HC Deb 15 December 1938 vol 342 cc2178-9
73. Mr. Kirby

asked the Home Secretary whether he is considering the introduction at an early date of legislation to improve and regulate working conditions in offices, such legislation to cover cubic air-space, ventilation, fire escapes, rest and dining rooms, and adequate protection for office population against air attack in time of war?

Sir S. Hoare

Overcrowding and ventilation of offices are already dealt with in the Public Health Acts, and special steps were taken in the Public Health Act, 1936, and the Public Health (London) Act, 1936, to make it clear that "workplaces" include all places of clerical employment and that authorised officers of local authorities have a right to enter any offices for the purpose of ascertaining the conditions in regard to overcrowding and ventilation. The Public Health and London Building Acts also deal with means of escape in case of fire from new or extended buildings, and I have no information at present to show that the application of any further general requirements to offices is really necessary in this regard or in regard to rest and dining rooms. The protection against air attack of persons employed in offices is part of the general problem of the protection of the civil population which is under review by my right hon. Friend, the Lord Privy Seal.

Mr. Kirby

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that hundreds of thousands of clerical workers are not satisfied that the Public Health Act applies properly as regards the regulation of office conditions, and, further, that in the case of cities like London, Liverpool, Manchester, and so on, there is no provision made with regard to air-raid precautions for those employed in big offices, stores, and so on?

Sir S. Hoare

So far as air-raid precautions are concerned, the Lord Privy Seal is considering the whole of this question, whether in London or in any other great city. As regards the hon. Member's first supplementary question, my information does not go to show that that is the case.