§ 4.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
I beg to move, in page 56, line 18, at the beginning, to insert:It shall not be lawful to employ a young person under the age of fifteen in a factory and,The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary and his deputy have had a comparatively easy task with this Bill up to now. We cannot promise them quite as easy a run to-day. We are beginning at this stage on a subject which is of paramount importance to us on this side of the House. The cleavage between the Government and ourselves has already been exhibited in Standing Committee on this issue. I want to give a few arguments in favour of the Amendment, and the first observation I make is that we offer not the slightest apology to anyone for raising this issue on this Bill. We shall on every occasion take every advantage that we can get to bring this issue before the House of Commons. The party to which we belong have demanded for years that the school life of the children of the country should be extended beyond 14 years. We tried to insert a provision in the last Education Bill to raise the school-leaving age to 15, but we failed. We, therefore, take this, the first opportunity that comes our way, to advocate the same principle in another Measure, by preventing, if we can, the employment of any child under 15 in any factory in the land.
I know the objections that will be made to this proposal. We spent almost a whole Session in Standing Committee arguing this very point. The first obvious objection that will be raised to-day, will be that children under 15, if our Amendment were carried, while they would be prevented from employment in factories would still be allowed to work in mines, in fields, in shops and in offices. Our answer to that challenge is a fairly simple one. If we had our way, and if this 592 were the right opportunity we would be bringing forward a Motion to prevent any child under 15 being employed for wages in any walk of life. But as this is our only opportunity we take it, and we make no apology for doing so. We shall take every chance that comes our way to attack the Tory mentality towards the education of the children of the working classes. We shall try to make another dent in that stupid attitude on this occasion.
If our Amendment were carried, the problem of deciding what is beneficial employment would be settled automatically for education authorities in so far as factories are concerned. The number of people employed in factories in this country is from 6,000,000 to 7,000,000, I understand. As a representative of a Lancashire constituency, let me add that there is a growing revolt amongst parents and their children against putting children in factories at all. That is common knowledge. One phase of this problem is to be found in the fact that boys are now being transferred by employers from the distressed areas in South Wales to work in textile mills in Rochdale, Lancashire. That is indeed a strange comment upon the entry of children into factories in this country. I do not think I can do better at this stage than quote my hon. Friend the Member for Clay Cross (Mr. Ridley) who truly said in Standing Committee that the only form of beneficial employment for youngsters up to 15 years of age should be attendance at school. That is indeed the most beneficial form of employment for children up to 15. In any case, that principle is well established among the well-to-do folk of the land. They see to it that the beneficial employment for their children is to be at school until they are 20 years of age, and in some cases until they are 25. Some hon. Members opposite never left school until they were 25. I doubt if some of them would have been better educated had they remained at school until now.
A new and powerful reason why these young children should not be allowed to enter factory life is the accident rate in industry. Let me read what the 1935 Factory Inspector's Report said on this issue:Not only is there a constant rise in the accident incidence rates among young workers, but also a widening disparity between these rates and those of adults.593 The fact is that speeded-up machines in industry are really becoming too dangerous for children to handle. It requires much more brain than the average child at 14 possesses to follow the speed at which some of these instruments revolve. In 1928 the excess of accidents among young workers over adults was 3 per cent., but in 1935 it was 22 per cent. Unless I am mistaken that disparity is growing.
Let me say a word now in favour of the good employer. There are some excellent employers in this country, and I am sure that the best employers would not object if this Amendment were carried. There is a growing practice among those employing young persons to engage only those who come from secondary schools, and that is all to the good. We are legislating not for the good employer, but for the bad type who does his level best to get round the law every time. That type of callous employer never changes from age to age. He is as callous to-day as he was 100 years ago, and were it not for the law, he would do in 1937 what he did in 1837.
We shall be told, of course, that we must take heed of the attitude of the parents. The Tory party always bring that up against us. They say that parents will complain if their boys and girls are not able to bring in a few shillings a week. If that argument is employed to-day, let me meet it in advance. I remember in Lancashire the half-time system, and parents in some cases were against its abolition. I think that I was a Member of the House when it was abolished. So far as Lancashire is concerned, although many parents may have been opposed to the abolition of that system, I doubt whether there is a man or woman in the country who would now advocate returning to it. If this Amendment were by chance to be carried to-day, some parents might oppose it, but when it had been in operation they would never want to return to the old state of affairs. Therefore, I do not want the Tory party to play on the parents. They always use the argument of the suffering widow.
Let me say something in favour of the Amendment which is more important to us than what I have said so far. It is a disgrace to this civilisation that hundreds of thousands of hefty men and women from 20 years of age and upwards cannot 594 find jobs while there are not enough children to satisfy the clamour of the captains of industry. The children are, of course, cheaper than their parents. That is the answer. And now, forsooth, we are about to launch a campaign for greater physical fitness and better health. There could not be a better contribution towards the achievement of that object than to carry this Amendment. After the Coronation proceedings, when I was in Westminster Abbey, nobody will be able to convince me again that there is not enough money, wealth and riches in this country to meet all the demands that I am making in this Amendment. I am of opinion that some people have more wealth in their possession than is good for them.
Our legislation in respect to the employment of children in industry is falling hopelessly behind other countries. Hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen from this Government cannot any longer go to the International Labour Conference at Geneva and say that we stand now in the front rank in the industrial legislation of the world. In the United States of America I understand the school-leaving age is 16, and has been for some time past. In that small country of Norway they have just passed an Act of Parliament to raise the school-leaving age to 15. What the United States and Norway can do we ought to be able to achieve in this country. As I travel on a tramcar in the City of Manchester, I see plastered on hoardings almost every day of the week, "Machinists wanted." I am told that you cannot get for the factories in Manchester enough girl machinists. Is it not a strange state of affairs that these girls are being employed for a few shillings a week in a job like that when their parents are standing in queues at the employment exchanges? I say, therefore, that one of the best contributions towards the solution of our unemployment problem is to let the parents work and to keep their children at school.
I was astonished in looking up the vital statistics to find that there are as many people in this country over 60 years of age as there are children on the average attending elementary schools. The average attendance in elementary schools is about 4,600,000, and that is the number of people over 60 years of age. What does that denote? It means that we have extended the average age of the individual by about 12 years in the last half-century, 595 and have extended the school life of the child by only two and a-half years during the same period. That disproportion ought to be removed by the extension of the school life. I see that a right hon. Gentleman opposite sneers.
§ Mr. Sandys
I was sneering at the hon. Gentleman's suggestion that the length of life had increased by 12 years. He seems to have forgotten that the increased average results from the diminution in infantile mortality.
§ Mr. Davies
I shall have to enter into an argument with the hon. Gentleman about that. Although he is better educated than I am, I almost feel that I can teach him a lesson on this problem. If that argument does not avail, let me bring another one. No argument would avail with some hon. Members. By the way, I did not refer to the hon. Gentleman at all. It was rather conceited of him to think that I was referring to him.
We are supported in the views we are expressing to-day by legislation already on the Statute Book. Nineteen years ago the Fisher Act was passed, which made it possible for local education authorities to raise the school-leaving age to 15. Some local authorities have already d[...] so. The last Education Act, which was placed on the Statute Book not long ago, has made it possible to raise the school-leaving age and to keep children in school, if they care, up to 15. The law on the Statute Book already is, therefore, one of the best arguments possible in favour of the Amendment. We had a reply in Committee from the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is a very clever lawyer, but I have found in this House that it does not require much intelligence to be clever. It requires much more intelligence to be wise. I am sure that the Home Secretary is taking that in.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Samuel Hoare)
I am wondering in which category I came.
§ Mr. Davies
This is the reply we got from the right hon. Gentleman upstairs— Liberal by name and a Tory by profession: 596We must remember that in point of fact it is a very serious thing to contemplate that you should let a large number of youths out into the industrial market and that these people should not start their working life in the conditions in which they really have a future, but that there should be, or the risk of being, in the meantime, a gap in their existence which may be filled up in a most undesirable way."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee B) 13th April, 1937, Col. 407.]At no time in Committee, was an intelligent and adequate reply given to this proposal which I am putting forward, and I shall await to see whether a greater intelligence can give us a better reply to-day. I would conclude by asking the House in all seriousness to ponder over this issue. I have listened to Debates on unemployment and as to providing pensions to persons at 60 in order to clear old folk out of industry to make room for the unemployed, and I say that I know of no better means of making any impression upon our unemployment problem than these two or three simple processes: First, to reduce the hours of labour; secondly, to abolish overtime; and thirdly, and above all else, to keep children at school longer than we are doing now, and I trust that that is an argument which will prevail with the House this afternoon.
§ 4,32 p.m.
§ Sir S. Hoare
The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) has covered a very wide field—the field of education, the field of population, the field of working hours generally, and it is very difficult for one of my inferior intelligence, coming new to a post of this kind and after so distinguished a predecessor, to cope with all the many issues which he has thrown at my head, more particularly as he has told us that there is no hope whatever from any Tory mind, that we are all wooden-headed and that nothing that anybody can say can make any impression upon us. I would, however, remark in passing, because it would be out of order to make more than an incidental allusion to the fact, that most of the great measures of social reform have come from the party on this side of the House.
Let us get back for a moment to the Clause in the Bill and to the Amendment. I fully realise that we are reaching a time when the school-leaving age will inevitably go up, and I welcome that fact. I also see quite clearly that employers will 597 be able to look less and less to juvenile labour in the future, if for no other reason than that in the 10 or 20 years before us the number of young persons available will greatly diminish. In taking up the attitude I do to this Amendment I am influenced by no feeling of opposition either to the raising of the school-leaving age or to the giving of much greater opportunities to young persons than they have had in the past for education and for leisure.
Let us come to the actual facts with which we are confronted at the present time, remembering the various parties who have to be taken into account. I agree that we must first take into account the interest of the young persons. I do not agree with the rather contemptuous reference of the hon. Member to parents, because we have to take the family life into account as well, and also the actual conditions of present-day industry. It would be wise when we are making a change to try to base it as much as we can upon general agreement, and to avoid bitter controversy and dislocation of industry if we can reasonably do so. I imagine that it was these considerations which were very much in the mind of my right hon. Friend who was then President of the Board of Education and of the House generally when the Education Act was passed. It was then definitely accepted that the school-leaving age should be gradually raised. At the same time it was decided—not only by the House, because it was further endorsed in the election afterwards, as the provisions actually appeared in the manifesto of the supporters of the National Government—that there should be exceptions to the school-leaving age for those who could secure beneficial employment. The hon. Member does not believe in the possibility of beneficial employment for those under 15, and hs is fully entitled to that view, but that was not the view of the majority of the House when they passed the Education Act, and there is the fact that under that Act it is possible, with rigid safeguards, to make exemptions for beneficial employment.
I ask hon. Members whether we can now repudiate the policy which was adopted then after very full consideration, and exclude the very possibility of beneficial employment for something like two-thirds of those with whom we are now dealing? It so happens that something 598 like two-thirds of the young persons of this age are actually employed in factories and workshops. Can we, in this indirect way, repudiate that carefully-thought-out policy, remembering always that if we do so the immediate result will be to drive many of those young persons out of employment in factories and workshops, which in many cases leads to permanent careers, into unregulated and blind-alley occupations? I suggest that it is impossible to do so in view of this considered policy. There is no question of want of courage or anything of that kind. It is the considered policy of the Government, and of the majority of the Members of this House, that we should have carefully safeguarded exemptions and to accept the Amendment would be a complete repudiation of that policy.
Let the House remember that under this Bill we are increasingly safeguarding the position of young people, by reducing their hours by four hours per week and by prohibiting overtime for them altogether, and I can give the hon. Member an undertaking that we will apply in the spirit and in the letter the undertakings which were given when the Education Act was passed, namely, that applications for exemption will have to be considered individually by the local authorities. The Board of Education has a detailed memorandum ready for issue to local authorities under which it will be made clear that employers will have to justify their demands for individual young persons, and that the local authorities and juvenile employment committees will have to take into account the conditions of the job, particularly as they affect the health and welfare and the future of the young persons. In view of these facts it would be quite impossible, by a side-wind of this kind, to blow away the considered policy of the Board of Education, to make it of no account, and, incidentally, as I believe, to bring about an unnecessary dislocation of industry, in many cases also doing something which would probably in the long run harm young persons by driving them into less suitable employinent.
§ 4.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Graham White
The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) endeavoured to anticipate the reply which was likely to be made to him by my right hon. Friend. I do not know what his 599 feelings are now, and whether he is satisfied with the reply. Having listened with great attention and great interest to the right hon. Gentleman I have come to the conclusion that there is really not so much between us as l might have thought before he spoke, and as there is so little ground of difference, at all events as regards the theory and the purpose of the Amendment, I am very much disappointed that he cannot go further than he has indicated. He stated that the interest of the child must be the first consideration, and, further, that a change in this direction was inevitable, as manufacturers would have to rely less and less upon juvenile labour. As long ago as 1918 Parliament decided that, in principle, children under 15 were subjects for education and not for work, subjects for the Board of Education and not for the Home Office or the Ministry of Labour. At this stage in our national development I should have hoped that we might see a united front between the Home Office, the Board of Education and the Ministry of Labour, that they would have combined to overcome the administrative difficulties which remain in the way of carrying out the full intention of the Board of Education, so that we should finally establish, though perhaps not this year or next year, that no child under 15 should be employed in a factory, or, indeed, in any other form of work.
It is significant that all who have devoted their lives to the education of the young are unanimous in regard to this matter. It is significant, also, that a great majority, though not all, of those who are giving their time and their attention to the administration of education on local authorities are in favour of this step. I think the wider interests of the country call for this change to be made and as soon as possible. It is said by the right hon. Gentleman, and from the point of view of himself and of those who support him it is a valid argument, that they cannot so soon reverse—as he said by a side wind, although a pretty strong wind —the pledge given in the General Election. If that is the case, and that is the only obstacle which the right hon. Gentleman feels, surely he might do something by post-dating the operation of the Amendment. I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) has an Amendment on the Paper which would enable him to do that. This 600 is a question of time. When we are dealing with these questions, the tragedy is that time is apt to be confused with eternity, and the rising generation of our day pass out of the possibility of benefiting from what I believe hon. Members as a whole regard as a tremendous step which ought to be taken. From the wider and more general consideration it is imperative that we should see what we can do to overcome such difficulties as remain in the way.
The position of our country has changed very much in the last 25 or 30 years. When we first became a great Power it was because we had certain natural advantages in the industrial field. Our raw materials were at hand, an advantage not possessed by any other country. Owing to discovery and competition, those advantages have departed from us, and are shared by many other countries. We stand on equal terms with them, which means that we can maintain ourselves in future as a first-class Power only if we have a population which is fully educated, has the resources and is ready to adapt itself to changes in conditions and to new ideas and inventions in any other country in the world. It is wrong to allow children to leave school at 14 or shortly afterwards, for beneficial occupations which are not likely to be able to maintain that position.
The views that were given by the right hon. Gentleman turned upon the immediate practicability of the step—I hope I am not reading more than I ought into his remarks—as something that must come. I think we should do something to-day, at this stage of the Bill, to make it not merely a good Departmental Measure, but something that will really carry us forward. In all these matters we are merely adopting a slow levelling-up process by bringing general industrial practice up to the level of the best. The Bill will be known as the Factories Act, 1937; if we were to carry it a step forward by adopting the principle of the Amendment, even though we could not bring the principle into operation this year or next year, we should be doing something to give the Bill a name and character of its own.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Rowlands
I have listened to the arguments advanced by the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) in favour 601 of the Amendment, but I did not hear anything that was specifically relevant to the Amendment. I heard several arguments for increasing the school-leaving age, but I submit that that subject is not the one that we are discussing and is not the object which the Amendment has been designed to achieve. If the Amendment were passed, we should debar certain industries from being considered beneficial employment. During the last General Election the question of increasing the school-leaving age was prominently before the country. I should think that every candidate gave his views on the matter, which was very prominent in my own division. I came down heavily for the Government programme of increasing the school-leaving age to 15, but making provision for withdrawing from school at the age of 14-plus for beneficial employment. The Education Act is passed. That course was decided upon, and I believe that the people of the country are satisfied with what has been done. The result has been seen at every by-election. I, myself, had a bigger majority than has ever been recorded by a Member of my party for that division. I made that matter one of the chief questions during my election. I now consider that I should not be fair to my constituents if I voted for the Amendment. Besides, I cannot help feeling that if this Amendment were passed it would mete out a distinct insult to the local authorities.
§ Mr. Rowlands
The hon. Member means that many of them are asking for the Amendment. I thought he meant that many of them were asking for the insult. I have confidence in the local authorities. I have been a member of a local authority for 15 years. I hope that they will not permit parents to withdraw their children to be put into blind-alley occupations. The question of beneficial employment is in the hands of the right people, and I have no hesitation in saying that to pass the Amendment would be equivalent to telling the local authorities: "Now we have passed an Act of Parliament which has raised the school-leaving age to 15. We permit parents to withdraw children for beneficial employment, and you are the people to decide what 602 beneficial employment is; but we are going to say—if we pass this Amendment —that all these factories cannot be considered beneficial employment. We leave open to you, not the work of training a boy in a garage, but if you like to consider the work of messenger boy or in a butcher's shop to be beneficial employment, you may do so."
I have in my constituency a great many industries. I have a silk industry, a woollen factory, garages galore, brick works, lead mines and collieries. If I voted for the Amendment it would be equivalent to telling the local authorities in my Division: "You are not to exempt the child to go into the factories, but, if you like, you can consider lead mining and coal mining beneficial employment." That is what the Amendment amounts to. If we pass the Amendment we shall be driving people and tempting the local authorities to permit young people to go into employment which is totally unsuited for them. We shall be closing much more beneficial employment by putting a ban upon the factories of the country. I have great pleasure in opposing the Amendment.
§ 4.53 P.m.
§ Mr. Lansbury
I support the Amendment, because I disagree with those who think that the overwhelming number of boys and girls who enter factories thereby enter beneficial employment. As I see the position in East London, the boys and girls become part of the machinery which is continually coming in and being improved—automatic machinery, very largely. When they reach a certain age they are no longer needed, and another set of boys and girls is required to take their places. Afterwards, there are not enough places for the adults. The idea that boys and girls who go into a sweet factory, a match factory or a rope works automatically become adult workers is nonsense. They do not. If it were not at this moment for the increase, not in actual armaments but in subsidiary industries connected with wartime and things required in wartime, we would still have, in the district that I represent, a considerable number of young people who had passed through boy and girl labour, and who found themselves unable to get regular employment. You can find that to be the case in every industry where machinery is employed.
603 Last week I was at a juvenile centre meeting, where boys and girls who had been in a job for a year were receiving certificates because their job had lasted the year and they were still in the same position. That proves, if proof is wanted, that there is not continuity of employment in factories such as people are inclined to believe. I should not support any rise in the school-leaving age if it were not possible to assist the parents of the children by way of maintenance. I do not sit in judgment on poor people who want their children to go to work. It is often a question of absolute necessity, and it is only because there is provision whereby the parents of such children can be assisted.
I want to put this matter upon another footing altogether. The hon. Member who preceded me said that this was not a question of raising the school-leaving age. Indirectly, it is. As the mover of the Amendments said, we should take advantage of every opportunity of pressing our point of view about this. My point of view is that the general child population has not yet enjoyed all that the increase in productivity and machine industry are capable of giving. We have no need to employ children. I have never been able to get very wrathful about the generation of employers into which I was born, and I make no sort of complaint that I went to work very early. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I never felt that it was a hardship. We are living now in an entirely new age, when it is possible that the community, by organised effort, can give children a better chance. This is an age of leisure. We should consider how many people we can put into industry and keep them there; that is to say, how soon we can get them there and how long they can remain there. This is a time when we ought to be considering how we can give the mass of the people a better opportunity. The answer very often is that all people are not fitted—"fitted" is not quite the right word—are perhaps not capable or suited for continued education in the ordinary sense. If it were in order to argue about that matter, I should have liked to do so, because I do riot want children during this interval to go on being crammed in school or anywhere else. We have to learn how to deal with boys and girls of 15, 16 and 17.
604 I feel rather badly about this question just now, because only this morning a youngster came to me who has never had a chance. He is just out of prison, and he has never had a real chance, because he got out of his first job through no fault of his own, and never got another until he got into trouble. I may be told that such cases are exceptional, but when they come to you fairly regularly you feel that there is a great number of them. Whether the number be large or small, the fact remains that at this time the House of Commons ought to be considering, not how many of these children can be put into industry, but how many can be kept out, and how to deal with them during their time of leisure. I want to plead for the establishment in this Bill of the principle that factory life is not the right life for a child of 14 or 15. Not one of my children went into a factory. I would work my finger-nails off—I did not have to, but I would have done—rather than that they should have gone into factories. That is not because I think that factory life is in any way derogatory to the dignity of a man or woman, but because I do not think that a factory, with all its risks, is a proper place for a child. I repeat that there is no need for it nowadays. There is no reason why it should be considered necessary.
For these reasons I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman. He may not be able to meet us to-day, but he might consider the proposal of the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) that the Amendment should be accepted and a period of time given for it to come into operation. If I may say so, I think I understand the right hon. Gentleman as well as anybody in this House; I have sat and listened to him many times. I would ask him to visualise the condition of young children and those who just grow on from the age of 14, and to think of the sort of depression that comes over them when they reach the age of 15 or 16 and are no longer wanted. There is not a school teacher in East London who does not feel broken-hearted at the broken wrecks of young men and young women who come to him, because of the conditions that have been forced upon them through this system of employment. There is not a teacher, I am sure, who, if he could be here to vote, would not vote with us this afternoon. Therefore, I ask 605 the right hon. Gentleman to think again about this proposal.
We are talking a great deal about the development of the health of the children; we are saying that we want our boys and girls to grow up healthier and better than they have ever been before. But that will never be brought about by putting them into factories at 14 years of age. That will never be brought about until it is recognised that a child is a child only once, and that, if a child is robbed of any of the years of childhood and early life, it is robbed of something that cannot be given back. Because I want the children to have a better chance, because I know that economically it can be done by our nation, and because I want our children to grow up healthy in mind and healthy in body, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to think again about this Amendment, and see whether he cannot meet us in the manner that has been suggested.
§ 5.6 p.m.
The speech to which we have just listened interested' me very much. It showed that in some cases going to work early is no drawback to either mind or body.
I quite admit that the right hon. Gentleman is exceptional. The Home Secretary advanced, as I think the House recognised, one strong argument against the passing of this Amendment. It would, he said, be almost a breach of a statutory contract with children over 14 and under 15 who had obtained exemption and got employment under the Education Act, 1936. I want, if I can, to meet that argument, but I should like first to be allowed to make one or two rather obvious observations. The first is that I believe that, if the people of this country could be approached, the general opinion would be that children under 15 ought not to be in factories, but ought to be at school. Certainly I myself, who was educated up to the age of 21, do not see why the same advantage—whether it was an advantage I must leave my colleagues to decide—should not be more generally spread. My second observation is that we have to go forward. We have to move gradually, but still we have 606 to take the opportunity when the opportunity arises, and I think that this Bill is an opportunity. There is always a tendency to go rather too slowly. Existing things get organised, and we in this country have a very great art in working existing institutions; we work them with less friction and less harm to the individual than occurs in other countries; and so the employment of children at an earlier age is accepted by some people, and does not as a rule excite the opposition with which it meets when we are brought face to face with it, as we are now. We must move when the occasion arises, and we must not move too slowly.
Like the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I regard this question as closely related to the question of education. I think there ought not to be a gap between the closing of education and the starting of work, but that the two should interlock, for the sake of the child and, as the right hon. Gentleman said, for the sake of the family too. But I think that that point is met by the valuable suggestion of the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White). If there is a contract with these children, if they have gone into employment relying on the provisions of the Education Act, 1936, let us recognise that fact, and let us postpone the operation of the Amendment for a certain time. I would very earnestly beg my right hon. Friend to give attention to that suggestion. I know him quite well enough to know the tendency of his own disposition. I know that he himself has always been in advance in advocating social reforms of this sort. I know also that he has certain responsibilities which attach to his great position, and that he must take account of these. But, if the suggestion of the hon. Member for East Birkenhead were accepted, would not all the difficulties be met? We could then go forward, and perhaps in the future we might raise the school-leaving age to 15 without exceptions. Anyhow, it would give notice to all the world that boys under 15 could not be employed in factories after a given time, and that, therefore, of course, after that time, no exemptions would be given. I earnestly beg my right hon. Friend to reconsider this Amendment. I am convinced that it is in line with the best opinion in this country, and that it is also in line with the best opinion in his own party.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ Miss Wilkinson
I only want to refer briefly to the point made by the Minister that, owing to the difference between the Education Act and the present Bill, there might be an awkward gap. It is obvious, of course, that, if this Amendment were carried, there would have to be some amendment of the Education Act, but surely that would be a very small matter if the House were willing to agree to the Amendment. The Minister also made a point with regard to the danger of children getting into blind-alley occupations because many employers who were offering apprenticeship conditions wanted children of 14, and made that a condition. I would point out, however, that workshop practice now is really considerably in advance of the Bill. Some of the best and largest firms, who make a special point of apprenticeship, will not take children of 14, on the ground that they ought to stay at school until they are 15. The difficulty is that, as things are at present, children tend to leave school as soon as they are able, and then there is a very difficult period of blind-alley occupation and drifting into and out of jobs. Speaking as an ex-school teacher, I know that it is extremely difficult for such children, unless the discipline at home and the home conditions are exceptionally good, to avoid losing a great deal. After all, we spend a good deal of money on our elementary school children, and it seems to me to be important, when we are dealing with this Bill, in which, we have said over and over again, we are legislating for the future, that we should not be in the position of not even having caught up with the practice of the best employers. The industrial welfare associations among employers themselves are urging that entry into industry should be later, and it would be a great pity if the standard of this Bill were not at least equal to what is the general and increasing practice among the best employers. I feel that the Home Secretary, coming, as he has, from the sea, where I think midshipmen enter the Service at about the age of 12, is perhaps not yet quite au fait with the conditions of industry, but I think that, if he will look into the matter, he will see that the practice of the best employers now is really in advance of the Bill, and I would ask him, even if he cannot let us have this Amendment, to look into the matter again.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Lord Eustace Percy
The arguments which have been advanced against the Amendment are, I fear, almost overwhelming from the point of view of continuity of policy—the point of view put by the Home Secretary. I do not think it can be denied that, if we pass this Amendment, we should be performing a somewhat curious act in relation to our pledges at the last Election and the Education Act which we passed. It is all very well to speak, as the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) has spoken, about postponing the time, but, after all, the time-table under the Education Act, to which we are at any rate very largely pledged by what we said at the last Election, was that the raising of the school-leaving age would not come into force until 1939, and that the process of exemption for beneficial employment would, therefore, begin only in 1939, so that, if you are to devise another timetable for this Amendment, the time will drag out to a very considerable period if you are to relate it at all to what we have done under the Education Act. One could even make the argument stronger. This side of the House pledged themselves not to raise the school-leaving age without exemptions, at any rate for the present. The party opposite pledged themselves over and over again not to raise it without maintenance allowances. It would indeed be rather a strange operation now to raise the school-leaving age by indirection under this Amendment without any mention of maintenance allowances at all and thereby apparently get out of that pledge. The arguments against the Amendment, therefore, on the ground of continuity of policy seem almost overwhelming, and I have put them as strongly as I can. I feel that both those who voted for Members on this side and those who voted for Members on the other side at the last Election would feel that, taking the Amendment as it stands, its passage would come very near to a breach of faith with the electors.
Having put that side of the case as strongly as I can, I should like the Home Secretary to consider another point of view. I believe that factory employment stands in a totally different category from other employments. That, after all, is why we have a Factories Bill. The great revolution in education which took place rather more than 15o years ago, in the 609 days of Rousseau, was a revolution in the direction of more practical education —bringing it more practically into contact with life, and working life at that, and it was the industrial revolution which ruined the whole revolutionary movement in education by making the practical conditions of working life so unnatural that you could not combine them with education, and that has deflected the whole education of the civilised world since that time. I believe the most important thing you can do in the future, when in our central schools we are trying to get back to this idea of relating education to life and making it a real preparation for life, is to draw a real distinction between factory and other employment in relation to education. I think the most desperately absurd part of our administration is the way in which the Home Office solemnly sanctions by-laws issued by rural local authorities regulating what school children may do out of school hours, as if those children were working in factories, and you find the by-laws of Berkshire almost word for word the same as the by-laws of Birmingham, so that, if a farmer gives a little employment to a child between five and six in the evening on a summer's day, just the time when children in the old days used to pick up a lot of educational information, he has to have a notice on the gate of the field in which the child works saying for how long the child is employed, and so on through a whole range of absurdities.
From the educational point of view, I believe the time has come when we ought to put our feet down about factory employment. Of course, I know you cannot say this of all factories. There are quite small factories to which those objections do not apply, but, broadly speaking, factory employment is incompatible with education during the years, at any rate, up to 15. We all agree, I hope, whether the child is in school or not, that the years up to at least 16 are years primarily of education and not of wage earning, arid we ought to lay down the principle that up to the age of 15 the factory is not a feasible part of education. For that reason, though I should find it extremely difficult, for the reasons the Home Secretary has urged so strongly, to go into the Lobby against the Government, because of the attitude that we all took at the last General Election, I feel that my right hon. Friend might very 610 well give us a rather broader assurance than that for which the hon. Member for East Birkenhead asks, that he would approach this in future from that point of view, that there must be, in considering exemptions for beneficial employment, a strong distinction drawn between factory and other employment and that factory employment must be ruled out.
I should like to endorse, from a far less well informed point of view, what the hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) has said. There is still an archaic, old-fashioned, out-of-date point of view going round the country that, once you get a child into a factory, at any rate, he is not in a blind alley. As a matter of fact, I would much rather see many boys errand boys between 15 and 17 than have them go into a factory. There may be differences in detail between the hon. Lady and myself, but it is true that for the first year or so, before very often regular apprenticeship arrangements come into force, factory life is among the most dangerous blind-alley forms of employment, and for that reason, if for no other, factory employment ought to be ruled out.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Silverman
The House may think it a somewhat curious argument that, where you have something which nearly everyone agrees will be a much needed and beneficial reform, this House ought to refuse to extend the benefit of it to its proposed beneficiaries on the ground that we are pledged not to give it to them. Perhaps a passing reference to another pledge that was given at the last Election with regard to large scale re-armament would not be out of place. We know how, under the stress of what the late Prime Minister thought to be an immediate and an urgent necessity, he was prepared to dishonour the pledge which he himself said he had given in order to do something which he thought the nation required. Surely, if that could be done on that issue, it could be done on this. In the Committee, when this matter was being discussed, the argument went all one way. I cannot recall a single speech on either side in opposition to the principle of this Amendment.
§ The Under Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Lloyd)
§ Mr. Silverman
It may be that there was one, it may be there were two, but 611 I am sure the hon. Gentleman would agree with me that the great preponderance of argument on both sides of the Committee was overwhelmingly in favour of the reform for which we are now pleading. [Interruption.] I do not want to debate that point with the hon. Gentleman. Many Members of the Committee are here, and the reports of the Committee are on record and I think it fair to say that the argument was almost entirely one way. Had the matter been left to a free vote, and were it left to a free vote now, it would be found that the Department's attitude in opposition to the Amendment would be supported by an infinitesimal minority. The right hon. Gentleman talked of some concessions that were being made on other Clauses. It, is true that some concessions are being made, but when they have all been made and when everything is taken into account, we are left in this position that, under this Act, children under 15 may be employed for a longer working week than many European countries now apply to adult workers. Surely that is not the position in which this country wishes to leave itself. There is not merely an agitation for a 4o-hour week all over the world, but a 40-hour week in many countries in Europe is an accomplished fact, and here the right hon. Gentleman talks of concessions to children under 15, because they will not be allowed to do overtime, but will be compelled to do a 44-hour week.
The great majority of those persons and institutions and organisations and authorities which concern themselves with the training of young people are in favour of this reform. The great majority of this House and the great majority of the best employers would be in favour of it. The only people now who stand in the way of making it an accomplished fact are the right lion. Gentleman and his Department. One could understand in Committee that there were reasons which prevented the late Home Secretary from yielding to the agitation that came from all sides of the Committee and from all kinds of political thought. At that time the Government were in trouble with the great financial and industrial interests over the National Defence Contribution, and perhaps felt that they could not afford another controversy of that kind or to incur further unpopularity with those in- 612 terests. The position has somewhat changed. These interests have been placated, and now they are left only with this. Surely, no great risk could be taken by the Government in saying to that section of employers which is reluctant, and which still wishes to exploit the labour of very young children, "Some day or other you will have to come into line and will need to make the necessary adjustments. You can make them to-day as well as you could later. Make them now that we are making a new factories Bill and when we are reviewing the whole of our factory legislation for the first time in 30 years, and when we are doing something that we may not be able to undo, modify or amend very easily for another generation. What you will have to do in the end, do now."
It has been said already much better than I can say it—and I touch upon it only because it is so large in my mind—that we are living in an age of plenty. Our machines are more powerful than any machines that have existed in any previous age of the world. There is no difficulty about producing wealth nowadays, none at all. We do not really need the labour of these children in these conditions in factories. Industry can get on very well without it. Cannot we use the advantage of 150 years of industrial development in order to extend by a bare 12 months the period during which children may be allowed to be children and to have leisure and recreation, and be kept out of all the toil and strife of the industrial world? It would cost industry next to nothing. What would be gained in the value of human existence would be incalculable. Surely, an attempt might be made now to do it when everybody, if they were freed from party ties and obligations, would vote for it. Cannot the right hon. Gentleman see his way now—it is the last opportunity in this generation—to extend to these children the benefits of our developing industrial civilisation. It would be something that they would remember in this Act. It would not be merely a codification of regulations that the Department had made during the last quarter of a century, or merely a question of fencing and hours and that sort of thing, but it would be remembered, after all, as a children's charter, and would be of the greatest 613 possible value to the industrial life of the nation.
§ 5.34 P.m.
§ Mr. Macquisten
I have listened to the very impressive speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), the right hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major Hills) and the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman), but I still adhere to the opinion that the Home Secretary is right in the position he has taken up. I have great sympathy with the workers in their desire for greater leisure. I belong to a people in the Highlands who have always believed in leisure, and do not believe in industrialism. Certain attempts have been made to industrialise us. Long ago Dale, and a few years ago Leverhulme tried to get us into factories, but we would not go. I remember an old Highland woman saying to my father 6o years ago that she had sons and supposed that they were doing well, but, she said, "They are all working for a wage and I am very much ashamed of them, for no man should work for a wage," the view being that you had your little bit of land that you cultivated and your boat from which you fished and you fended for yourself and called no man master. In the Highlands we never had masters, we had chiefs. The difference between a chief and a master or boss is that the chief leads, but the boss drives. That is a great moral and social difference. The two islands of Lewis and Skye each quote against one another on the question of work the rhyme:Oh that the peats would cut themselves,The fish jump on the shoreAnd a' the meal come from the SouthAnd the Skyeman work no more,or "Lewisman" when the Skyeman quotes it. They have no belief in any of this factory system. Most ordinary people who earn little and who have children and go to the expense of tending them in their earlier years expect some return from them. I remember talking to one of the lace workers in Ayrshire who had some valuable property. I asked him how he managed it, and he said, "I was married at 18 to a wife of my own age. We had a large family, and they went out to work and we got their wages until they married, as my father did before." In those days there was an essential difference between the families of the workers and the families of the well-to-do 614 classes. The children of the workers were an asset to their parents and the children of the well-to-do were nearly always a liability, and I think that the workers were probably in a better position in that the practice of children aiding their parents had a tendency to make them better citizens.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), has always taken a very keen interest in the shop-keepers, and I am sure that if he carried his Amendment they would all rise up and call him blessed. I have gone from shop to shop and have discussed the conditions, and one of the most constant notices I saw was, "Boy wanted." Boys would not come and take an errand boy's job. I agree with the Noble Lord that selling newspapers or being an errand boy is probably better than working in a factory. It sharpens the wits. Hiram Maxim was a newspaper boy, as was, I think, Edison, and even that great soldier Cohn Campbell afterwards Lord Clyde of Inkerman and Balaclava fame, sold newspapers. I knew a young Australian who started as a newsboy at eight years old and by the time he had reached the age of 18 he had made over a quarter of a million pounds, and was a very leading citizen. His brain was so sharpened by his early struggle with the realities of life that he outstripped all his contemporaries who had long schooling and a sheltered life. So I congratulate the hon. Member for Westhoughton upon the fact that his Amendment will secure plenty of errand boys. They are very badly needed. There is no calling in which there is a greater demand. But there are in these industrial towns many factories, and if they were closed to boys there would not be jobs enough for them. There would not be any problem of occupation at all. I am old-fashioned enough to think that it is rather creditable for a boy—and if he loves his parents there is no one prouder to do so—to want to bring home something with which to help the resources of the family. It is a very laudable thing and should not be discouraged.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon said that he had been educated to the age of 21. I am sorry to hear ii: because I am being educated all my life. [An HON. MEMBER: You have a long way to go!"] I agree. We all have educationally and I hope to be spared a long time. The difference is that 615 the early education of the working classes is a great help in forming character. It teaches a man to realise that whatsoever he sows he shall reap. The education of the sons of the well-to-do, as I have said in this House before, is to keep them at school until 18 or 20, and then send them to one of the leading English Universities, and when they come out at 24 or 25 they are generally completely unemployable. They want to begin at the top, and so nobody can give them a job. Their mentality is so diffused with general culture that you cannot set them to detailed jobs. Of course, they may become Labour leaders in this House or Members of our party. Too great a study of the general in life makes a man unable to settle down to the particular. It is necessary that we should all start in small jobs, and, later on, by culture and in other ways, we should advance.
It is not enough for a man to think that he can acquire information and knowledge by school or college education. He has to occupy his leisure, which is a very difficult thing to do, and he should occupy it in self-improvement. Most people do not know how to use leisure. I believe the period of survival of the school teacher or civil servant after he retires in comfortable circumstances with a lump sum of money, a year and a half's pay, in his hand, and two-thirds of his pay, is only 20 months.
§ Mr. Macquisten
The reason for it is this, they sit by the fireside in their little homes without their daily task, and their minds poison their bodies and they early pass out, Unless you can provide people with satisfactory finances so that they can travel and enjoy life, leisure is a perfect curse.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Captain Bourne)
The hon. and learned Gentleman seems to be getting very far from the Amendment.
§ Mr. Macquisten
Speeches have been made in favour of giving these people more leisure. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) and other hon. Members have spoken about leisure. Dean Inge has wisely said that if you have money, and do not do anything, then that is leisure, but if you have little or no money, it is unemployment. There is nothing that 616 takes the heart out of a man more than unemployment. That is because he has not enough to do and cannot afford to do it. I remember being asked a question as to what was a fair rate of wage for a workman, and for an unemployed man. I said that the unemployed man should get far more than the man who was working because time hung so heavily on his hands and he needed money to employ himself. I was asked where they were to get the money, and I said that I did not know; I was not paying it.
You have lots of boys who want to go to work as early as possible, and they would look after their own culture. Look at the example of men on these benches who had to go to work at an age earlier than 14 and who have achieved distinction. It is that which forms character, and is the reason why so many men have reached distinction and wealth and power who began work in tender years. Some of the very successful men who have succeeded after a hard struggle say that they will see that their sons do not have the same struggle as they had. They do not seem to realise that it was through these hard struggles that they built up their strength of character. They shelter the young, who tend to grow up useless members of the community. That would be a wrong thing to do. It must be a suitable employment, and if you shut the door of a factory you might be depriving a boy of work which might be most beneficial to him. You say, "Here is a job. You might like the job, but you are not going to get it." That is entirely wrong in the interests of the boys themselves.
§ 5.45 p.m.
Mr. Edmund Harvey
I hope that the House will turn from the genial humour of the hon. and learned Member to consider the immensely serious position with which we are faced on this Amendment. This is probably the only opportunity that most of us, perhaps all of us, will have of voting on a great Factories Bill. Very few, if any, of us can hope to live as Members of this House for another 37 years in order to pass another Factories Bill, and we ought not to allow this opportunity to go by without making it clear that the view of the House is that children shall not go into factories under the age of 15, even though it may be necessary for the Home Secretary to take power to postpone the date of operation. That 617 principle ought to be made perfectly clear by the House. I am convinced that if hon. Members will consider this question as though they were acting for their own families and their own children, they can come to only one decision and that is that we cannot desire that the children whom we know and love should go to work under conditions such as we have discussed on the various Clauses of this Bill.
Clause after Clause deals with conditions that are still deplorable, in many cases dangerous to health and in some cases dangerous to life. If hon. Members have considered the report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and have read the figure he gives of the accidents, fatal and non-fatal, to juvenile workers, and have read the remarks of the Chief Inspector, they will realise that the rate of accidents for juvenile workers in factories is far heavier proportionately than for the adult workers; the danger is greater. It is not right that we should consent to this sort of thing going on indefinitely, and particularly that we should allow it to go on in the case of children, for they are children, under 15 years of age. Surely the House realises that in the last report of the Factory Inspector we have it made clear that there were over 25,000 cases of accidents to juvenile workers in factories in the year under review, and over 50 cases of fatal accidents. We cannot say that that is beneficial employment. That is the answer to those hon. Members who have a doubt whether they are being faithful to their election pledges.
§ Mr. Macquisten
Is it not the case that there are far more children killed and injured on the roads than in factories?
I am as eager as the hon. and learned Member to deal with the question of accidents on the roads, but he knows that that is an entirely different matter. This is a question of employment to which children have to go for economic reasons. I want to save them for additional training of the widest and most beneficial character, and I believe that that is the wish of the great mass of Members of the House, of all parties. I earnestly hope that the Government will listen to the appeal that has been made from all sides, especially from the right hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major Hills) and the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy), and that they will find some way of 618 meeting the principle of this Amendment, so that we can register now the view of the House that no children under 15 years of age shall be employed in factories.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Captain Harold Balfour
Like other hon. Members I am worried by this question. I have not been reassured by the speech of the Home Secretary, and I sincerely hope that he will see his way before the Debate concludes to go somewhat further in the direction which believe is the direction in which the majority of hon. Members of this House would wish him to go. It seems to me, after thinking it over, that there are two test questions that we have to ask ourselves when we are deciding this issue: (1) Is it good for the children? and (2) Is it vital for the industry of the country on which their future is dependent that conditions should exist under which children have to go into industry under the age of 15? In regard to the first question, as to whether it is good or had for children, statistics are few and inquiries on this particular problem have been rare, and usually of a private nature; but all the official evidence tends towards showing that it is not good for children.
The hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. Harvey) referred to the report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops. If hon. Members will turn to pages 43 and 44 of that report they will see evidence which makes one very uneasy about the effect at the present time of industrial employment in factories for children. It would be out of order if I were to deal with the suggestion in the later Clause as to whether overtime should be allowed or not, for the question which we have to decide on this Clause is whether such employment is or is not injurious to the health of the children. The later Clause deals with permission for overtime if not injurious to health. We cannot, however, say whether any factory work is injurious to the health of the children until later in life, when they have passed beyond the years that they are under the particular notice of the factory inspector. The result of inquiry by medical officers, which is given in the report, provides grave grounds for saying that conditions of factory work are not good for children under 15. The report mentions children 619 under 16. If such work is bad for children under 16 it is not illogical to say that it is probably at its worst for children under 15. The argument put forward in Committee and elsewhere that factory conditions have so improved that one must not judge by the past, is fallacious for this reason, that it is counterbalanced by the fact that although conditions have improved the whole tempo of industrial life, the speed of industry, the fatigue factor and so forth are such that the advantage which the improved conditions have given must be largely offset.
The second test question which I put to myself—Is it vital for industry that children should work under these conditions in industries on which their future lives depend?—is refuted by history. Industry has always adapted itself, either easily or under pressure—I like to think, easily—in the past to the social call for the improved standards that have been called for during the past 100 years. I have been looking at some extracts from a book, which many hon. Members may have read, by Joseph Macabe, called "A Century of Progress," which deals with conditions in 1825 and to-day. In 1825 of 10,000,000 workers, 3,000,000 were children earning from 6d. to 1s. per week. Industry has improved since that time, and industry has not been ruined in the process. I believe that industry could if necessary adapt itself to a greater measure of reform than is proposed in this Bill. If industry were seriously prejudiced by the fact that we did not allow the employment of children under conditions which are proved to be injurious, then it is a much more difficult task to defend capitalism than some of us would like to undertake. Those of us who believe in the capitalist system have sufficient confidence in the ability and energy of industry to feel that it will adapt itself to any necessary reform which is introduced in the general social interests of the community.
It is argued that in 1939 the Education Act will be in force, raising the school-leaving age to 15, and that it will be unfair in that it would make for factory employment a different standard of employment than for other forms of employment arid will deny that factory employment can be beneficial employment for children. I listened with interest to the speech of the Noble Lord the Member 620 for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) and there was one point that he made in which he agreed with the Home Secretary of which I cannot see the substance. The Home Secretary and the Noble Lord argued that the acceptance of this Amendment would be a repudiation of the Education Act policy. At the last election, if my memory serves me aright, a Factories Bill had been promised at the same time that we were promised an Education Bill. The whole community acknowledged that a Factories Bill was largely overdue and that there was need in that Factories Bill for a review of juvenile labour conditions. Therefore, I do not see that the point which the Home Secretary and the Noble Lord made is one which need carry much substance when the House comes to judge this particular issue.
I think the answer to the question, why put factories at a disadvantage as compared with other forms of employment? is that if we make a prohibition of this kind in regard to all factory employment we are not putting any factories at a disadvantage, because there is no such thing as a disadvantage in relation to something which is forbidden. If all factories are not to be allowed to have in their employ any children under 15, I believe that industry will adapt itself to that reform. I was told yesterday by one hon. Member that if I was so bold as to express this particular point of view six men representing industry would leap to their feet and say that they would refuse to have any further concessions, and that the Government would not be allowed to give away anything more. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has shown himself so helpful and so wishful to meet the desires of the House that I believe that when he sees that it is the general wish of the House that there should be some further concession he will meet us, either in the direction suggested by the right hon. Member for Ripon, or by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings or, alternatively, that there should be some form of industrial inquiry into juvenile employment, concentrated upon this particular problem, that such inquiry should take place at once and that he will undertake to consider introducing legislation on the report of such an inquiry. The adoption of any of these alternatives would not prevent the passage of the Bill, would not inconvenience seriously the Government's programme, or upset the Govern- 621 ment's policy, but it would give a measure of reassurance to every hon. Member who desires to act, irrespective of party, in the interests of the young people.
§ 5.59 P.m.
I wish to deal with the arguments of the Home Secretary, which were a repetition of those of his predecessor in Committee. We hear the same expression of pious aspirations of something being done some time or other. The Home Secretary said that the Government are precluded from doing what we ask by the obligations of their pledge at the General Election. That is quite a misrepresentation of the position. It is nearly a generation ago since Parliament decided that the school age should be raised. The country demanded it, and every party except the Conservative party made a strong point that they were in favour of raising the school age, and then at the last moment the Government said "We will raise the school age, but there must be exemptions." It was expected that the exemptions would be few, but they have turned out under the policy of the Government to be the general rule. That is another way of keeping a promise to the ear and breaking it to the heart. I challenge the Home Secretary to say whether, in undertaking to raise the school age, they did not put the emphasis on the exemptions. How many more generations are to come and go, how many more pious aspirations are to be expressed before this reform which the country demands is brought into operation? Every school teacher wants to see the school age raised in order to improve the character, the physique and the morale of our people.
The Home Secretary used another argument, that we should be giving a preference to boys running the streets as errand boys instead of laying the foundation of a permanent career in the factories. To start a boy in a factory at the age of 14 is one way of preventing that boy becoming a skilled craftsman. When I started in my trade there were not many of the gadgets for repetition work that there are to-day, and at the age of 14 we were given work to do which developed manipulative skill and dexterity. That has all been taken away. Lads of 14 to-day are put on to feed machines, repetition work, and after 622 12 months of this kind of work their minds are so benumbed that they are incapable of making any new start. Employers are beginning to realise this. An employer in the engineering trade said to me not long ago that he could not get skilled men for love or money, and an employé who was there said, "We have experienced your love but we have never tried your money." There is no doubt that we are not training skilled workers. Why? It may be that these boys on leaving school and going into these repetition jobs and on to piecework become adept and skilled at their job. In the Lea Valley I see advertisements "Boys and girls wanted, school-leavers, piecework and overtime, good jobs." That may be for a year or two, and they earn fairly big money. If they have to start and learn a trade they cannot get the same wages as they do on these repetition jobs and piecework, and therefore they become dissatisfied.
In the Enfield Small Arms factory there are boys taking up repetition jobs under the age of 14. Those who are going to learn a trade have to attend a trade school until they are 15, and if they have done fairly well at the trade school they are taken into the Government factory to learn their skilled trade at 15. If we are to retain our capacity to develop skilled workers we must train these boys from the start. There has been a lot of talk about the great advance which America has made in production. Until quite recently they depended for their highly skilled tool makers on this country. When the engineers were locked out in 1922, 20,000 of our skilled workers went to America. You will not train engineers if you let boys go into the factory to do repetition work, which will in the end make them incapable of learning any skilled trade. I would ask the Home Secretary to inquire what the War Office are doing at the Arsenal and the Enfield Sinai! Arms factory, what the Admiralty are doing in the dockyards, and what the Post Office are doing in the telephone instrument factory. They do not take boys at 14; they require them to learn the rudiments of their business in trade schools because they cannot learn them in the workshops.
This great demand for cheap mass production processes means cheap labour for the employers. So great is the demand 623 that factories in Edmonton are sending motor coaches to Dagenham, 12 miles away, to get batches of girls and boys to do this repetition work in the factories until they are 15. Of course, they happen to earn fairly big money, but when they are 16 and there is no advance for them they get dissatisfied, or perhaps the firm finds an excuse and they are outside the factory. Their parents do not understand it. They think that because their boy cannot get a job there is something wrong with him. They cannot take on a skilled man's job and in that nebulous age they drift from one job to another and get into mischief. One of the greatest problems which the Home Secretary has to face is the number of young people who are getting to the police courts today. Offences are getting fewer amongst the rest of the population, but they are increasing amongst this section. That is because of this early start in dead-end jobs, which brings them in a few shillings but which leave them without a trade at all. That is a very demoralising state of things.
I think the Home Secretary has justification for accepting the Amendment under the pledge of beneficial occupation. I say that there is no beneficial occupation for any young person in a factory unless it is an occupation which is going to teach him a skilled trade. All other work is not beneficial occupation. The Home Secretary referred to a later Clause in which he said they were going to reduce the hours of young people to 44. That is another miserable subterfuge. They are going to reduce hours for some young people under the age of 15, that is for youngsters who are doing work which cannot be called beneficial occupation. In the other case, despite the fact that they may be only 14 years of age, they are still to be employed 48 hours a week. Clause 70 is another way in which the Government keep their promise to the ear and break it to the heart. The nation demands that the Government shall keep their pledge of raising the school age, and these subterfuges are a disgrace, not a saving grace. Let us hear no more of these pious aspirations. Twenty years have gone by and we do not want another 20 years to go by with nothing but these pious aspirations. Let us do away with them. To my mind they are really cant and humbug.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Wing-Commander Wright
The right hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major Hills) said that if we could have a vote of the country on the question of children under 15 going into factories we should have an overwhelming vote against it. I think he is wrong. If he had said that if we had a vote on whether young persons under the age of 15 should be allowed to work at all in factories I agree that we should have an overwhelming vote against it. I was utterly amazed to hear the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) say that he would much rather see young persons going into blind-alley occupations, such as errand boys, than be apprenticed in a modern factory where they would learn a trade which in later life would enable them to earn their livelihood. It is for that reason that I, as a supporter of the Government, and as one who has pressed most strongly for this Clause in the Committee stage and also for shorter hours, shall oppose the Amendment.
I think we are going the wrong way to achieve our object. In fact, I am rather alarmed at the situation which will arise if the Amendment is passed. It seems to me that this matter is an educational one, and if we pass the Amendment we are not raising the school-leaving age. If we pass the Amendment and were definitely raising the school-leaving age, therefore preventing young people coming on to the labour market, it would be an entirely different matter. But we are not, doing anything of the kind. Two-thirds of the possible avenues of occupation would be closed to them, and a large number of these young people on leaving school would have no chance of obtaining any sort of occupation. I cannot believe that that is a situation which we can view with equanimity. There are in this matter two problems which have to be faced. The first is a very serious problem, and does not apply only to young persons up to the age of 15. Blind-alley occupations have been mentioned very much in this Debate, and no one is more opposed to that type of occupation than I am.
It is a dreadful thing that on leaving school young people should get larger wages than they might reasonably expect, but on arriving at the age of 17 or 18 should be thrown out and replaced by 625 another batch of young people. That is a matter which requires, attention of the Government, and to some extent it will receive attention in the new Education Act when it comes into force. I cannot believe that such occupations could be regarded as beneficial. The other problem with which we are concerned is the total abolition of work by young people of this early age. If I thought that by passing this Amendment we would arrive at that, I should be one of its strongest supporters, but I realise that the Amendment would not have that effect. It is an educational matter which has to be tackled from the educational standpoint. For these reasons, I am afraid I shall have to oppose the Amendment.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Buchanan
When this Bill was discussed in the Committee, the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Erdington (Wing-Commander Wright) used similar arguments to those which he has just advanced, and I confess that I did not quite follow him. He said that if The Amendment had meant that no child under 15 years of age would do any work, he would have supported it. I have very little sympathy with such arguments. The hon. and gallant Member said in effect that he would be an extremist if the Amendment permitted him to be one, but since the Amendment would allow him to be only partially extreme, he refused to be extreme at all. What arguments have been made against the Amendment? No hon. Member in any part of the House has said that he wanted young children to work in factories. The argument against the Amendment has been that if it were passed, children would be allowed to go into other walks of life, and to become errand boys, for instance, which might be worse than factory life; but nobody has defended the proposition that young children should work in factories.
I am surprised by the arguments that are put forward by supporters of the Government. They seem to forget that we passed the Education Act. Whether we like that Act or not, it must be recognised that there is in it the provision concerning beneficial employment, and that before a boy can become an errand boy, it has to be proved that the job is beneficial employment. If a particu- 626 lar job as errand boy was worse than factory life, there would be no education committee in the country, no matter how reactionary it might be, which would say that it was beneficial employment. The only cases in which a boy would be allowed to become an errand boy or a newspaper boy, would be those in which his parents satisfied the education committee concerned that the jobs were beneficial employment. A job in a factory could be taken by those young people only if it was proved that it was beneficial employment.
All that the Amendment would do would be to apply to all factories the conditions that a good factory normally observes now. I venture to say that there are not 5 per cent. of the employers who will allow boys to start in a trade before they are 16 years of age. If boys go into factories before that age, they are simply going into blind-alley occupations. The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) was chaffed in the Committee by the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Walker) in much the same way as he has been chaffed to-day. In the Committee the hon. Member for Motherwell said that if he had to choose between the open-air life of a van boy and a confined life in some of the modern factories, he would choose the first, and I think the Noble Lord agreed with him. A van boy at least spends his life in the open air, and has a healthy life.
§ Lord E. Percy
I meant more than that. At any rate in some of the so-called blind-alley jobs, the boys have to change their job at 16, and have a chance of regular factory employment after that. If they go into the factories when they are too young, they may stay until they are perhaps 17 or 18, and not be able to get employment after that.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Frequently that is the case. There is another reason why I am opposed to these young people going into factories. There is nothing worse in modern factory life than the way in which boys in factories become old men before their time. Some years ago I took some interest in factory boys whose fathers had been killed in the War. I remember that one of the foremen complained that modern factory conditions tended to make a boy an old man before his time. Let hon. Members remember 627 that the question is not merely how boys should work, but how they should use their leisure. Work in itself is not the object. The little boys who are engaged in piecework in factories have no joy in life. When I was an apprentice, half of the apprentices' time was taken up with playing pranks, and we got some fun and joy out of life. It was right that we should; we were not men. But the boys who do piecework in factories become old men too soon. An errand boy at 14 years of age still has the chance to play pranks. At that age he has a right to play tricks and a right to joy and happiness.
This provision in the Bill will make a boy of 14 a man before he ought to be one, and that is my chief indictment of it. That may not be a logical position to take tip, but my experience of this House is that it never does anything which is too logical. Hon. Members would be well advised to-day to prohibit any child being employed in a factory until he or she becomes 15. It was argued in the Committee that the parents want the extra wages which these young people get in factories. I am glad that argument has not been made to-day. I come from a district where there is nothing but poverty, and where in so far as they work, the people work for terrible wages. I confess that one thing which amazes me is how the parents will make every sort of sacrifice in order to keep their children at school. To-day there is not a great demand from poor parents to get their children away from school; on the contrary, they remember the hard struggle they had, and try to see that their children have a better chance than they had.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Sir John Withers
I am sorry that I cannot agree with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and I support the Amendment. I do so because I feel that all education ought to go on at least until the children are 15, for all classes. It certainly does for the class to which I belong, and I do not see why it should stop in the case of any other class. This does not represent any change of policy on my part, because I objected very much indeed to the exemptions in the Education Act and voted against them. Therefore, I support the Amendment. I do 628 not propose to say anything more, except to make my position clear. I do not see that there is any reason for bothering about a breach of continuity of policy, because the Education Act does not come into operation until 1939. I hope very much that a modus vivendi will be found between the two sides, but, failing that, I shall with great reluctance have to go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Mr. McCorquodale
I am in agreement with a great deal of what has been said from all sides of the House, but surely the whole question boils down to what was stated by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) in the opening remarks of his speech. At the last General Election, those who supported the Government, I among them, pledged themselves that, if elected, they would see that a Bill was brought in raising the school-leaving age to 15, with exemptions for beneficial employment. I represent an industrial constituency, and I never heard anybody during that Election suggest that factory life, which is the life of two-thirds of the workers of the country, should be excluded from the definition of beneficial employment. If I went to my constituents and said that, having got their votes by promising exemptions for beneficial employment, I was going to double-cross them by bringing in a provision of this sort in this Bill, I should rightly be taken to task as a man who did not stick to his pledges.
The party to which I belong prides itself on sticking to its pledges and carrying them out [Laughter]. I shall not draw the obvious conclusion from the laughter of hon. Members on my right. The sentiments which I am expressing do not evoke much enthusiasm in that quarter. We know from their own record that they do not bother much about pledges. But whether that pledge was right or wrong when we made it, we are for the period of this Parliament bound by it. Nothing that we do in this Parliament ought to be contrary to the pledge on which we secured the votes of the electors. I hope to see the school-leaving age raised to 15 with the consent of all, at the earliest possible moment. I believe that the method of exemptions—exemptions which will, automatically, become 629 fewer and fewer until they virtually disappear—is the best method of raising the age with the consent of the people. That, however, is another matter. With regard to this Amendment I suggest that all those who supported the National Government's programme at the last Election are pledged and that they cannot vote for the Amendment without breaking that pledge.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
I always understood that the pledge given at the last General Election by supporters of the Government was that they were in favour of raising the school-leaving age, with exemptions for beneficial employment. In Committee on the Education Act considerable emphasis was laid on the term "beneficial employment" and argument this afternoon has centred on the question of whether employment of the kind which we are considering can be regarded as beneficial or not. In view of the speeches which have been made from the Government Benches in support of the Amendment, and also in view of the fact that the Chief Whip has now arrived to take charge, it is high time that we had a further statement on this question from the Government. We have observed the conversations which have been going on, and we note that people who have expressed enlightened views on this subject have, at any rate, been consulted by representatives of the Government. One can only 'hope that their views, rather than the views expressed on behalf of the Home Office, are those which will finally be expressed from that Box.
We have seen many attacks in recent weeks on the settled policy of the Government by their own supporters, but none has been more striking than that revealed in the series of speeches from hon. Members opposite this afternoon. Indeed for a long time the Government's only supporter in this Debate was the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten). He, apparently, had forgotten the speech which he made not long ago when he implored the House to allow a calcium carbide factory to be set up in his constituency, and reminded us that Inverness-shire could not live for ever on the Loch Ness monster. What did the hon. and learned Member's speech amount to? It simply brought back into the atmosphere of to-day, the spirit which inspired the worst phases of the indus- 630 trial revolution in its early days when children were marched from one end of the country to the other in labour gangs, to fill the factories of Lancashire and Derbyshire.
It is a tragedy that in 1937 we should have to spend all this time endeavouring to convince this Government that the House of Commons ought to be allowed to do what, obviously, it wants to do on this question. No one can believe, after this Debate that if this Amendment is defeated, it will have been defeated by anthing but the pressure of the Government Whips on Members who have not heard the discussion. Speech after speech has been made from the Government side asking that this Amendment or a similar Amendment, in some form which would fit in with the Government's time-table on educational matters, should be adopted. The speech of the Home Secretary filled me with the gravest misgiving for the future of this Measure if it is to be long under his administration. The administration will depend on the spirit of the person who is at the head of the Department. The right hon. Gentleman has been appealed to by his own supporters to evince in this matter a spirit which would bring his administration into line with the most enlightened administrations that his Department has ever known and it is deplorable that he should have had to make a speech such as he made this afternoon. I can only hope that when the Under-Secretary replies, he will be able to announce that the appeals from his own side, from the Liberal benches and from this side, including the notable speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), have had their effect and that the Government intend, in some form or other, to bring this reform into operation al the earliest possible date.
Can it be argued in these days that the purely repetitive processes in which children are engaged when they go into a factory, offer them beneficial employment? I believe the House has here an opportunity of giving a lead to local education authorities on the question of what is beneficial employment. The onus of deciding has been left to local education authorities under the Education Act. It is said that they are to have regard to the future as well as the present welfare of the children. A point was made in that connection by the Noble Lord the 631 Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy). I think it is the first time the Noble Lord has made a speech in this House with even one sentence of which I found myself in agreement. In some parts his speech to-day was rather reminiscent of Marie Antoinette playing the dairymaid, but he did point out the desirability of stating clearly that this kind of employment is not beneficial. I hope, as I say, that the Under-Secretary will be able to show that he is in line with the views which have been expressed from his own side of the House to-day.
§ 6.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd
I am sorry to have to disappoint the hon. Gentleman's hopes at once, particularly by disagreeing with one remark which he made. He said that this House could give a lead to local education authorities by passing the Amendment. But that would not be giving a lead to the local education authorities. It would be withdrawing entirely from them the power which they have been given by Parliament under the Education Act to grant certificates for beneficial employment between the ages of 14 and 15, with regard to 66 per cent. of the employment available for juveniles. That point put shortly, explains the issue before the House. It was very clearly put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy), although he went on to add certain arguments about which I should like to say a few words. The position is that Parliament has laid down the principle upon which should be decided the question of the employment of juveniles between the ages of 14 and 15. That was done only recently, and the principle, broadly speaking, is that the school-leaving age should be raised to 15, with certificates of exemption in the case of beneficial employment. I shall go into that matter in greater detail later, and I hope to show the House that that is a far more comprehensive and beneficent measure than a great many hon. Members appear to realise.
May I point out what would be the result of passing the Amendment? It would be to say that while local education authorities have power to grant certificates of beneficial employment, there is one employment in the country which, in no circumstances whatever, can be re- 632 garded as beneficial to the juvenile, and that is factory employment—the mainstay of productive industry. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I understand the impatience of hon. Members opposite, but I ask them to restrain it and to consider whether that is or can be a justifiable proposition. I would not venture in a matter of this kind to put my own personal impressions before the House, further than to say that my own constituents in Ladywood, an industrial part of the greatest industrial city in the country, would be very surprised if I went to them and said, "There is one employment to which in no circumstances can your children be sent, and that is the employment which your fathers have followed, and to which you look as a source of livelihood."
What I would put to the House is that we have a considerable amount of information on this question from the juvenile employment committees which, among various bodies in this country, are in the best position to give advice upon the relative values of different types of employment. It is their work, week by week, to advise parents on the best employment into which to put young people. I have asked for a number of reports, and from these reports some interesting facts emerge. I am sure the House will be very glad to hear that parents are in recent years paying more and more attention, not merely to the immediate prospects of their children, but to their permanent prospects, and a very interesting fact is that they are tending to look away from the distributive trades to other occupations, and are looking more towards factory employment.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I am not sure that I have a report here relating to Lancashire. I have one from Cardiff and one from Poplar, and others from many other parts of the country. I think it is a representative selection. Many of us must have had great sympathy with some of the principles expressed in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hastings, but I do not think he was right when he said that he would prefer a child to become an errand, boy rather than go into factory work. It is an interesting detail in the Poplar report 633 which I have here, that an increasing number of parents protest against boys going to shop delivery work, because the boys have to ride cycles which the parents consider to be most dangerous under present-day traffic conditions. I think the right hon. Gentleman raised that very point of the danger involved in factories.
§ Lord E. Percy indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I am sorry; I thought the Noble Lord was referring to the question of danger. At any rate, many other hon. Members were. I think many hon. Members would take the view that there are many factories in which juveniles are employed where they are very much safer inside the factory than outside. I have here a report which reads:Year by year there is noticeably a greater concern that the employment secured shall be such that there is a reasonable prospect of training and continuous employment in adult life. Great sacrifices are being made by parents to ensure as far as possible that the industrial lot of their children shall be superior to that which they themselves have experienced.Another report says:The great majority of girls and more than 50 per cent. of the boys leaving school request factory work.These are the reports of the juvenile advisory committees. Therefore, may I put it to the House in these terms, that it is not the case that it is certain that employment in every factory in the United Kingdom is unsuitable when other work may be suitable? The hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Rowlands) put a very telling point when he said, "Are we to say that no juvenile is to go into a factory and still is to be allowed to go into lead mining and coal mining?" That would not be a reasonable proposition. Of course, it will be unsuitable for juveniles to go into some factories to work, but in certain circumstances it may not be unsuitable. The proposition that I want to put to the House is this, that the Education Act does provide a most formidable scheme for dealing with this question of juvenile employment between these ages, and those requirements will apply to factory and to other occupations. Perhaps the House will allow me to give them a sketch of what will be the sort of procedure which, under the Education Act, a juvenile must go through before he goes into a factory.
634 First of all, I understand that there will be, after the passage of this Bill, a general consultation between local education authorities and the heads of the various local industries for the purpose of going into the standard of juvenile work in the district and, if necessary, considering its possible modification from the point of view of the interests of juveniles. Secondly, every individual application will have to go forward with the consent of the parent or guardian, and the local education authority will have to consider each individual case and consult with the juvenile advisory committee, and in that consideration the education authority will have to have regard to certain conditions.
I think the best thing that I can do, because of the formidable nature of the conditions, is to remind the House of Section 2 of the Education Act. First, the education authority will have to consider the health and physical condition of the child. Next, they will have to have regard as well to the prospective as to the immediate benefit of the employment to the child, and in particular to the nature and probable duration of the employment, the wages to be paid, the hours of work, the opportunities to be afforded to the child for further education, the time available to the child for recreation, and the value, in relation to the future career of the child, of any training or other advantages afforded by the employment. In addition to that, the local education authority shall require such undertakings from the employer as they think necessary in connection with any of the matters mentioned already, and also—and this is very important—for enabling the local authority to satisfy themselves that the employment has not, by reason of any change in the conditions of the employment or for any other reasons, ceased to be beneficial to the child.
I have made inquiries of the Board of Education, and I find that it is the intention of the Board to issue, very shortly, in a matter of weeks, a circular to local education authorities in regard to the Education Act, but I would point out to the House that really public opinion in general, and even Members of this House, have not fully appreciated the comprehensive nature of the safeguards that will exist in future in regard to the employment of juveniles in factory or any 635 other work. I think the House will appreciate the position more fully when I say that I understand that the Board of Education will suggest a model form of the local authorities, which will specify in detail a number of very important requirements, just the sort of requirements that hon. Members have had in mind when they have been discussing this matter this afternoon. First of all, they will have to mention the trade or business, the place where the child will be employed, the date when employment will be available, whether the proposed employment is permanent or temporary, and, if temporary, for how long it will be, to what adult employment the proposed employment will normally lead, and any other advantages offered by the employment. Also they will have to give an undertaking that the employer is prepared to employ the child under an employment certificate, and that if the certificate is granted he will undertake to observe certain conditions.
The local authority can specify the conditions, such, for example, as that there shall be time off for part-time education. They will also have to give a description of the employment, which will involve a precise statement of the process on which the child will be employed, the wage to be paid, and also the hours, not merely the hours in general, but the hours in detail for every day in the week. I think the House will see that we are really in a position where the whole conditions for the employment of juveniles between the ages of 14 and 15 will be modified in accordance with the interests of the juveniles. I suggest that the right principle is to have a comprehensive Measure, like the Education Act, which deals with juvenile employment in a comprehensive way—all employment, not particular employment—and I think we should be very ill-advised to go hamstringing this great instrument of social progress by laying down particular conditions with regard to factories.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison
The speech of the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department will have been heard with very great disappointment by a large proportion of the Members of this House, and that disappointment will not be on this side of the House alone, for we know 636 that there are very many hon. Members opposite, especially those who have listened to this Debate, who will disagree with what the Under-Secretary has said. I almost thought when he began that he was going to suggest that the local education authorities would resent this House interfering with their discretion in the granting of certificates as to beneficial employment. May I assure the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary and the representative of the Board of Education that the local authorities, all of them, would be very glad indeed to be relieved of this discretion, and indeed—it is not a matter that I must pursue on this measure—I have always thought that it was a particularly objectionable, cowardly, and unfair job to place upon the local authorities the duty of making this discrimination.
My hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster (Mr. Short), who, with others, followed this Bill through the Standing Committee upstairs, tells me that the speech which the Under-Secretary has just made was substantially the same speech that he made in the Standing Committee. It really means that, despite the appeals made to him from this side, by a considerable number of his own supporters, and from the Liberal benches, those appeals have had no effect whatever on the Government. They just stand pat where they were in the Standing Committee upstairs. Not only has the Under-Secretary done this, but by the speech which he has delivered—I do not want to take the argument too far —he has, speaking, be it remembered, for His Majesty's Government, almost said to the local education authorities that factory employment between the ages of 14 and 15 is beneficial employment within the meaning of the Act. His words are on record, and I do not know what members of local education authorities faced with applications for exemption on grounds of beneficial employment are going to do when the parents of the children in respect of whom application is being made, and the potential employers, produce the speech of the Under-Secretary which has been made to-day. I do not want to take it too far, and I do not say that this was its literal meaning, but he has gone far to establish the principle that factory employment is beneficial employment within the meaning of the Education Act.
§ Mr. Morrison
The hon. Gentleman, speaking as a Member for Birmingham, largely a factory city, and speaking of the great work done in those factories, assumed that if it were said that factory employment was not beneficial employment, it would be almost an insult to the people who have been following factory employment for this and preceding generations. I assure the hon. Gentleman and the House that when that speech comes to be examined—I am thinking of the words of the speech and of the spirit of it as well—I am certain that it will be used as an argument before local education authorities for the purpose of getting beneficial employment certificates for these children. If that be so, what does it mean? If it be objected to on the ground that 66 per cent. of the children might be affected by this Amendment—it does not frighten me; I wish it were 100 per cent. of the children who would be affected —why did not the Government say at the Election that they were really, in their hearts, taking the view that anything up to 66 per cent. of the children would get exemption certificates under this so-called Education Act to increase the school-leaving age?
No, Sir. We have now got the mind of His Majesty's Government. In resisting this Amendment, in the speech to which we have just listened, and in one or two other speeches—those rare speeches that have supported the Government on this question—we have really got the position that the Government, by resisting this Amendment, are in fact declaring that they intend and desire that the Education Act, increasing the school-leaving age, shall be made a farce in its administration. We always said that that was the case, and we always believed that it was the case, but we now know that it is the case, and the Government had not the honesty to say so, either at the Election or when the Education Act itself was going through. Moreover, there is no effective machinery laid down to see that 638 all the conditions in the Education Act are observed. The speech which the hon. Gentleman has just made, setting out Section 2 of the Education Act of 1936, assumed that these were going to apply automatically, fully, completely. They are not going to apply automatically, fully and completely. The wording of the Section is that the issuing authority, in determining whether any employment will be beneficial, shall have regard to these considerations. That is all.
If the Government mean business on the Education Act, if they believe that the position of the children up to the age of 15 is safeguarded by this Act, the Act would have provided that no education authority shall issue a certificate unless it is satisfied that these conditions are fully met, but all that is provided is that it shall have regard to these considerations. The hon. Gentleman knows, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Board of Education knows, the Government knew when that Act was passed, the Conservative party knew at the election, that this beneficial employment business would drive even progressive education authorities, even Socialist education authorities, because of the pressure they would get from economically hard-pressed parents, to give exemptions on a big scale, in spite of the fact that they would sooner not do so. If the Government will not increase the school-leaving age by a decent, clean-cut piece of administration for which they are responsible, I am not going to carry all their administrative babies. It is not a reasonable thing to expect that the Government can farm out their responsibilities to local education authorities in that shameful way.
This is the issue upon which hon. Gentleman and hon. Ladies will be voting for and against, and let not hon. Ladies who are Conservative Members of Parliament go back to the country and say how they look after the women and children in this House if they vote against this Amendment. I am terribly sorry that the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) is out of the country; I would like to see her here to-night. This is the issue upon which hon. Members will be voting: Is it or is it not desirable that a child under 15 years of age should go to work in a factory? That is the issue, and those who vote against the Amendment will be voting for the view that it is desirable 639 and necessary that children under 15 years of age shall go into a factory.
§ Mr. Morrison
I tell the House that now, and we shall tell the country. We shall tell the electorate that the Conservative party believe that children under 15 must go into a factory—the children of the working class, not the Noble Lord's children. The Conservative party believe that in exactly the same way that the Manchester School of the last century believed that the industrial and economic prosperity of Great Britain would be destroyed if children of five years old did not go into the factories. They are the same kind of people. Members of the Conservative party opposite would not tolerate their own children going to work in this way. They certainly would not tolerate their own children of 15 working at operative tasks in a factory, but they are going into the Lobby to declare that if Great Britain is to be prosperous, the children of the working class have got to do what they would not let their own children do at that age. This Amendment is going to be resisted in order to maintain the class privileges of the well-to-do. The children of the working class are to be sacrificed to-day.
It is being declared that the children of the working class under 15 should go into the factories in order to maintain British industrial prosperity. We do not believe it is essential that they should, and the Tories are going to excuse themselves by saying, "We have passed an Education Act which passes a very awkward, difficult job on to the local education authorities. We know that they will be squeezed by parents and employers. We know that we have put them absolutely in a hole in administering this Act of Parliament, and we are determined by opposing this Amendment to leave them there, because we know that they will be obliged in the circumstances to grant exemption on a substantial scale." And the Conservative party want those exemptions granted on a substantial scale. They want the Education Act to be made a farce. It they did not want to do that, the Board of Education would have provided that could make firm regulations 640 as to the administration of that section. It has not done so. It could have provided for withdrawing grant if these regulations were not observed. If the Government had wanted to do the right thing they would have made a clean decision to raise the school-leaving age to 15. They have not done so because they did not want the school-leaving age to be raised. As a result, the mass of the children of the working people will be driven into the factories; they will be driven to work before the tender age of 15. I desire on behalf of my hon. Friends to thank those Conservative Members very sincerely who have urged the Government to give way on this point. I hope and assume that they will vote with us in the Lobby.
§ Mr. Morrison
I was not referring to the Noble Lord. If the Noble Lord had the impression that I have ever had the slightest thought of him as a progressive, he has made a mistake. The Noble Lord must speak for himself, and not for other people. But I thank those hon. Members who have urged the Government to give way, and I hope that they will express their view by their votes. I urge other hon. Members to come in. I think it is probable that we cannot carry this Amendment, but I urge them to come into the Lobby to let it be known that there is a substantial element in the Conservative party which has some genuine thought for the children of the working classes, and wants to do the right thing even though the Government want to do the wrong thing.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Strauss rose——
I do not see why such a collection of inaccuracies as that to which we have just listened should go without a reply. The right hon. Gentleman has said what he would state about the Conservative party. Let me examine some of his admissions about the Socialist party. If he is right that employment in a factory cannot in any circumstances be beneficial, then it follows that a local education authority, if it does its duty under the Education Act, will refuse to allow a child to go into employment in a factory. The right 641 hon. Gentleman has said, nevertheless, that Socialist education authorities will give exemptions. That is his own statement. If he talks about what the Conservative party think, we can quote what he thinks about the sense of duty of Socialist education authorities.
§ Mr. Strauss
When the Education Bill was before the House hon. Members opposite said that, unless beneficial employment was to be allowed as a ground for exemption, it would be necessary to give maintenance grants. If they carried their present Amendment, the effect would be that the child could not go into a factory but it would not provide the maintenance grants which they said were necessary. Either hon. Members opposite believe that the local education authorities will do their duty, or they do not. If they do not believe in the local education authorities, they should have the courage to say so. The Socialists apparently not only do not believe in the local education authorities, but, to judge by the speech just delivered, they have no belief in the
§ disinterestedness of the parent. The right hon. Gentleman has assumed that the parent will go to the local education authority and ask for an exemption even though the employment is not beneficial. The speech which he has just made, when it is analysed, will be found to be insulting to the parents and insulting to the local education authorities. I am as anxious for education to continue till the child reaches the age of 15 as the majority of hon. Members opposite, but I am certain that you do not get a great educational reform carried into effect if you ignore the wishes of the parents. If the wishes of the parents are to be consulted, it is necessary that they shall have the right—
§ Mr. Strauss
No, to put their case before the local education authority, which is under a duty to have regard to those considerations which are set out in the Act.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 137; Noes, 207.643
|Division No. 226.||AYES.||[7.15 p.m.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Gardner, B. W.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Garro Jones, G. M.||Mander, G. le M.|
|Adamson, W. M.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Marshall, F.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Gibbins, J.||Mathers, G.|
|Amnion, C. G.||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Maxton, J.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Messer, F.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Milner, Major J.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Montague, F.|
|Barr, J.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Harvey, T. E, (Eng. Univ's.)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Bevan, A.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Naytor, T. E.|
|Broad, F. A.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Bromfield, W.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Paling, W.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Parker, J.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hollins, A.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Cape, T.||Hopkin, D.||Price, M. P.|
|Cassells, T.||Jagger, J.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Chater, D.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Ridley, G.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kelly, W. T.||Riley, B.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Ritson, J.|
|Cooks, F. S.||Kirby, B. V.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Lathan, G.||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Daggar, G.||Lawson, J. J.||Rowson, G.|
|Dalton, H.||Leach, W.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Davidson, J. J, (Maryhill)||Lee, F.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Leonard, W.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Leslie, J. R.||Shinwell, E.|
|Day, H.||Logan, D. G.||Short, A.|
|Dobbie, W.||Lunn, W.||Silkin, L.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Ede, J. C.||McEntee, V. La T.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||McGhee, H. G.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||McGovern, J.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||MacLaren, A.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Frankel, D.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Smith, T. (Normanton)||Viant, S. P.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Stephen, C.||Walker, J.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Stowart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)||Watkins, F. C.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Watson, W. McL.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Welsh, J. C.|
|Thorne, W.||Westwood, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Thurtle, E.||White, H. Graham||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Groves.|
|Tinker, J. J.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Ganzoni, Sir J.||Pilkington, R.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Gluckstein, L. H.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Radford, E. A.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Gower, Sir R. V.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Apsley, Lord||Grant-Ferris, R.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Balniel, Lord||Grimston, R. V.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Guy, J. C. M.||Remer, J. R.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N.||Hannah, I. C.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Bracken, B.||Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Rowlands, G.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Russell, Sir Alexander|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Higgs, W. F.||Salt, E. W.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Sandys, E. D.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Holmes, J. S.||Selley, H. R.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Gary, R. A.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Cayter, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Hunter, T.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Channon, H.||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.|
|Choriton, A. E. L.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Spens, W. P.|
|Christie, J. A.||Keeling, E. H.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'ld)|
|Clarke, F. E. (Dartford)||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Cox, H. B. T.||Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Croft, Brig-Gen. Sir H. Page||Leckie, J. A.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Crooke, J. S.||Lewis, O.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Lindsay, K. M.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Cross, R. H.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Lloyd, G. W.||Tilchfield, Marquess of|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Touche, G. C.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Lyons, A. M.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Mabane, W. (Huddarsfield)||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|De la Bère, R.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Turton, R. H.|
|Denville, Alfred||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Donner, P. W.||McKie, J. H.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H.||Macquisten, F. A.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Dower, Major A. V. G.||Maitland, A.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Dunglass, Lord||Markham, S. F.||Watt, G. S. H.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Wells, S. R.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Emery, J. F.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H H.||Wise, A. R.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Errington, E.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Wragg, H.|
|Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||Patrick, C. M.||Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.|
|Everard, W. L.||Peake, O.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Fildes, Sir H.||Peat, C. U.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Furness, S. N.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Major Dugdale and Mr. Munro.|
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Short
I beg to move, in page 56, line 22, to leave out "woman or young."
We do not propose to have a long debate on this matter, because we want to get to the further Amendment on the 40-hour week. This Clause covers only women and young persons, and fixes the weekly hours of labour at 48. If the Amendment is adopted it will mean that the 48-hour week will apply to all adult labour. Hitherto, our factory legislation has not sought to fix the weekly hours of adult labour, except in regard to the coal industry. During the Second Reading Debate the Home Secretary said that this was purely an economic question. I do not know why he used the word "economic," because it is clear that hours of labour are of an economic character and involve economic considerations. The principal industries have already adopted the 48-hour week, or considerably less. In the engineering, coal mining, shipbuilding and the building trades 48 hours or considerably less operate. In the iron and steel industry the hours of labour are 44, and I am told that in some cases they are less. This is largely due to collective bargaining and the growth of the power of trade unionism.
The giving of statutory authority to a 48-hour week would not, having regard to what exists in these great industries, ruin or injure industry. It is strange that I should be moving an Amendment to give statutory authority to a 48-hour week when the majority of countries have already passed legislation in favour of 48 hours and many countries have adopted a 40-hour week. While it is true that the weekly hours of labour in the great industries I have mentioned are 48 or less, we have ample evidence that very long hours in excess of 48 are being worked in certain industries. I am assured that as many as 70, 75 and 80 hours a week, in some cases without even payment for overtime, are worked. The adoption of this Amendment would have a very desirable effect in industry.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Sir S. Hoare
The hon. Member began by saying that he would keep his observations short, and I will follow in his footsteps. I am bold enough to hope that upon further consideration he will feel that it is wiser not to press an Amendment of this kind in a Factories Bill. The 646 scope of a Factories Bill is really confined to considerations of health, safety and welfare, particularly for those portions of the population, be they men, women or young persons, who need particular protection. Hitherto, as he admitted, we have never included in a Factories Bill provision as to the conditions of labour for adult men, and to-night I shall not get into any argument which might open so wide an issue. I will only say that that is essentially a problem to be dealt with on broad social and economic grounds in a comprehensive Measure, rather than in an Amendment to a Bill the main object of which is to protect the health and welfare of workers like women and young persons. Moreover, I think the hon. Member would find that if he did succeed in persuading the House to pass his Amendment, it would "make hay" of the Bill, and lead almost to the need for it to be completely redrafted from beginning to end.
Further, I am not sure that he would confer a particular benefit on adult men if he succeeded in getting this provision passed without corresponding provision to safeguard the standard of wages. He will see how dangerous it would be to leave a proposal of this kind hanging in the air, so to speak, when international conventions and conferences have always contemplated that side by side with statutory enactments regulating hours of labour there should be provisions for safeguarding the standard of wages. Lastly, I would suggest that it is far better to deal with wages and conditions for adult men by the well tried method of collective bargaining. He mentioned the success which has been achieved by trade unions in the field of collective bargaining. I am inclined to think that if his Amendment were passed a very serious blow would be struck at the whole basis of collective bargaining. For these reasons I must ask the House to reject the Amendment.
§ 7.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Mander
We on these benches cannot allow this occasion to pass without strongly supporting the Amendment. It is lamentable that at this time of day we still have to admit that we cannot or dare not include in a Factories Bill a 48-hour week for male workers. That is an astonishing situation and shows how backward we still are. We are no longer lea ding the world in industrial reform, as 647 we have been in the habit of doing. Apparently certain employers will not let us touch the question of the hours for men. In 1919 the Washington 48-hours Convention was passed. We agreed to it, but we have not ratified it. The excuse has always been that ratification did not matter in our case, because we had got the 48-hours week, but now it is admitted that in many instances people are still working in excess of 48 hours. I know of cases, there are many in the Black Country area of the Midlands, as, no doubt, there are elsewhere, in which small employers operate the full 60-hour week and no overtime rates are paid. The Home Secretary defended the omission of men from this Bill on the ground that it was dealing only with questions of health, safety and welfare. Surely it is not to the advantage of the health, safety or welfare of men that they should work 60 hours a week the whole year round.
The right hon. Gentleman also said the proposal would deal a blow at collective bargaining. I do not think the trade unions will take that point of view, and on trade union matters I would prefer to take advice from the trade union leaders, who are doubtless in a better position to judge. Further, it is in cases where there is no collective bargaining, no trade unions, that these long hours are worked, and they are the cases in which protection by Factory Bill legislation is required. I regret that the Government have not had the courage to include men, because I feel they might safely have done so. As they can see, opinion in the country and the House is far in advance of what they imagine it to be. We on these benches will go into the Lobby to give warm support to the Amendment.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Walker
It is astonishing how often we hear from the Treasury Bench how desirous the Government are not to interfere with the work of trade unions. We on these benches are not asking the Government to give us the 48-hour week in industries in which trade unions are
§ strong and well organised. If we were asking for any regulation of hours on those lines we should probably be asking for the 40-hour week instead of the 48-hour, and we should not be asking for more than has been given by Governments in other countries which seem to be much more advanced than our own Government. Surely the Home Secretary knows that while there are some 12,000,000 to 13,000,000 people employed in this country the organised workers number only about 4,000,000, and this Bill, which is catering for women and children, is catering for those who are unorganised. The fact that they have been unorganised has been the basic reason throughout the years for undertaking factory legislation at all—because they were not able to protect themselves. If we say that there should be a maximum of 48 hours work a week for women and young persons in a factory surely the same rule ought to apply to the male adults working there. The Government admit that the 48-hour week has already been established by trade union action in certain industries. Are we to take it that where the trade unions can get the shorter working week the Government say, "Well, we do not object to it, but we are not really in favour of it, because we are not going to apply it in the cases where the trade unions are not strong and where the employers are able to keep people working 56 and 60 hours a week"? The Home Secretary ought to be logical and grant the 48-hour week to adult males as well as to women and young persons employed in factories. They would not be doing anything revolutionary from the trade union point of view. As a trade union official I can say that trade unionists would not regard it as in any way damaging to collective bargaining or the trade unions if this Amendment were carried.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 193; Noes, 125.649
|Division No. 227.]||AYES.||[7.40 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt-Col. G. J.||Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Bennett, Sir E. N.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Balniel, Lord||Bossom, A. C.|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Boulton, W. W.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (G. of Ldn.)||Burnish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Bower, Comdr. R. T.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Guy, J. C. M.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Brown, Col. D, C. (Hexham)||Hannah, I. C.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Bull, B. B.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Cartland, J R. H.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Remer, J. R.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Cary, R. A.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Higgs, W. F.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Rowlands, G.|
|Channon, H.||Holmes, J. S.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Chorlton, A. E. L.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Christie, J. A.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Salt, E. W|
|Clarke, F. E. (Dartford)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Samuel, M. R, A.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Selley, H. R.|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Hunter, T.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs)||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Keeling, E. H.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cox, H. B. T.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Paga||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Spens, W. P.|
|Crooke, J. S.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'ld)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Latham, Sir P.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Cross, R. H.||Leckie, J. A.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Lewis, O.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Lindsay, K. M.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Lloyd, G. W.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|De la Bère, R.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lyons, A. M.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Denville, Alfred||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Donner, P. W.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H.||McKie, J. H.||Touche, G. C,|
|Dower, Major A. V. G.||Macmillan, H. (Stookton-on-Tees)||Train, Sir J.|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Macquisten, F. A.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Maitland, A.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Markham, S. F.||Turton, R. H.|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Emery, J. F.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Watt, G. S. H.|
|Errington, E.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Everard, W. L.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Wells, S. R.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Furness, S. N.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Ganzoni, Sir J.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Wise, A. R.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Peat, C. U.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Gluckstein, L. H.||Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Wragg, H.|
|Gower, Sir R. V.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Pilkington, R.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Procter, Major H. A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grimston, R. V.||Radford, E. A.||Major Dugdale and Mr. Munro.|
|Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Cocks, F. S.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)|
|Adamson, W. M.||Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Daggar, G.||Harris, Sir P. A.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Dalton, H.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)|
|Barnes, A. J.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)|
|Barr, J.||Dobbie, W.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)|
|Batey, J.||Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Hollins, A.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Ede, J. C.||Hopkin, D.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Jagger, J.|
|Broad, F. A.||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R, T. H.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)|
|Bromfield, W.||Frankel, D.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Gardner, B. W.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Buchanan, G.||Garro Jones, G. M.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.|
|Burke, W. A.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Kirby, B. V.|
|Cape, T.||Gibbins, J.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Lawson, J. J.|
|Chater, D.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Leach, W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Lee, F.|
|Leonard, W.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Stephen, C.|
|Leslie, J. R.||Price, M. P.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ghfn-le-Sp'ng)|
|Lagan, D. G.||Pritt, D. N.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Lunn, W.||Ridley, G.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Riley, B.||Thorne, W.|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Ritson, J.||Thurtle, E.|
|McGhee, H. G.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)||Tinker, J. J.|
|MacLaren, A.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Viant, S. P.|
|Mander, G. le M.||Rowson, G.||Walker, J.|
|Marshall, F.||Sanders, W. S.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Mathers, G.||Seely, Sir H. M.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Maxton, J.||Sexton, T. M.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Messer, F.||Shinwell, E.||Westwood, J.|
|Milner, Major J.||Short, A.||White, H. Graham|
|Montague, F.||Silkin, L.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Silverman, S. S.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Simpson, F. B.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Oliver, G. H.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Paling, W.||Smith, E. (Stoke)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Parker, J.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Groves.|
|Parkinson, J. A||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Dobbie
I beg to move, in page 56, line 27, to leave out "forty-eight," and to insert "forty."
I am sorry that I shall not be able to join with those who are eulogising the Government for the Bill or for the Clause. The Bill is long overdue—not this not, but better one. This Bill is a reflection upon the desire of the Government to promote legislation of a progressive character, because they have left this subject until they have been compelled by public opinion to make a move. It is stated that the Bill is based upon the experience of the Factory Act during the last 30 years; if that is so, it is on the basis of the worst employers in the country. At a time when trade unions are demanding a 40-hour working week, when the 40-hour working week is actually in existence in some factories in this country and when international discussions are taking place on the basis of a 40-hour working week, the Government are bringing in a Bill which condemns women and young persons affected by it to a 48-hour working week, in all probability for the next 30 years. If we are as long in having a review of factory conditions as we have been on this occasion, it means that for the next 30 years, according to the Bill, women and young persons its this country will be working a 48-hour week.
Women are more and more demanding equality of opportunity in life. I hope the Bill will he a warning and will act as an incentive to them not to expect much from this Government, but to depend a great deal more upon their trade union movement. Many decent employers are doing a great deal better in respect of 652 hours of labour than is provided by the Bill, and instead of the Measure acting as a lead to good employers, it will act only as an incentive to the worst employers to carry on their own methods. Remembering that a young person is one between the ages of 14 and 18 years, I suggest to hon. Members that the proposition contained in the Bill and in the Clause is monstrous. I hope the House will renounce the Clause and will accept the Amendment. Surely all workers, male and female, young and old, are entitled to a better share of the comfort and leisure that the application of science, knowledge and machinery to industry makes possible at this time. Surely they are entitled to a greater degree of leisure than this Bill will give them.
After 30 years' experience in regard to the hours of labour for women and young persons, the Bill, as it is now before us, appears to be 30 years behind the time. At the time when we are talking of raising the school-leaving age, most people to 15 and the more progressive-minded people to 16, we are by the Bill and the Clause, saying that young people of 14 years of age, who are in fact children, should be allowed to work 48 hours a week. It is not only 48, because the children will be harnessed to their employment for considerably more hours than that.
§ Mr. Denman
May I ask your guidance Mr. Speaker? The question of the hours for children of from 14 to 16 years of age is due to come up on Clause 70. Are we also to discuss the question now?
§ Mr. Dobbie
I was taking my standpoint on the definition in the Bill of a young person as one between 14 and 18 years of age, and that was the basis of my reference to ages. It is not only a question of 48 hours a week. These children will be harnessed to industry and to their jobs for considerably more than 48 hours. The 48-hour week will probably be worked in five long and one short days. With the time allowed for meals, probably one hour a day, the total will be 53 hours. In many instances—hundreds of thousands—people are compelled to spend a considerable time travelling to and from their work. If we add another hour per day to the total, we shall be rapidly approaching a 60-hour week in which those young people will be harnessed to their industry. We contend that that is far too much.
What chance will those young people have after their day's work for leisure to remember that they are young and growing? They are really children, but they will 13e away from home for nearly 12 hours a day. What opportunity will they have to take advantage of educational facilities which are placed at their disposal, or to reach higher standards of physical training and development? There will be no opportunity, because they will be too tired in the evening to take advantage of those physical and educational facilities. Probably only those who have themselves experienced it understand the tragedy of long hours of work. Most hon. Members on this side of the House have had that experience, and probably a number on the other side also. I am confident that any man or woman who has had the experience of long hours of hard work when they were young must vote for the Amendment. I beg hon. Members on both sides of the House to remember that they have a sacred duty to the young people who are the future citizens of the country, and to remember that in their young lives those young people ought to have an opportunity, which they cannot have when they are compelled to work, as they will be Under the Bill and if this Clause stands as it is, to develop all that is best in them, physically and mentally.
§ 7.59 P.m.
§ Mr. Kelly
I beg to second the Amendment.
654 I ask hon. Members who have had no experience of factory life or of the life of the shops to try to use their imagination upon what it means to young people to work in big industrial centres for 48 hours a week. They will have long distances to travel, particularly in the great cities, and it may take them an hour or more to reach their employment and the same time to reach their homes in the evening. In the year 1937 is it just to the children of this country to force upon them a 48-hour week at a time when we are asking them to consider improving their education and their physical fitness? As my hon. Friend has pointed out, those of us who had to work for 48 hours a week, and also to try to take advantage of the education given in our technical schools and evening institutes, realise that this is too great a burden to impose upon the children of our country. Without such a provision as this in the Bill, there will be little chance of those children securing what they are justly entitled to, namely, that their working week should not be longer than 40 hours. We know that children of 15 have not received sufficient education to fit them to take the place we desire to see them take in adult life, but there is little chance of their gaining that sufficient education if they are required to work a 48-hour week. Some of us gave evidence before the Commission which recently sat at the Home Office with regard to young people in unregulated occupations, and I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that even members of their own party who were engaged in public life saw the necessity for reducing the hours, not merely to 48, but even to the 40 for which this Amendment asks.
All the objections to a reduction of hours that have been put forward during these Debates have been put to us for the last 40 years whenever we have attempted to secure a shorter working week. We were then told that the industries could not stand it, that the industries would be ruined if the hours were reduced from 54 to 53, and again to 47 and 44, as has been the case in many industries in this country; but we have seen that, with a shorter working week, there has been even greater prosperity in those industries than there was when the longer working week was in force. While industry must have consideration, the interests of the children must come first, and surely the interest of the children demands that they should 655 not be called upon to work in industry for more than 40 hours a week. Even those are long hours when we consider that these children have just left school, where they have been attending for many less hours, and to insist that they shall work for 48 hours a week is not treating the children of this country in the way in which they have a right to be treated.
Then there is the question of accidents, to which many references have been made during these Debates. In fact, the Home Secretary himself stated that it was not only his intention, but his determination, to do all that he possibly could to reduce the number of accidents to children. When children are tired, they often meet with accidents, from which sometimes they suffer permanent injuries. Surely the Home Secretary is going to live up to his statement in this House that he is anxious to avoid these accidents and to prevent the suffering that arises from them. I ask him to implement that statement by accepting this Amendment and giving the children of the country conditions that will enable them the better to fit themselves to take their place alongside us in later life. We have no right to take every ounce out of the children. [An HON. MEMBER: "And women, too!"] I am particularly referring to children. The child life of this country must have the first consideration, but I would ask that women also should not be called upon to work in industry for more than 40 hours a week. The industries would be the better in all respects if a 40-hour week were in operation for them as well as for the young people.
As far back as 1919, it was only a very narrow majority that prevented a 40-hour week from being put into operation for the children of this country, when a Government Committee was considering this matter, and surely the experience since then justifies us in saying that a 40-hour week for children is adequate for any industry. We are told of the conditions when the present Factory Act was passed in 1901, but we have to think in terms of 1937 We live in an age of increasing speed and increasing use of machinery, not only in factories and workshops, but even in offices. To-day, an office of any dimensions sounds almost like a shipyard, because of the number of machines that are in operation there. I would urge that the children of the 656 present day should be given a better opportunity than was given to some of us who went through the mill in the past, and I suggest that the Government would only be doing their duty to the country if they accepted this Amendment and agreed to the 40-hour week.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie
We have heard from the Home Secretary of the great social Measures that have come from the Conservative party in days gone by. Those were the days of the outs and ins, the days when the Tory landlord class used to get their own back from the Whig manufacturing class. To-day, country after country is adopting the 40-hour week, not for young persons only, but for adults—
§ Mr. Leslie
I want to emphasise that it is not for less wages, because, in almost every country, not only have the earnings been safeguarded, but actual increases in wages have been given.
§ Mr. Leslie
If it is right to adopt a 40-hour week for adults, surely it is right that young persons should not be asked to work more than 40 hours a week. Imagine the severe strain on a boy or girl who is taken from a school where there is a 28-hour week and dumped into a factory to work 48 hours or more. Moreover, the hours are not confined to 48, because under the Bill 100 hours' overtime may be worked per annum, although only in 1934 an Act was passed by this House restricting the number of overtime hours to 50 per annum for another section of young people. We know that juvenile employment committees all over the country are unanimously opposed to these long hours for young people. They tell us that they are anxious that these young people should attend educational classes in the evening, but they are too tired and are unable to do so. We know that education authorities all over the country seek to encourage young people to attend these evening classes. They do so by catering for the social side, but they find that, 657 because of the long hours, young people are unable to attend, and, therefore, they are denied the advantage of improving themselves mentally and physically.
The Home Secretary has told us this afternoon that it was inadvisable for the Government to depart from their policy. I wonder whether the Government have a policy. They went to Geneva and supported the raising of the age of entry for boys in ships to 15. Surely, life on the ocean wave is much healthier than life in a factory. If it were right, as it was right, for them to support the raising of the age to 15 for boys in ships, can it be wrong for them to agree to raise the age to r5 for boys and girls entering a factory?
As regards accidents, the report of the chief inspector shows that the accidents to young workers had risen from 3 per cent. in 1928 to 22 per cent. in 1935, owing in the main to the long hours that these young people had to work. The chief inspector also pointed out the serious effect of long hours in slowing down production, some factories having actually reverted to shorter hours. We know that the experience in war-time was that in many cases the long hours had to be reduced because of the medical reports, and the first thing that the United States did when they entered the War was to reduce the working hours in munition factories. The inspector also pointed out the distressing fact that these long hours were worked by those who were physically the least fit, and there were definite complaints of fatigue. Surely, it is not too much to ask the Government to accept this limit of 40 hours per week for young persons under 18.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I find myself in a little difficulty with this Amendment. There is an Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman) on the next Clause, to reduce working hours from 44 to 40 in the case of young people under 16. I quite admit that this Amendment goes rather further than that in the name of the hon. Member for Central Leeds. At the same time, as far as I have listened to the argument, it appears to me almost entirely directed to the same point as that which will arise on the later Amendment. All I want to point out is that, if we take it on this wide ground now, must not repeat the arguments on the later Amendment.
§ Mr. Denman
The points are very different. Clause 70 relates solely to young persons under 16. This Clause relates solely to young persons above 16 and to women. I very much deprecate mixing up the arguments relating to women with those relating to young persons. If it were possible to keep the two classes separate, it would certainly simplify argument.
§ Sir S. Hoare
I agree with the hon. Member that there are two separate cases. At the same time in actual practice, as we have found in the course of the Debate, it is almost impossible to keep them separate. I should suggest that it would be better really to take a general Debate now, voting upon the specific Amendments when they are called. Otherwise it will be extremely difficult to avoid overlapping.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That is exactly the point that occurred to me. Mr. Speaker left the Chair before the Debate had got very far, but the bulk of the arguments that I have so far heard have been directed to young persons rather than to women. It is almost impossible to carry on the Debate without referring to young persons and I think it is better to take a general Debate on the question, reserving the right of the hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman) to take a Division on his Amendment if he wishes so to do.
§ Mr. Denman
That, no doubt, is the most convenient course for the House, though it is not the most agreeable from my point of view.
§ Sir John Haslam
May I point out that it is hardly in order for every speaker to refer to children of 14 and 15 years of age as being compelled to work 48 hours? There is a Clause, I think Clause 70, which distinctly says they shall not work more than 44 hours. When hon. Members refer to young persons of 17 and 18 and women they are quite in order, but every speaker up to the present has talked about children of 14 years of age working 48 hours, which is not correct.
§ 8.18 p.m.
The Ruling that you, Sir, have given about grouping together women and children, adds to the difficulty 659 that many of us are in. It certainly makes the position on this Amendment very difficult. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) has said that the interests of the children ought to come first, and I entirely agree, but this Amendment is not concerned only with children. If it were, different considerations would arise. After your Ruling I do not propose to say very much about children, because that will come better on the Amendment of the hon. Member below me. As far as the younger children are concerned, I think there is a strong case for the Amendment. When I come to adult women, which the Amendment includes, I disagree. I do not believe that either in the interests of women or in the interests of the community it is a good thing to put these restrictions on women's labour. I believe that these so-called advantages for women usually work to their detriment. If this Amendment were passed, no grown woman could work more than 40 hours a week. Whatever our opinion on hours of labour are, I do not believe in differentiating between men and women, and I do not believe in regulating their hours by statute. Men have won shorter hours not by legislation but by trade union action. In the immense majority of the large organised trades men now work 48 hours a week. According to the last figures that I have seen over 97 per cent. of the men in the great organised trades are now working for less than 48 hours.
I believe that what applies to men applies also to women. I believe that they have to win their position by their political power and by organisation, and I do not think that you will do them any good by imposing these restrictions on them. It simply means that they are excluded from the labour market and do not get the employment that they otherwise would get. I know that the Mover of the Amendment has the interests of women at heart, but I do not believe that the Amendment carries them out. I believe, on the contrary, that women are in this sort of case best left in the same position as men and that they should obtain lower hours of work by their own efforts rather than by special legislation of this kind.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Sanders
I have listened with great surprise to the right hon. and gallant 660 Gentleman's speech. I am usually in agreement with him when he is dealing with social and labour questions, but apparently on this matter he is back in the days before the passing of the 10 hours Bill, nearly 100 years ago. If he examines the Trade Boards Act, with which I believe many hon. Members opposite agree, he will find that the hours of women, as well as of men, are regulated by legislation and, if we are to act on the principle that we are never to interfere with adult labour by legislation, we are putting back the clock a considerable number of years. I wish to draw attention to the position of our country in connection especially with the hours of what are called young people, who are still children, in factories, in comparison with a number of other countries. The Minister of Health on the Second Reading declared that the Bill gave a charter to the working people—and I suppose he included children and young people—which was better than any charter in any other country in the world. I want to challenge that. It has been stated on this side on several occasions that there are a large number of countries where the hours of labour for young people and children are shorter and the conditions better than those contained in this Bill, and especially in this Clause.
what are the facts? I have here a list of 29 countries and States where the hours of young people are less than the hours provided in this Bill. I will just mention one or two of the more important ones because they are the most impressive. They are countries which can be compared most justly with our own. The 40-hour Act in France applies to young persons just as much as it does to adults, and France is a considerable industrial country as well as being a great agricultural country. There is a smaller country, a very admirably run country, where the conditions, generally speaking, are on a higher level of civilisation and culture. It is not a big country, and it may perhaps be said that it should not be taken quite so seriously. It is a bigger job as a small country to compete industrially with big countries, and, therefore, it is all to its credit when it improves the condition of its workers. That country is Finland, where no young person under the age of 13 is allowed to work more than 36 hours per week. There are also several of the big industrial States of 661 America. In Mississippi, which is not one of the great industrial States, nobody under 16 is allowed to work more than 44 hours per week; in New York no one under 16 is allowed to work for more than that number of hours per week, and in Pennsylvania, which is the most important of all the industrial States of America, no person under 18 years of age is allowed to work for more than 44 hours per week. And so I could go on. In the Irish Free State, which has a certain amount of industry, no person under the age of 18 is allowed to work more than 40 hours per week.
In the face of that we can say on this side of the House quite sincerely that we, the great pioneers in modern capitalist industry, compelled as we were by the decline of health and vigour of our population to bring in factory legislation, a country, as confessed by the Government, anxious about the general health and physical condition of the young people, are lagging behind and are not now in the forefront. It is time that we took up our old position that every country naturally looks to us to take, as we were the first of the great capitalist countries to show the way. An hon. Member asked a little while ago, Is it possible to carry on captalism and to modify it so as to get rid of these abuses? If it is not, let us have the admission from the other side, but if it is possible, it is the business of hon. Members opposite who support the capitalist system to see how it can be modified, even to carry out their desires from the point of view of the physical fitness of the nation.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. G. A. Morrison
I wish to say a few words on the Amendment, chiefly in the interests of young people between the ages of 16 and 18. I intend to support the Amendment which my hon. Friend is going to move, but it does not touch the problem of young people over i6. I am very keen on continuation education not merely to 16 but right up to 18. Hon. Members will be aware that we have on the Statute Book in the Acts of 1918 a complete system of continuation education enacted. These Statutes have remained a dead letter. When the day comes—and I hope that it will not be long—when we shall be able to put these into operation, I want to see that they have a fair chance. My considered 662 opinion is that if the hours remain at 48, then continuation education will not have a fair chance. Anyone who has had to do with young people who have left school must be aware that the years immediately after they leave school are vitally important for the retention of what they have learnt at school. It is a very saddening thing to have to examine young people some years after they have left school and to find out how much they have forgotten. Up to the age of 14 or the ordinary school-leaving age most children are occupied in acquiring the tools of thought, and unless they have during the next few years some practice in using these, they are apt to forget very quickly.
If continuation education is to be real and effective, a minimum of about eight hours should be given to it. There was another possible approach to the problem. It might have been laid down that 48 hours should be maintained, but that they should include hours of continuation education. That was at least one possible approach to the problem, but it has not been followed. Forty hours is quite a long enough time to ask young people to work if they have to have education and also recreation and physical training along with it. Again, we must take into account the fact that young people under present conditions, especially in the large towns, have to travel long distances to and from their work. I was greatly impressed in both physical training Debates by the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) when he said that for young people who had to work long hours and work hard the best possible recreation would sometimes be complete rest. I want to see something done to help these young people for whom he pleaded so eloquently. It is not as if the suggested 40 hours were a clean-cut period. There is the question of overtime which will be possible for a large portion of the year for many young people. It is because I want to see the practice of the best employers made the practice at least of the average employer that I support the Amendment.
§ 8.34 P.m.
§ Mr. Mander
I was appealing just now for a statutory 48-hour week for men, but that having been rejected, I see no reason why I should not endeavour to get a 663 40-hour week for women. I support the Amendment, the more so because my experience as an employer has been that it is perfectly practical to have a 40-hour week for women and young persons, and for men too for that matter, without any reduction in earnings. I believe that, certainly wherever in industry to-day rationalisation and reorganisation of any kind are taking place, it is asking no unreasonable thing for a 40-hour week to be introduced. I believe that it can be done with advantage to everybody concerned, and that we should not be imposing any unreasonable and undue burden if we passed an Amendment giving a 40-hour week for women and young persons. I was interested in what was said the other day by M. Lebas, the French Minister of Labour at Geneva, that France had recently, in applying her 40-hour week, by 56 decrees brought 7,800,000 persons within its scope. That includes women and young persons. It makes my mouth water and makes one feel what rare and refreshing fruit has been produced from that particular tree of Popular Front Government.
Colonel Sandeman Allen
Does the hon. Member want to see the financial conditions of France produced in this country?
§ Mr. Mander
My hon. and gallant Friend had better wait and see what happens in France and what can be done by a very powerful Government, backed by the people, which exists there at the present time. I cannot help feeling a good deal of disappointment at the Amendment that has been brought forward by the Government as a result of the deliberations in Committee. The Government have to a certain extent met the feelings of the Committee. They were pressed on all sides, and I think most hon. Members who took part in those discussions based their hope on a 40-hour week. I think the Home Secretary mentioned 42, or perhaps he said 44, but I do not think that many of us anticipated that the concession would only be 44 hours for young persons between the ages of 14 and 16.
If you are going to take the trouble of upsetting people industrially by changing their hours, you might as well do it for something that is worth while. You would 664 not get much more disturbance by instituting a 40-hour week than by instituting a 44-hour week. In a few years we shall have to regard 15 as the normal school-leaving age. We shall find then that the 44-hour week will apply only to young persons between the ages of 15 and 16. That fact makes it all the more regrettable that the Government have not done something more worth while when they were about it. That is why we ought to press this Amendment.
If the Home Secretary cannot accept the Amendment, would it be possible for him to consider in this case, as in certain others that will come before the House, post-dating the operation of the 40-hour week for four, five or even 10 years? The point is that we should fix some appreciable period for its operation before the next Factories Bill, which may be 20 or 30 years ahead. We are going to have a 40-hour week in this country and in the world for all persons some-time, and perhaps not far ahead, and we shall have to make a start somewhere. Could we not start on a less ambitious scale by saying that in this Factories Bill, with the backing of public opinion and with support from all quarters of the House, we will provide for all young persons between 15 and r6—that is what it will be soon, and not 14 to r6—there shall be a 40-hour week instead of the 44-hour week which the Government are proposing?
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Denman
The Debate has been mainly devoted to the position of young persons, and I am afraid that I shall have to repeat some of the arguments that have already been advanced. The Clause with which my Amendment deals has certain special features. I wish we could recapture the spirit of the Committee upstairs. I do not think the Home Secretary can realise what an admirable Committee that was. There was an atmosphere of collective enterprise and common pride in a great work, and it is very difficult to reproduce that atmosphere on the Floor of this House. I am afraid that we shall not get the best Amendment of the Bill until we have a continuation of that spirit of collective enterprise and cooperation between the Government and all sections of the House. It is in that spirit that I want to argue the case on behalf of the children from 14 to 16.
665 The House will remember that before the Bill was introduced the hours were from 55½ to 60. The Bill was introduced with a 48-hour week proposed in it. In Committee we got a concession which appears in Clause 70 by which there is a 44-hour week, with exemptions. I would ask the House to note those exemptions, because they are of some importance. It is clear that the principle of a minimum hour, with exemptions, was one which the House would have to accept, and we must argue on that basis. The effect of the exemptions makes a considerable difference to the precise number of hours. Do we still, in spite of the exemptions, ask for 40 hours? I think we do. We still maintain that for children up to i6 years of age 40 hours are quite enough.
Forty hours is not a fancy figure simply taken out of the imagination of various hon. Members. It is not a catch phrase. It represents the experience of a large number of select employers on the one hand, and also the experience of one particular authority and the employers within the area of that authority, namely, Rugby. Rugby has adopted a scheme which this House approved nearly 20 years ago, whereby all children up to 16 have to go to day continuation classes. What is happening in Rugby for the whole area is that these young people are working in a great variety of occupations for approximately a 40-hour week, with 7½ hours each week of continuation classes on top of it. That is where we really get the 40 hours from. It is a figure of experience. It has always been the method of factory legislation in this country to take the best current experience and to build up on that. We have never attempted to go far in advance. We have always taken the standard which is recognised and which works, and have built up on that basis.
There is one really formidable argument in connection with exemptions, and that is, that if under a system of exemptions you take the figure as, say, 40 hours rather than 44, you will not only encourage employers to seek exemption, because they will find added difficulty in making their adjustments to a 40-hour week, but you will lessen the power of the Home Office to resist the demand when the employer asks for a 48-hour week. It is said that he will have to put up 666 a very strong case to show that he cannot manage on 44 hours, whereas if he asks for 48 hours instead of 40 he may be able to put up a case by showing how much harder it is to readjust on the basis of a 40-hour week. That is the formidable argument that we must meet, but in spite of it I prefer to take the risk of 40 hours. I am prepared to be told that it would work out in the immediate future that more young persons would be working 48 hours if we insist on a 40-hour week now than would be the case if we stick to the 44 hours.
There is a good deal to be said for the proposal advanced in Committee that the second step should be postdated. If you get employers accustomed to a 44-hour week you can lead them to a 40-hour week in a few years time. If the Home Secretary tells me that that is a better process I should not resist an offer he might make on those lines. But I would ask the Government that the Bill, in one part or another, should bear on its face what I believe to be the undoubted desire of the majority in the House, that in the future, possibly in the near future, 40 hours shall be the maximum that a youth from 14 to 16 shall be asked to work.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Sir S. Hoare
I hope that nothing that I shall say during any part of our discussions will be out of harmony with the excellent spirit which I know was shown in Committee. Indeed I have felt how very much I have missed in not being present at those deliberations, and during the course of the day I have felt how formidable it is for a new Home Secretary to undertake a task of this kind. Not only has he to deal with the details of this Measure but at one period he has to deal with an attack on the Government's education policy and at another time to take on the duties of Minister of Labour and deal with the general question of hours. Within those limitations I will try to do justice to the points raised in the Debate. First, let me thank hon. Members for the itiendly way in which they have approached these big questions. I say once again that as far as the bigger issues are concerned, those particularly raised by the Amendment, there seem to be much more issues which should be dealt with in a Bill dealing with hours than in a 667 Factories Bill. It seems to me that many of the arguments to which we have listened are a demand for a 40-hour week all round. I do not think any hon. Member will deny that.
I am not going to argue for or against a 40-hour week, or to pre-judge the future. I realise that the world moves quickly, and on no account am I going to take a negative attitude to a proposal of that kind. But, as the Minister who is engaged for the moment in trying to get this enormous Bill on to the Statute Book, I say that the more you introduce big issues of that kind the less likely are you to get the Bill, and the more likely are you to fail in carrying the very substantial improvements which everyone will admit are contained in the provisions of the Bill. It might have been thought from some of the speeches to which we have listened that we were going back, and not forward. If I had time I could point to Clause after Clause in which we are breaking new ground and making very substantial progress. Having made these general observations let me come to the actual Amendment.
If the Amendment was carried it would make a tremendous change in our industrial life. There would undoubtedly be for some time, it may be short or it may be long, a considerable dislocation in industrial conditions. I am anxious to avoid that kind of dislocation, but if we now reduce the hours of 1,500,000 women and i,000,000 young persons under 18 from 48 to 40 we should make a tremendous dislocation in our industrial life. Rightly or wrongly the Government are anxious to avoid that dislocation, and we have felt is necessary to approach this problem more cautiously. As far as women are concerned we do not feel justified on the grounds that are particularly applicable to this Bill—namely, the grounds of health and safety, which are the tests—I am now speaking of social legislation generally—in reducing the hours of women's labour to 40. When I come to young persons I would remind hon. Members that we have made very definite advances upon any proposals which have been put before this House either in draft form or in a Bill. Not only do we reduce the hours of young persons between 14 and i6 to 44 instead of 48, but we have prohibited overtime for any 668 young person, and there are a number of other provisions which very much improve their position. And so in regard to the other class of young persons between i6 and i8 there are several provisions in the Bill which greatly improve their position.
The hon. Member for Leeds Central (Mr. Denman) made an appeal that we should go further and state in the Bill that these hours would be reduced now or sometime later from 44 to 40. Quite sincerely I hate to resist a proposal coming from the hon. Member. He and I were interested in educational questions for many years and worked together for a long time on questions connected with juvenile employment. I know how universally he is regarded as a sympathetic expert in all questions which are covered by the Amendment he has on the Order Paper. None the less, I have to say that I do not feel justified in accepting a reduction to 40 hours. Since the Committee stage we have made further inquiries and we find that in the present conditions this is the furthest to which we can go. It is a substantial improvement. A reduction of four hours will make it much more easy for employers to give young persons a whole day in the week or two half holidays. It is a substantial improvement, and we feel that we cannot go further at the moment.
As to the future I am not going to dogmatise. As I have said, the world moves very quickly and it may be that we shall be able to have a better standard in the comparatively near future. I do not take the view that provisions of this kind are introduced and accepted every 30 years only. It may well be that a great codification of factory legislation of this kind comes only once in a generation, but I do not take the view that there may not be many amending Acts regarding specific parts of a Bill of this kind at much earlier dates. It may well be that we shall be amending this Bill, when it is an Act, upon the lines suggested by the hon. Member, much sooner than many of us think. I am afraid that having gone as far as that, I do not feel justified in accepting either this Amendment or the Amendment which is on the Paper later on in the name of my hon. Friend.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Smith
I regret the speech to which we have just listened. It may be 669 true that in the Standing Committee there was the best possible spirit between the two sides, but I have not seen that spirit reflected in the Amendments which the Home Secretary has accepted. I would like to deal with one or two of the points made by the right hon. Gentleman. He said that if this Amendment were passed, it would cause great industrial dislocation. He used the argument that never is the time ripe for making more generous legislation. The right hon. Gentleman prides himself that most of the social legislation in this country has come from the Conservative party. It is true that one man stood out in the nineteenth century by working for a Factories Act, but he got it through largely in opposition to Members of the Conservative party. I am speaking of Shaftesbury, who, if it were possible for him to be back to-day, would regret the slowness of the progress which we have made, having regard to the wording of Clause 69. What does the Clause mean? It provides that there shall not be more than 48 hours a week for young persons and women, exclusive of meal times, and it means that women and young persons will be away from their homes in many cases for nearly 12 hours a day. There will be eight hours' work a day, if a week of 48 hours be divided by six, exclusive of meal times, and that eight hours may be worked within II hours. With regard to the speech of the right hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major Hills), I may tell him that there arc occasions when he makes very interesting speeches, which as a rule contribute to the Debates. Earlier in the evening he made an excellent speech in the controversy about children being employed under the age of 15, but the speech which he made on this Clause was about the most reactionary that I have ever heard from him.
On this Amendment I said that I objected to the differentiation between women and men, which I do not believe to be in the women's interest. On the question of young persons, my opinion is different, and will be shown by my vote.
§ Mr. Smith
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman's remarks do not destroy my statement. I say frankly that the first speech he made was one which suggested a progressive mind, but the speech he made on this Amendment shows how 670 reactionary he is. He said that he objected to limiting the hours of work of women by Statute.
§ Mr. Smith
Who are the women who go to work? There is not an hon. Member in the House, including the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, who would like to see his wife working in a factory for 48 hours or more a week. These women are working women, many of them being married, but having to go to work on account of the poverty of the household. To talk about limiting the hours to 48 is altogether contrary to the spirit of the age. There are two main arguments in favour of a reduction of hours, one of them economic and the other social. The economic argument is that we live in a mechanical age, that we have 1,500,000 people out of work, and that if hours of labour were reduced, more persons could be absorbed into industry. The social argument is that this age is demanding more leisure, and rightly so. Twenty or 30 years ago the conditions for men and women were long hours, hard labour, low pay and constant poverty, and women standing over the washtub. We have got away from those conditions, and we ought now to have a 40-hour week.
There is another point that I would like to put to the right hon. Gentleman. Soon we shall be more backward than any of the Dominions on this question of hours. The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) gave the figures regarding foreign countries. France has. a 40-hour week. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for West Birkenhead (Colonel Sandeman Allen) asked whether the hon. Member would like to see the financial situation in this country the same as it is in France. I will give the hon. and gallant Gentleman a better example. I have seen the 40-hour week in operation in New Zealand, not merely for young persons and women, but for men. Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman say that there is a financial crisis in New Zealand? What is good enough for the Dominions ought to be good enough for this country.
Colonel Sandeman Allen
If the hon. Gentleman is satisfied with the finances of New Zealand, I am not.
§ Mr. Smith
There are secondary industries as well as primary industries, and let me say in reply to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that in this country the men in the agricultural industry are the worst off, both with regard to wages and hours. New Zealand has secondary industries as well as primary industries. I discussed this matter with employers as well as with representatives of labour and trade unionists, and the employers were satisfied. They had had the same fears that if the 40-hour week were put into operation, it would ruin industry. That is a fear which has been expressed in this House for the last 60 or 80 years. I have read the history of the 19th century very carefully. When the first Workmen's Compensation Act was introduced, the man who was managing director of the colliery where I worked was the man who, on the Benches opposite, said that if it were passed it would ruin the mining industry, destroy every friendly society, penalise thrifty people and bring industry down. That was a measure of workmen's compensation which gave a maximum of r a week. In spite of all those predictions, our social legislation has been improved, and industry has not been ruined. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary and to the Under-Secretary not to be nervous in these matters, not to talk so much about making progress slowly, but to catch up with the spirit of the age, to accept this Amendment and to say that in this country no woman and no young person shall work more than 40 hours a week.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Higgs
I speak on this subject because I consider that I have had as much factory experience as any other hon. Member in this House. I have heard references in this discussion to France, Finland, the Irish Free State and the United States. No one would suggest that France is a manufacturing country that can compete effectively overseas. Finland and the Irish Free State I do not consider worthy of discussion. 672 [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] With regard to the United States, I was there within the last 12 months and while a 40-hour week may be the law, it is not being carried out there. And hon. Member opposite referred to New Zealand. New Zealand is an agricultural country with a population which is little more than the population of Birmingham. It is not an industrial country. The only commodities which this country has to export are coal and the products of labour and we have to work efficiently in order to live and to purchase from overseas the food which we require. Italy has not been mentioned in this discussion. Italy had a 40-hour week and has had to go back again to the 48-hour week.
My experience is that the 40-hour week is not wanted by women working in factories. They want the work and they want the money. If hon. Members propose to reduce the hours of labour by eight per week, are they going to increase the rate of pay? I am not a slave driver. I wish to see everybody get a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and the average worker is willing and anxious to give a fair day's work for a fair day's pay and does not want these reduced hours. This question of a 40-hour week for women came up during my election and I said emphatically that I was not in favour of it. I believe the majority of women workers do not want it. What will be the position from the employer's point of view, if we reduce the hours to 40 per week. We are now in a position to work two five-hour stretches, which comes out at about 54 hours a week. This proposal would reduce the number of working hours by, approximately, 25 per cent. It is an impracticable proposition for firms which employ a large amount of female labour. Hours could not be reduced to that extent without considerably increasing the cost of production.
I think we all agree that in this country we have to export in order to live. If we continue to increase our export prices, then our last state will be worse than our first, for the workers as well as for everybody else. I would refer hon. Members to the case of industries employing large numbers of both male and female workers which are not capable of working for stock. Unfortunately, customers are not in the habit of sending in their orders to suit the convenience of the employer 673 and the employé. They send in their orders when it suits them to do so and firms of the kind to which I refer are sometimes busy and sometimes slack. Fluctuation of hours is absolutely necessary for efficient production. It is possible, at present, to vary the hours from about 35 per week to about 54 per week which adds considerably to efficiency in production. I do not say that to limit that fluctuation to any considerable extent would be the end of industry, but I do say that it would be detrimental to industry, and it would not have the benefits which advocates of reduced hours think it would have, because there would be greater unemployment. There would be greater fluctuations in trade. We have to try to level out these rises and falls in trade, and the only way in which it can be done is by having a certain amount of flexibility. I am not one of those who advocate more leisure. I would advocate more work. It was not the application of leisure which made the British nation what it is to-day. It was leadership and hard work. These statements can all be recorded against me at the next election but I am not afraid to state the facts in front of my electors.
§ Mr. Higgs
It: is not the practice to pay off. It is the practice in those cases to reduce hours. Possibly, instead of starting at 7.30 a.m. and working until 6.30 p.m., with a one-hour break, they work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or something of that sort. It is far better to do that than to turn skilled workers out and to be unable to get them when they are wanted again. I submit that this reduction would be bad for the workers and bad for the factories, and that the fluctuation in hours is necessary to many industries. I am sorry that this Amendment has been put forward and pressed with such force and that it has been supported by some hon. Members on this side of the House. I oppose it, because I think that proposals of that type are bad for industry, bad for the country and bad for the individuals concerned.
§ 9.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen
I support the Amendment. The arguments of the last speaker did not impress me. They are typical of the arguments which have been used for a century past against proposals of this kind, and experience has shown that reduction of hours has never led to the consequences which prophets like the hon. Member have foretold. The hon. Member also said that Britain became a great country as the result of leadership and hard work. I cannot accept that view. I would be inclined to say that exploitation and hard work imposed upon others, possibly did contribute to the wealth of some people in Britain, but I put it to the House that Members ought to look at this question, having in mind what they would like for themselves and their own families. I do not think the hon. Member would like to have his own daughter working for 48 hours a week in a factory and I believe that we ought to apply the same rules to others than we are willing to have applied to ourselves and our dependants. There was one thing, however, in the hon. Member's speech with which I did agree. He said that the women workers wanted the money. Certainly they want the money. They want the same money for the shorter week that they are getting for the longer week and if they do not get the same money for it, they will get no real concession. The amount of money that they are getting for the longer week is such a small amount that it is practically all that enables them to carry on at all, and I think a very strong case indeed is made out for a 40-hour week for the women of this country.
I want to Say a word or two from the point of view of the young people. I have never had factory experience. I regard myself as being fortunate in that respect, more fortunate than some of my fellow workers, but I have had some experience in connection with this question, because before I came into this House I had experience in two professions. I had experience as a minister in a small industrial town, and then I had experience as a teacher, and one of the reasons why I left my first professional vocation was the position of children under the present régime. In my own congregation, in the town in which I lived, I was greatly distressed at the way in which children were being denied the opportunities that they 675 ought to have had, and it drove me into the more active field of politics. But I also had experience as a teacher. I was teaching in the evening schools, and it was no unfamiliar experience for me to find members of my class falling asleep over their exercises during the evening. [Laughter.] Some Members may think that that was due to the fact that I was not a sufficiently inspiring teacher. I was not teaching the most inspiring of subjects—I was teaching mathematics—but they fell asleep when they were answering problems with their exercise books before them, and not when I was addressing them. They had been working during the day and had come there in the evening, and owing to their state of nutrition and general circumstances they were not in a position freely to take advantage of the educational course that the education authority provided for them. It appears to me that the Government would be very well advised to take some little courage in dealing with this question. The argument is always advanced that if you do this, if you progress too quickly in this way, the result will be that industry will find it impossible to adapt itself to the new conditions. Seriously, is the industry of this great country going to find itself in such tremendous difficulties if there is imposed by Statute a 40-hour week for young people and women in industry?
There is another side to this question that has always interested me. I think the House is bound to give decent protection to the most decent employers in the country, and there are employers' representatives on the other side of the House who are anxious that this Amendment should be put on the Statute Book. They know that it can be done, and yet far too much consideration is always given to the difficulties that are being made by the worst employers. I would like to see the Home Office a little more enlightened in this respect. From all quarters of the House there comes the demand for the improvement of social legislation, and I remember that one great Conservative in the nineteenth century was the greatest figure for the time being in this country in connection with proposals for social legislation, but always, instead of the Home Office and the Government of the day playing up to the good employers, they have been so concerned about the rotten emplcyers that they have put the 676 good employers in an inferior position as compared with the worst employers. From my own experience in connection with young people, I would press upon the Government to accept this Amendment.
One other aspect of the question to which I want to refer is the feeling in the country that something has to be done to improve the general physique of the nation. Millions of pounds are to be spent on physical culture, and there is the expectation that something is to be done in a very real sense in order to improve the physique of the young generation of this country. Is the Under-Secretary going to say that this physical training is to take place after the 48 hours' work has been carried through during the week? I was just calculating that if we sit here from 2.45 till II p.m., we have eight hours per day, for four days a week, or 32 hours in all, and then we have a short day on Friday. If you think that is enough for legislators, why do you expect that poor little boys and girls should have to work for 48 hours? Why should a vigorous young fellow like the Under-Secretary, sitting on the Treasury Bench, want to impose 48 hours on people who are so much younger and less capable of physical effort than himself? If its programme with regard to the improvement of the physique of the new generation is going to be really effective, I hope the Government will also show that it has a certain amount of courage to face complaints that may come in from rotten employers in the country and that it will support the good employers by making the working week 40 hours for women and young people.
§ 9.25 p.m.
I also very much regret the speech which was made by my right hon. Friend. Having listened to a good deal of the Debate on the Amendments to this Bill, I have always thought that the Amendments which he has resisted have been resisted on extremely sound grounds, and therefore I have been able to support his resistance of these Amendments right through the Report stage of the Bill. But on this particular Amendment, as I understand it, he has directed his whole attention to what he termed the dislocation of industry if either of the Amendments which are under discussion were accepted. 677 I am in some little difficulty, because I have no practical experience of hours of work or factory legislation, and one has to try to come to one's conclusions on the evidence in one's possession. I can quite well imagine that my right hon. Friend might have found a good many arguments which would appeal to me, but on this particular one, dislocation of industry, I search round for some kind of example to which I can give due consideration, and my mind goes back some years to the fight which took place over the reduction of hours of work in the mining industry.
I can very well remember at the period when the Socialist Government came into office and they reduced the hours of work in the mining industry from eight hours to 7½, all the statements that were made with regard to the effect that that would have on the mining industry. I do not very often throw bouquets to my Socialist opponents; I mostly disagree with them. But we have got to the stage of politics in this country, thank goodness, when we are able to say when our opponents are right in the same way that we often say that they are wrong. I remember the predictions that were made in regard to the mining industry, the difficulties that were going to accrue to the export trade. The same argument as was used to-night was brought up, that there would have to be a reduction of wages. Incidentally, hours in the mining industry are regulated without a general Bill dealing with hours generally, so that I cannot see any reason why in a factory Bill we cannot do something about hours in factories.
All the predictions made in regard to the mining industry proved wrong. It is true that the mining industry has gone through a bad period, but we are now in a much better state than we were owing to the action of the National Government in assisting reorganisaion. My hon. Friends on the Opposition Benches will not agree with that, but they have got to accept the present position that there is more work in the mining industry, that we are having a better time that in the past, that we quite recently had an increase in wages and that on the whole we are better off than we were five years ago. With all the troubles that have fallen on the mining industry, I have never heard it put forward by the Mines Department that they were in any way due to the fact that the hours of work were reduced from eight to 7½ a day.
678 I am disappointed that my right hon. Friend based his whole argument against these Amendments on dislocation of industry. I cannot accept that—I say it with great deference—as an argument against the Amendments. I should say it quite forcibly in regard to women, but I should say it even more forcibly in regard to the hours of work for juveniles. Though one has a great admiration for the youth of this country and the plucky way some of these young people go out into life and do their jobs to the best of their ability, I do not think that it can honestly be argued that in any industry the reduction of hours of young people between 14 and 16 years old is likely to produce dislocation. Much as I regret it, because I have been very impressed with the resistance to other Amendments and dislike having to disagree with my own party, I think that on this matter we might have expected more from the Home Office, and I very much regret that we have not got what we had hoped for.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ Mr. McEntee
It has been said thatMan's inhumanity to manMakes countless thousands mournand that was brought home to my mind by the speech which I heard delivered by the hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Higgs). I thought when he was speaking that had a record been made of speeches which were made in this House in the early days of my lifetime, it would have been just as effective as the speech which the hon. Member delivered to-day. Everything which he said has been said against all attempts at social legislation during my lifetime and probably for many years before, and every prediction that he made has been falsified in the past and will be falsified in the future. I added to the quotation which I gave earlier by writing on the paper, "And women's lack of sympathy with women makes even men stand wondering," and I was wondering whether any woman in this House was going to make any plea for women. Let me compliment the hon. Lady who has just sat down on having done it. The amazing thing to me is that all the women in the House are not here to say something on behalf of those sisters of theirs who are sentenced for life to work in some of the factories which I at any rate know.
§ Miss Horsbrugh
I think that in the Standing Committee over and over again I expressed the opinion that it would be far better for women if we could get industry reorganised under two categories, adult workers and juveniles.
§ Mr. McEntee
That may be so, but it does not take anything from what I have said. The hon. Lady no doubt has no experience of factory life and it is because she and others have not that experience that they lack the sympathy which they ought to have. At any rate I know factory life. I commenced as a very young boy in factories and I have worked the greater part of my life in them. I have worked Go hours a week and I remember the agitation which was conducted by all the: employers against a reduction to 54. I remember the agitation against a reduction to 50 hours. I remember the agitation against a reduction to 44 in the industry in which I was engaged. I listened on all those occasions to speeches which were similar to those I have listened to from the reactionary Members of this House to-day.
Those evils which they predicted did not occur, and the evils that are predicted to-day will not occur if the Amendment is carried. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has thought fit to refuse to grant the concession asked for in either of the Amendments. I am interested in both of them, but I am naturally most interested in that which has the widest application and has been moved from this side of the House. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), in his speech on another Amendment earlier, referred to three things by which he thought unemployment could be reduced. One was the proposal we are discussing now—shorter hours of labour. Speeches have been made from time to time by all those hon. Members who do make speeches—some never make speeches and never do anything else in connection with the House—in which they profess to be in favour of doing something to reduce unemployment. Here is an opportunity.
Nobody would deny that there are a great number of women out of employment, and that if the concession asked for in the Amendment were granted it would add considerably to the opportunities for the employment of women. If the Government are sincere in the statements they make from time to time, and 680 if their supporters are sincere in the statements they make in the country, they ought to support the Amendment. I suppose it is because I am getting on in years that I have a desire to keep young in ideas, to keep abreast of the ideas of people who are progressively minded. Every organisation in the country and every progressively-minded person has been advocating the reduction in the hours of labour for a long time.
The Home Secretary based the whole of his arguments against this proposal on the dislocation of industry. The dislocation of what industry? Can it be argued that the Amendment would dislocate all industries? All the evidence is on the other side because in the best factories where the principle of the Amendment has been adopted it has caused no dislocation. On the contrary, we have the statements made from time to time by the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) and others that where the reduction of hours has taken place the result has been the opposite to that which has been stated by the Home Secretary. In view of that, I was astounded to hear him say that industry would be dislocated if the Amendment were carried. Again, his speech might well have been a gramophone record of the speeches of those who spoke from the Front Bench 50 or Too years ago. He has made very little progress in ideas. It appears that we are to get nothing from the Government, but it is pleasant to know that, even though we may not have the support of the majority on the other side, there are at least one or two supporters of the Government who will come into the Lobby with us.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Rickards
I have been in the textile trade all my life, in the dyeing, weaving and spinning sides, and I wonder whether hon. Gentlemen opposite realise what it will mean if this Amendment is passed. In the cotton trade in Lancashire, for instance, men and women work side by side doing the same work and receiving the same pay. Frequently the women may be making more. If the Amendment were adopted the women, instead of working 48 hours, would be allowed to work only 40. Would hon. Members by law reduce the women's wages by roughly 16 per cent.? If they did, tire women in Lancashire would have a lot to say about it. On the contrary, 681 if we put their wages up, as hon. Gentlemen opposite would like, and as I would like if the industry could afford it, we would have to put them up by about 16 per cent. The men working next to them doing the same work would never stand for that. It would be most unreasonable and unfair. The consequence is, whether hon. Gentlemen opposite realise it or not, that they are simply asking for a rise in wages in the cotton industry by 16 per cent. I wish it could be paid. Nearly 75 per cent. of the textile trade in Lancashire has been lost because of low wages in the East. I should like to see wages as high as possible, but nobody can honestly say that wages in Lancashire could be advanced 16 per cent. without losing trade in the East which Lancashire wants very badly.
§ 9.44 P.m.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I am under the impression that the House wants to come to a decision fairly soon, because we have had the issue plainly stated on various sides of the House. The House will not expect me to go over the same ground as my right hon. Friend covered earlier, or to cover the general argument with regard to women. I would, however, say a word on wages. I do not quite take the view of the hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Rickards) although I see his point. What I wish to put is that this Amendment would be a provision for reducing the hours, but there is no proposal for dealing with the consequent difficulty which would arise in regard to wages. There would unquestionably be a difficulty. The question of wages would arise, and we cannot deal with that in this Bill. I think there would be a good many women in the country who would not thank this House for taking such a step, having regard to the difficulty they might experience in maintaining the same wage rates after the statutory reduction in hours had taken place, bearing in mind, as hon. Members opposite will know better than even I do, that trade union organisation among women is not particularly strong.
Let me pass from that to the point raised by the hon. Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward) regarding industrial dislocation. She said very disarmingly that she was not at all familiar with the subject, and asked how there could possibly be industrial dislocation caused by a reduction of the hours of young persons alone. There will in any case be a great deal 682 of industrial re-organisation as a result of the very great reduction of hours for young persons produced by the original proposals in the Bill. In some cases they were working 600 or 700 hours of overtime in the year, under the very broad margins of the old Act of Igor. All that goes. We know that as far as young persons under 16 are concerned there is no overtime; and since the Bill was originally brought in there has been the further reduction to 44 hours. We had to go very carefully into the possible disorganisation of industry when we were considering whether it would be possible to make that concession. Undoubtedly there will be considerable difficulty where there is team work, where a number of workers are working together and each one's work is inter-dependent on the work of the other. In many industries juveniles take a prominent part in that work. In Standing Committee I mentioned a case reported to the Home Office where a spinner's output had been decreased by 20 per cent. in a week as a result of the absence of his little piecer. I think, therefore, the hon. Lady will realise that there might be disorganisation.
§ Mr. Lloyd
It was pointed out in Committee that that was very rare. I will conclude by drawing attention to what my right hon. Friend said with regard to the question of amending legislation. Do not let us have in mind the idea that this question, particularly as regards juveniles, is fixed for all time, or for 30 or 40 years, simply because this Factories Bill has only come up at that long interval after the last one. Even if I cannot give the undertaking which the hon. Lady would like, I would point out that helpful feature in the speech of my right hon. Friend; and after the long discussion we have had I would suggest to tae House that we might, perhaps, soon come to a decision.
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ Mr. J. J. Davidson
I intervene because of statements made from the other side of the House. We on this side were asked if we really understood what this proposal, this giving of leisure to a number of workers, would mean. I 683 would ask the hon. Member who put that question whether he and his friends on that side realise the very great importance of good will and physical health in industry. The object of our Amendment is to give the workers more leisure in order that they can enjoy life and make themselves more fit as human beings to undertake their industrial tasks. I say frankly that I did not expect the Home Secretary to accept this Amendment. He belongs, as I think I can say without any disrespect, to those whom we term "the elder statesmen." He belongs to an age which has been very well represented by the arguments of hon. Members opposite. But in view of many recent articles in the Press demanding that youth should be at the helm, we might have expected something better from the Under-Secretary; and I m now led to the opinion that we shall have to scrap both the elder statesmen and the younger statesmen, and call for middle age to be at the helm.
New Zealand was referred to several times, and one hon. Member said that New Zealand was not an industrial country, but if hon. Members care to examine the international trade figures they will see that New Zealand, since the introduction of the 40-hour week, has been able to compete internationally more effectually than she did before. When hon. Members say that countries which have introduced this type of legislation cannot he called our industrial rivals, I would ask the Home Secretary to state who are the industrial rivals of Britain to-day with conditions for their own workpeople which give them an advantage over the British workpeople? Hon. Members opposite have said that this reform would dislocate industry, and the hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Higgs) said that if it did not dislocate it would at least be detrimental to industry. I would like to refute those views by reading an excerpt from an article by a well-known Member on the Government benches:As a matter of historical fact, the production in the shortened day has very speedily, if not immediately, after the change come up to old standards and has surpassed them, especially where the efficiency of labour depends on its tools. This has been seen in Lancashire after each shortening of the working day. With every improvement in machinery the shorter working day becomes more and more practicable.684 The initials below that article are "J. R. M." The article was written by the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. J. Ramsay MacDonald), who is a Member on the Government Benches. I ask hon. Members who have the conviction of their speeches, and those who believe that Britain should not be at the heels of other countries but should lead other countries industrially, to support this Amendment, and to give the working classes the better conditions for which the Labour party are asking. Many of my hon. Friends here believe that the Government majority will defeat us, but let them know this—that we shall be able to go to the country and tell the people that this Bill has only been brought forward at this late stage as a result of the efforts of the progressive forces in this country—
§ Mr. Davidson
—and that the continual refusal of the Government to accept Amendments shows them in their true light politically.
§ 9.55 P.m.
§ Mr. David Adams rose—
I see no particular reason why, because of demands to divide, we should oblige the Government in this matter. I fail to observe any particular anxiety on their part to meet what we believe to be a serious and necessary Amendment of this Measure. I heartily support the Amendment because of my considerable experience of factory life. The arguments for the Amendment are based upon the demands of the scientific age in which we live. If production had not become so intense as it is, much of the argument in favour of a reduction of hours in factories and workshops could not be sustained.
In an engineering paper I see a comparison between a modern factory and a factory of 10 years ago, with regard to the machines. This description should give hon. Members a close and intimate idea of the intensity of machine production to-day. The article states:Accuracy of these machines is as great as that found a decade ago only in the laboratories, in gauges and precision instruments. Idle time of return movement of tools has 685 been reduced, this doubling output in some instances. Spindle speed has been greatly increased in metal working machines using high-speed cutting tools. Automatic measuring and sizing devices are built into machine tools to-day, to ensure accuracy of product.If we add to that precision the intensified supervision which is observable in all factories, so that spare time has entirely disappeared so far as the workers are concerned, we have a situation in which the maximum amount of energy is taken from the worker, leaving him in a state of relative exhaustion, in many cases, at the end of the day's work.
The Amalgamated Engineering Union, with which I am associated, has given an admirable lead to the country in this respect. It is an association of 300,000 members. After a most detailed examination, extending for some months, as to the situation in industrial factory life to-day, the union demand that the hours of the engineers should be reduced to 40 per week. The grounds of that demand, which is a demand on the part of the men for the men and not for the young persons and women, are that, in the intensified production of to-day, they are determined to share some of the advances which science has placed at the disposal of the employing classes, and which admit in this age of more leisure for the worker. They say that factory life to-day is not conducive to good health, and the continuous breakdown in the health of the
§ worker Indicates that educational advantages for the apprentices are only possible to-day where mental and physical weariness are absent. We are told that the prime necessity is the preservation of the health of the community, increased efficiency and, of course, increased safety against accidents. When there is an enormous increase in accidents to young persons in factories and workshops, rising, as it has, from 3 per cent. in 1928 to 22 per cent. in 1935, there is a powerful argument in favour of the reduction of hours that we seek.
§ I would end by stating that what is probably the greatest industrial nation on earth to-day, Russia, in which larger numbers are employed in industry than elsewhere upon this planet, has thought fit to restrict the hours of adults to 35 per week, and of young persons between the ages of 16 and 18 to 30 per week. We there have an illustration of the recent reduction of hours. It is our duty on this side of the House to put forward any arguments that we have at our disposal so that it shall not be said that we have failed to place upon the records of the House a statement of the case in favour of the reduction which we seek.
§ Question put, "That the word 'forty-eight' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 195; Noes, 128.687
|Division No. 228.]||AYES.||[10.3 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. M. (Edgb't'n)||Entwistle, Sir C. F.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Channon, H.||Errington, E.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Christie, J. A.||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Everard, W. L.|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Colfox, Major W. P.||Fildes, Sir H.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Fremantle, Sir F. E.|
|Apsley, Lord||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Furness, S. N.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Cox, H. B. T.||Fyfe, D. P. M.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Craven-Ellis, W.||Ganzoni, Sir J.|
|Balniel, Lord||Crooke, J. S.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Gluckstein, L. H.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Gower, Sir R. V.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Cross, R. H.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Cruddas, Col. B.||Gridley, Sir A. B.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Culverwell, C. T.||Grimston, R. V.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N.||Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Bossom, A. C.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Guinness, T. L. E. B.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Donner, P. W.||Gunston, Capt. D. W.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H.||Guy, J. C. M.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Dower, Major A. V. G.||Hannah, I. C.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Dugdale, Major T. L.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Duggan, H. J.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Bull, B. B.||Eastwood, J. F.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Eckersley, P. T.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Higgs, W. F.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Ellis, Sir G.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)|
|Cary, R. A.||Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Emery, J. F.||Holmes, J. S.|
|Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Spens, W. P.|
|Hurd, Sir P. A.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'ld)|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Patrick, C. M.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Keeling, E. H.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark N.)|
|Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Latham, Sir P.||Porritt, R. W.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)||Radford, E. A.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Leckie, J. A.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Taylor, Vice-Adm, E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Ramsbotham, H.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Lewis, O.||Ramsden, Sir E.||Touche, G. C.|
|Lindsay, K. M.||Rankin, Sir R.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Little, Sir E. Graham-||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Rayner, Major R. H.||Turton, R. H.|
|Lloyd, G. W.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Lyons, A. M.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Remer, J. R.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Watt, G. S. H.|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Wayland, Sir W. A|
|McKie, J. H.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Wells, S. R.|
|Maitland, A.||Rowlands, G.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Russell, Sir Alexander||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Markham, S. F.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Salt, E. W.||Wise, A. R.|
|Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Samuel, M. R. A.||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Wragg, H.|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)||Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.|
|Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Munro, P.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward|
|and Major Sir George Davies.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Parker, J.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Harris, Sir P. A.||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Price, M. P.|
|Amnion, C. G.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Barnes, A. J.||Hollins, A.||Ridley, G.|
|Barr, J.||Hopkin, D.||Riley, B.|
|Batey, J.||Jagger, J.||Ritson, J.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Bevan, A.||Kelly, W. T.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Broad, F. A.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Bromfield, W.||Kirby, B. V.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J, (S. Ayrshire)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Shinwell, E.|
|Buchanan, G.||Lathan, G.||Short, A.|
|Burke, W. A.||Lawson, J. J.||Silkin, L.|
|Cape, T.||Leach, W.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Chater, D.||Lee, F.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Leonard, W.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Leslie, J. R.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Logan, D. G.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Stephen, C.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Lunn, W.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Daggar, G.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Dalton, H.||McEntee, V. La T.||Thurtle, E.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||McGhee, H. G.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||McGovern, J.||Viant, S. P.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||MacLaren, A.||Walker, J.|
|Dobbie, W.||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Ede, J. C.||Mander, G. le M.||Westwood, J.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Marshall, F.||White, H. Graham|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Maxton, J.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Frankel, D.||Messer, F.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Gardner, B. W.||Milner, Major J.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Montague, F.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Naylor, T. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Oliver, G. H.||Mr. Charleton and Mr. Mathers.|
|Groves, T. E.||Paling, W.|
§ 10.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I beg to move, in page 56, line 32, after "than," to insert:six o'clock in the evening in the case of young persons who have not attained the age of sixteen, or in other cases.I am glad to be moving a non-controversial Amendment, which I think the whole House will accept. In the Standing Committee there was a discussion of considerable length on the question of stopping time, and at the end of the discussion we gave an undertaking that we would consider whether the statutory stopping time for young persons between the ages of 14 and 16 could not be earlier than eight o'clock. Since then we have considered the matter at the Home Office, and find that, as far as the great industries are concerned, there is really no objection. It may necessitate a certain amount of reorganisation in some workshops in London, but we do not feel that that is a sufficient reason to prevent us from bringing in this reform.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 10.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I beg to move, in page 57, line 5, at the end, to insert:except that the period of employment may end at an earlier hour for young persons who have not attained the age of sixteen.This Amendment is purely consequential on the proposal to reduce the hours from 48 to 44. It is necessary that the period of employment of all young persons should be the same.
§ Amendment agreed to.