hand over explosives factories to an inspector in the same way that you can hand over other factories, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider again the giving of power to the factory inspector to weaken the regulations. I would not give power to any inspector to weaken any regulation in regard to an explosives factory. I dislike the Amendment and view it with great suspicion. If the right hon. Gentleman is wise he will not press the Amendment. If his inspectors find, after the Act has come into operation, that there is something more required in regard to explosives factories, then let the right hon. Gentleman come back to the House, but do not let him prematurely take any risks. I was brought up not far from an explosives factory and I can appreciate somewhat the dangers. This is a far more important matter for the work-people than some of us are inclined to think.

10.38 p.m.

Mr. Denman

The minds of some of us would be relieved if the Under-Secretary could assure us that the Clause in relation to ventilation operates fully in respect of these workships. The Clause in relation to ventilation is Clause 4, which makes provision for securing the circulation of fresh air in all factories. This Amendment simply limits the air space, and it provides that in certain circumstances there shall be less air space. If we can be assured that Clause 4 will fully operate, then we know that there will be full and adequate ventilation, and our minds will be greatly relieved.

Mr. Tinker

I do not want to vote against the Amendment unless I am sure of my position. If there is any danger in applying the regulations to a factory of this kind I should be the last to vote against the Amendment, but the Minister ought to take us more into his confidence and let us know that there is some very particular reason for having this Amendment inserted.

10.39 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

I can give the assurance asked for by the hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman). The ventilation Clause will certainly be applied in full. Let me state the position, if I can, a little more clearly. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) is right, and the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams) is not right in regard to the aspect of danger. That can be dealt with under Clause 46 in the special regulations for dangerous trades. It is not a question of danger except in so far as ventilation may be concerned. It may be dangerous to insist on the mechanical ventilation provisions in these particular works. The question is whether the Chief Inspector shall have power to relax these conditions in relation to these particular types of buildings. I understand these huts are very unlike the ordinary factory; they are not a big building, but a small hut standing by itself, and in a position where there is ample ventilation and ample air. The simple question is whether or not the Chief Inspector shall have power to relax the conditions with regard to mechanical ventilation in the case of these particular huts——

Mr. Maxton

It does not mention huts.

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Member asked for an example of the kind of building we have in mind. These are huts in which there are special facilities for ventilation and, therefore, we feel that it is justifiable to make this exemption in proper cases and with proper safeguards.

Mr. Maxton

Does it not mean that every part of the Imperial Chemical Industries plant will be exempted?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think so at all. This is a power to deal with explosive factories; it is not a question of any particular firm.

Mr. Buchanan

We are dealing with a whole factory, whether it is a hut or not.

Mr. Lloyd

We are dealing only with the room in which explosives are manufactured.

10.43 p.m.

Mr. Gallacher

It is quite obvious that the Under-Secretary is not acquainted with explosive factories. I have been in close proximity to an explosive factory for many years and the conditions in them are more unbearable than in any other factories. In these small departments there is the greatest possible need for ventilation and more space. In these huts, where they do particular filling operations, they also require more room for movement. In these explosive factories the idea has been to limit, to economise, space as much as possible, but other developments have taken place, and now the tendency is to get away from the old narrow and very dangerous methods of conducting work in these factories. This is not going to help that development in any way. Whether this work is carried on in a small adjacent building in the form of a hut or in a particular department in the factory itself, the greatest possible measure of space is required to ensure the health of the workers employed. In many of these factories the danger to health is much greater than it is in other occupations which are effectively dealt with so far as ventilation and space are concerned. If the Home Secretary and the Under-Secretary visited some of the factories and saw the conditions in which some of the workers are carrying out these operations, I think that they would not in any circumstances do anything which would in any way limit the ventilation or reduce the space.

10.46 p.m.

Mr. Garro Jones

Although he Under-Secretary has made a very courteous attempt to reassure the House by pointing out that this Amendment would not affect the regulations governing dangerous trades, I think the House ought to ask for a considerably more detailed explanation of the proposal before it passes the Amendment. Surely in the case of the manufacture of explosives, above all things, we ought to be certain that the safety and health regulations are assured. Whatever the Under-Secretary may say, the Amendment relaxes certain safeguards which are thought to be necessary in the case of other trades, but the hon. Gentleman did not give the House a single reason to show that one of the little huts which he described would be any less safe if these provisions applied to it. As the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. Williams) pointed out, it may be necessary that in a certain process an extra man should be allowed to go into the little hut for some safety reason, but the hut would be none the less safe if it complied with the provisions both from the point of view of overcrowding and ventilation.

This is not merely a matter of health or the contraction of diseases, but is a case in which there might be devastating accidents affecting scores of people, because, although the Under-Secretary instanced only the little huts, this Amendment will apply to buildings in which hundreds of people are working. It is true, as has been stated, that there are some firms manufacturing an enormous range of explosive goods the whole of whose operations will be exempted from this Clause if the Amendment is passed. We have not even had a definition of explosives. Are we, for example, to exempt from this Clause all factories in which petroleum is treated or handled? That is an explosive material. Why should we exempt petroleum refineries and so on from the provisions of this Clause? I consider the provisions regarding ventilation to be more necessary in the case of explosives than in the case of any other product. Such things as nitric acid, sulphuric acid——

Mr. H. G. Williams

Are they explosives?

Mr. Garro Jones

I think the hon. Member knows very well that they are components that go into the manufacture of explosives, and, if that be the case, they come within the operation of the Amendment. I sincerely hope that we shall have further explanations from the Under-Secretary before we allow the Amendment to be passed.

10.49 p.m.

Mr. George Balfour

It seems to me that the effectiveness of the whole of this Bill is dependent upon the decisions of the inspectors, and that the inspectors' certificates will largely be evidence as to whether the Bill, when it is an Act, is effective or not. Surely hon. Members opposite can rely upon the discretion of the inspectors as to whether or not suitable and proper provision is made for ventilation in these cases.

10.50 p.m.

Mr. Davidson

The hon. Member who has just spoken has called on hon. Members on this side to state their position, and I think that the Home Secretary, after listening to the Debate on this question, must be very uneasy in his mind as to the effect of this piece of legislation. I want to assure the last speaker that hon. Members on this side of the House prefer definite legislation on this question, instead of trusting in any inspector who may be appointed.

Mr. Balfour

Then is the hon. Member prepared to cut the inspector out of the Bill?

Mr. Davidson

No. The hon. Member, with his friends, is prepared to see that the legislation will protect the inspector and the workpeople from any unforeseen incidents in the future. I want to ask hon. Members, on whichever side of the House they may sit, to try to throw their minds back to the accidents which have happened far too often in the explosives industry. The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams) made a touching reference to an accident of which he had been to a certain extent a witness, and I would ask hon. Members to remember that the accidents in the explosives factories in the past should lead, not to a relaxation of legislation, but to more stringent regulations being made with regard to the safety of the work-people employed. The Under-Secretary made reference to isolated huts. I would draw his attention to the words of the Amendment: any workroom in which explosive materials are manufactured or handled. We know perfectly well that the huts to which he referred are very often merely huts in which the explosives are kept for distribution, and it is not true to say that adequate ventilation and safety are guaranteed by the continuous entrance of people and the doors swinging to and fro. For the Under-Secretary to place this question before the House in such a fashion is to reduce the Amendment to a ridiculous point of view, and I sincerely trust that the Home Secretary will see

that the responsibility for accidents which may occur in this industry in the future will not be on his own shoulders.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 228; Noes, 112.

Division No. 219.] AYES. [10.54 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Furness, S. N. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Fyfe, D. P. M. Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Munro, P.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley) Nall, Sir J.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.
Aske, Sir R. W. Gledhill, G. Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Assheton, R. Gluckstein, L. H. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Grant-Ferris, R. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Granville, E. L. Owen, Major G.
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Peake, O.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Gridley, Sir A. B. Peat, C. U.
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Perkins, W. R. D.
Barrie, Sir C. C. Grimston, R. V. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Guinness, T. L. E. B. Pilkington, R.
Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury) Gunston, Capt. D. W. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Guy, J. C. M. Procter, Major H. A.
Beit, Sir A. L. Hannah, I. C. Purbrick, R.
Bernays, R. H. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Radford, E. A.
Bottom, A. C. Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle) Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Boulton, W. W. Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Ramsay, Captain A. H. M
Boyce, H. Leslie Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Ramsbotham, H.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Ramsden, Sir E.
Brass, Sir W. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Rankin, Sir R.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Hepworth, J. Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Rayner, Major R. H.
Brown, Cot. D. C. (Hexham) Higgs, W. F. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Holdsworth, H. Remer, J. R.
Bull, B. B. Holmes, J. S. Richards, G. W. (Skipton)
Campbell, Sir E. T. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
Cartland, J. R. H. Horsbrugh, Florence Ropner, Colonel L.
Carver, Major W. H. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Cary, R, A. Hudson, R. S. (Southport) Rowlands, G.
Castlereagh, Viscount Hulbert, N. J. Russell, Sir Alexander
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Hume, Sir G. H. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Channon, H. Hunter, T. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Chorlton, A. E. L. Joel, D. J. B. Salmon, Sir I.
Christie, J. A. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Salt, E. W.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Samuel, M. R. A.
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Keeling, E. H. Sandys, E. D.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs) Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Lamb, Sir J. Q. Seely, Sir H. M.
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Latham, Sir P. Selley, H. R.
Cox, H. B. T. Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.) Shakespeare, G. H.
Craven-Ellis, W. Leckie, J. A. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Crooke, J. S. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C Lindsay, K. M. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Simmonds, O. E.
Cross, R. H. Lloyd, G. W. Smith, L. W. (Hallam)
Cruddas, Col. B. Loftus, P. C. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Culverwell, C T. Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Davies, C. (Montgomery) Lyons, A. M. Spens, W. P.
Denman, Hon. R. D. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. McCorqundale, M. S. Storey, S.
Drewe, C. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Strauss, H. G.(Norwich)
Duggan, H. J. McKie, J. H. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Duncan, J. A. L. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Eastwood, J. F. Magnay, T. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Eckersley, P. T. Maitland, A. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Mander, G. le M. Tate, Mavis C.
Ellis, Sir G. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Elliston, Capt. G. S. Markham, S. F. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A, (Padd., S)
Emery, J. F. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham) Train, Sir J.
Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Mills, Major J. D, (New Forest) Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Everard, W. L. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick) Turton, R. H.
Foot, D. M. Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Fremantle, Sir F. E. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Ward, Lieut-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham) Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend) Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R. Wragg, H.
Warrender, Sir V. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.) Wright, Squadron-Loader J. A. C.
Waterhouse, Captain C. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Wayland, Sir W. A Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel G.
Wells, S. R. Wise, A. R. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
White, H. Graham Womersley, Sir W. J. Major Sir George Davies and
Captain Dugdale.
Adams, D. (Consett) Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Price, M. P.
Adamson, W. M. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Pritt, D. N.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Quibell, D. J. K.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Banfield, J. W. Hollins, A. Ridley, G.
Barnes, A. J. Hopkin, D. Riley, B.
Batey, J. Jagger, J. Ritson, J.
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Rowson, G.
Bevan, A. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Sexton, T. M.
Bromfield, W. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Short, A.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Silverman, S. S
Buchanan, G. Kirby, B. V. Simpson, F. B.
Burke, W. A. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Cape, T. Lathan, G. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Charleton, H. C. Lawson, J. J. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Chater, D. Leach, W. Sorensen, R. W.
Cluse, W. S. Lee, F. Stephen, C.
Cocks, F. S. Leonard, W. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Cove, W. G. Leslie, J. R. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Cripps, Hon. Sit Stafford Logan, D. G. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Daggar, G. Lunn, W. Thurtle, E.
Dalton, H. McEntee, V. La T. Tinker, J. J.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) McGhee, H. G. Viant, S. P.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) MacLaren, A. Walkden, A. G.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Marshall, F. Walker, J.
Day, H. Maxton, J. Watkins, F. C.
Dobbie, W. Messer, F. Watson, W. McL.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Milner, Major J. Westwood, J.
Ede, J. C. Montague, F. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Muff, G. Wilkinson, Ellen
Gallacher, W. Nathan, Colonel H. L. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Gardner, B. W. Naylor, T. E. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Garro Jones, G. M. Noel-Baker, P. J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Oliver, G. H. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Paling, W. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Parker, J.
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Parkinson, J. A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Mr. Groves and Mr. Mathers.

Resolution agreed to.

It being after Eleven of the Clock, and objection being taken to further Proceeding, further Consideration of the Bill, as amended, stood adjourned.

Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee) to be further considered To-morrow.