§ 1. Mr. Hale
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that a large number of employment agreements made under the Resident Labourers' Ordinance of 1937 are not completed in accordance with the provisions of the Ordinance; and what steps he proposes to take for the protection of resident labourers in Kenya.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)
All such agreements must be attested by a magistrate or attesting officer, who may reject any contract which, in his opinion, may lead to a breach of the Ordinance, and I have no information that any have in fact been made which infringe its provisions.
§ 2. Mr. Hale
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that in a number of employment agreements in Kenya, purporting to be made under the Resident Labourers' Ordinance, 1937, there are added the words, "Women and children shall pick pyrethrum when required at 1 cent a lb."; how far under the Ordinance it is lawful to demand the services of the wife and children when required to work in addition to the resident labourer; what is the minimum age 356 for employment of children; and what steps he proposes to take.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I understand that there are no current contracts stipulating a rate of 1 cent per lb. and that the current rate for pyrethrum picking is 4 to 5 cents per lb. Labourers' wives and children commonly do work for the employer, their rates of wages being protected by specification in the labourer's contract. There is no legally enforceable commitment for them to work for their employer. There is no minimum age for the employment of children in agriculture when in the company of their parents.
§ Mr. Hale
I am much obliged and am grateful for the penultimate assurance given in that answer. I will supply the right hon. Gentleman with contracts. Will he bear in mind that as there are 100 cents to the ls., that means about Is. 3d. per cwt., and that this clause is in current contracts in my possession, "Women and children shall pick pyrethrum when required at 1 cent per lb."?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I shall be glad to look at any communications sent to me by the hon. Member. I should mention that the employment of children, when living away from home, is controlled.