HC Deb 30 July 1959 vol 610 cc666-7
29 and 30. Dr. King

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many local education authorities forbid the employment of children under the age of 15 years on school days;

(2) how many local education authorities permit children under the age of 15 years to engage in paid employment before going to school in the morning.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith)

No local education authority has prohibited altogether the employment of children under 15 on school days, and it appears doubtful whether a local education authority has power to do so; 116 authorities allow employment for not more than one hour before school.

Dr. King

Is the hon. Lady aware that not a single public schoolboy or independent schoolboy or a child of a Member of this House goes out selling newspapers before he starts the arduous day's work in school? Does not the Under-Secretary agree that it would be very much in the interests of equality of opportunity, for which the Home Secretary did so much in the 1944 Act, if we prevented children under 15 years of age from going out delivering newspapers before going to school?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

Under Section 18 of the Act this matter is left to the local authorities. Before putting bye-laws before my right hon. Friend, they have to consider very carefully, and we have the duty to see that they have considered carefully, any objections that may have been made to their proposals. Generally speaking, I think the local authorities can be trusted to deal with this matter sensibly; and, if I may say so, I think the hon. Member is making rather a sweeping assertion when he claims that no child from the schools that he has mentioned ever undertakes a certain amount of this hourly employment.

Mr. H. A. Price

Is my hon. Friend aware that while it may be true that no children of hon. Members do this work, many hon. Members did so when they were children and they do not seem to be any the worse for it?