HC Deb 16 May 1938 vol 336 cc25-6
50. Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he will take immediate steps to abolish the employment of children in industry and agriculture in the British Colonies; and what steps are being taken to raise the age from 10 in Kenya, from 12 in Uganda and Northern Rhodesia to 14?

Mr. M. MacDonald

No, Sir. My Noble Friend is satisfied that in those Dependencies where the age limits permitted by law or custom for the employment of children are lower than those prescribed in the respective International Labour Conventions, the lower age is justified by local circumstances. The second part of the question does not, therefore, arise.

Mr. Creech Jones

Are we to understand that, in the discussions which are shortly to take place at Geneva, on the making of a new International Labour Convention, the policy of the Government will be the maintenance of employment for children at the age of 10 in Kenya, and the age of 12 in Northern Rhodesia and Uganda? What will be the policy of the Government in respect of that matter?

Mr. MacDonald

I would point out that in the case of industrial employment in Kenya the minimum age is not 10 years but 12, and it has always been customary in the discussions at Geneva to permit of exceptions in cases where local circumstances would justify them.

Mr. Creech Jones

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the age has recently been reduced from 12 in Kenya?

Mr. Macquisten

In the semi-tropical countries, does not physical and mental development occur very much quicker?