HC Deb 02 May 1967 vol 746 cc296-7
26 and 39. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs (1) in view of the undertakings given by Her Majesty's Government that the Government of Hong Kong would introduce legislation to reduce the hours of work for women and children employed in the textile industry from 60 hours to 48 hours per week and the fact that these undertakings, have not yet been implemented, what steps he now proposes to take;

(2) whether he will report his progress in achieving a reduction of the hours worked per week by women and children in the textile mills of Hong Kong.

Mrs. Hart

Proposals for amending legislation covering this in part have already been before the Executive Council and will be considered by the Labour Advisory Board on 11th May. If I may, I will write to my hon. Friend with the somewhat complicated details of this legislation.

Mr. Rankin

Is my hon. Friend aware that, since I raised this matter last, protests have come from the textile unions concerned and that they are very agitated about the conditions in Hong Kong? In view of the widespread protests—indeed, world protests—that are being made about this matter, will she make speed the essence of action in this case?

Mrs. Hart

The essential point to remember is that legislation is now on its way; and I am confident that the necessary stages will be gone through as speedily as the procedures permit. It is a fact that an eight-hour working day for women and young persons is already being worked by more than 70 per cent. of people in the cotton weaving industry and by 100 per cent. of people working in the spinning industry.

Mr. A. Royle

Is the Minister aware that the continued criticism of a number of people and of the Government of Hong Kong by hon. Gentlemen opposite is causing grave concern to the Colony? Will she confirm that working conditions in the Colony of Hong Kong are better than those in practically any other Far Eastern country?

Mrs. Hart

There are, of course, different ways of looking at this. One can look at it in comparison with other countries of the Far East or in comparison with international standards generally. I am concerned to see that there should now be some steps taken by legislation; and I am glad to report that these are now beginning.