HC Deb 15 June 1937 vol 325 cc237-8

(1) There shall be provided and maintained for the use of employed persons suitable accommodation for clothing not worn during working hours; and such arrangements as are reasonably practicable shall be made for drying such clothing.

(2) The Secretary of State may by order—

  1. (a) prescribe, either generally or as respects any class or description of factory, a standard of suitable accommodation for clothing;
  2. (b) exempt any factory or class or description of factory from any requirement of the foregoing Sub-section where he is satisfied that, having regard to the special conditions under which work is carried on in that factory or class or description of factory, the requirement would be unreasonable.—[Sir S. Hoare.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

5.10 p.m.

Sir S. Hoare

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

Very much the same arguments apply to this Clause as applied to the last Clause, except that the House will see that it is drafted in a more general way, and in that respect is, I imagine, more in harmony with the views of most hon. Members. The history of the Clause is very much the history of the last Clause, namely, that we started with restricting the need of this accommodation to factories and workshops where either dangerous or exceptionally dirty processes were being carried on. The object of this Clause is to extend the provisions to factories and workshops generally. It arises from the discussions in Standing Committee, where a demand came from all sides for further extensions on these lines. Here, again, it is our desire to make the operation of the Clause as comprehensive as possible. Considering the great variety of the factories with which we are dealing, hon. Members will agree, I think, that there must be some power of exemption, some power of elasticity in administration. I think the need for that was accepted in the Standing Committee. If there is not elasticity there will be a great demand for exemptions. The administration of the Clause would then be much more difficult. We feel that as it is drafted it follows the line I took on the first new Clause, namely, to make it of a general character, but with a measure of elasticity in administration.

5.12 p.m.

Mr. Rhys Davies

This new Clause is a great improvement on the status quo and on the Clause which was first introduced. I would, however, make one criticism for the purposes of illustration. This Clause provides accommodation for drying clothing. I would ask for any hon. M ember to give us an illustration of any group of workpeople employed in any factory who will not in winter require facilities for their clothing to be dried. During some part of the year the workmen will almost certainly get their clothing wet. Every factory worker will be affected in that way, and I am curious to know why there should be any exemption at all. I can understand that there may have to be some exemptions in connection with other factory regulations, but an exemption in respect of the drying of clothing I cannot understand at all. I can think of no case where facilities for drying overcoats will not be required at some time during the year.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time.

5.14 p.m.

Mr. Mander

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed new Clause, in line 6, at the end, to insert "and for drying such clothing."

It is very difficult to understand why the Secretary of State should be empowered to prescribe a standard of suitable accommodation for clothing and not also have the power to do so in respect of the drying of such clothing. I think it is hardly necessary for me to argue in support of the Amendment, because the merits of it are apparent on the face of it. I hope the Home Secretary will see that it would be in accordance with the aim of the Clause that he should have powers to prescribe for the drying of clothing.

Mr. White

I beg to second the Amendment.

5.15 p.m.

Sir S. Hoare

The matter appears to be one of drafting and there is not very much difference, one way or the other. If the hon. Members who have moved and seconded the Amendment prefer their Amendment, I do not mind, and I am prepared to accept it.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.