HL Deb 23 July 1891 vol 356 cc65-87

Amendments reported (according to order).


I would ask the noble Lord to be good enough to take the sub-sections of the now clause he proposes to bring up separately. It will greatly facilitate the discussion, I think, if he will be kind enough to do so.


It is rather difficult to follow the course which the noble Marquess suggests, because the whole object of this Amendment is to ask your lordships to re-insert clauses which were agreed to in Committee of the whole House, but which have been struck out. However, I will, so far as possble, endeavour to meet the wishes of the noble Marquess. Clause 3, as it left this House in Committee, when it reached the Standing Committee was negatived by a small majority of two in a small Committee; and as it is a very essential point of this Bill, it is proposed to ask your Lordships to re-insert it. The main object of the Clause 3 was to transfer the sanitary inspection of workshops proper from the Factory Inspectors to the Sanitary Authority. A clause, I am told, has been inserted precisely the same in the Bill which your Lordships have just been engaged upon, the Public Health (London) Bill. The question that I have to ask your Lordships to decide, and the reason why I ask you to assent to this proposal, is chiefly, as I said in the Second Reading, on the ground of numbers. The number of workshops has immensely increased, and for the inspection of the whole of our factories, an immense number, we have only 51 Factory Inspectors. There are, it is supposed, between 100,000 and 200,000 workshops in the country, and there are 1,600 Inspectors in England alone for those workshops. Our proposal is to allow the Factory Inspectors to enforce the regulations as to hours in these workshops as they have hitherto done, but we propose to put the sanitation of the workshops proper, with the other work to be undertaken by them, upon the Local Sanitary Authorities. The Government Inspectors, these 54 Inspectors in number, have ample work to do without looking after these 100,000 or 200,000 workshops. I know the objection raised to this clause was that it was supposed to be a retrograde policy, and going back from what was settled in the Act of 1878; but since that time the numbers of workshops have increased very largely, and also all our information goes to prove that the duties of the Local Sanitary Authorities are now carried out more efficiently than they used to be. I think I cannot put it upon stronger ground really than that question of numbers. It is impossible, without going to very large expense indeed, to increase the number of these Factory Inspectors to such an extent that they could efficiently inspect for the purpose of sanitation these countless workshops. Therefore, as this is a very essential point of the Bill, I ask your Lordships to assent to the proposal, which is virtually to reinstate Clause 3 as it left your Lordships House.

Amendment moved, in page 2 to insert as a new Clause after Clause 2:— (1.) Sections 3 and 33 of the Factories and Workshops Act, 1878 (which relate to cleanliness, ventilation, and overcrowding in, and limewashing of, factories and workshops) shall cease to apply to workshops. (2.) For the purpose of their duties with respect to workshops (not being workshops to which the Public Health (Loudon) Act, 1891, applies), a Sanitary Authority and their officers shall, without prejudice to their other powers have all such powers of entry, inspection, taking legal proceedings or otherwise, as an inspector under the principal Act. (3.) If any child, young person, or woman, is employed in a workshop, and the medical officer of the Sanitary Authority becomes aware thereof, he shall forthwith give written notice thereof to the Factory Inspector of the district."—(The Lord de Ramsey.)


I am sorry I cannot agree to the proposal of the noble Lord. This clause was fully considered in the Standing Committee, and it was rejected by 15 to 13 upon division. The noble Lord has given only one reason for taking this course of reinstating the clause, and thereby removing from the Sanitary Inspectors their sanitary duties with regard to workshops. The fact, he says, is that there are not enough Factory Inspectors to do the work. My answer to that is, if there are not enough Factory Inspectors to do the work given to them, more ought to be appointed. This is deliberately going back upon the policy which was adopted by the noble Viscount, Lord Cross, when he brought in the Act of 1878. By that Act he gave these sanitary powers to Factory Inspectors. I have no doubt, considering his great knowledge of the subject, and the great care which he took with that Act, that he did so deliberately upon a conviction that they were proper persons to be entrusted with those duties. It is now proposed to upset that arrangement, and to return to the arrangement by which the sanitary inspection of workshops was left entirely in the hands of the ordinary Sanitary Inspectors. Your Lordships will remember that that sanitary inspection was established in 1875 by the Public Health Act. Therefore the noble Viscount opposite, when he brought in his Act of 1878, had all the facts before him. It was with the rules and regulations of the Public Health Act of 1875 within his knowledge that he deliberately determined to give these powers to the Factory Inspectors, and I can see no reason whatever for going back from the course which was then adopted with great advantage, as I believe. It is not a sufficient reason to say that the number of Factory Inspectors must be increased if they are to continue to be charged with sanitary duties. On general grounds I think the number ought to be increased, and the House ought not to go back from the policy adopted in 1878 by the Government which introduced the Act which the present Bill proposes to amend. But if the noble Lord is so much afraid of the Factory Inspectors being overworked in consequence of retaining the clause conferring upon them duties as to Sanitary Inspection, I would say that I have not the least objection, and I would offer no opposition to the last two sub-sections of this clause. If those two sub-sections be adopted, that will give to the Sanitary Inspectors a concurrent right of inspection with the Factory Inspectors, but it will retain the power of the Factory Inspectors, so that while they probably need not inspect with a view to sanitary matters as frequently as they now do, they will have power to inspect if they like, and I confess I for one have much greater confidence in the Factory Inspectors in these matters than I have in the local Sanitary Inspectors. If those two Sub-sections 2 and 3 be retained, there will be a concurrent inspection between the Sanitary Inspectors and the Factory Inspectors; but I earnestly hope your Lordships will not reverse the decision of the Standing Committee which was arrived at after very considerable discussion, and that you will preserve to the Factory Inspectors the powers which were given to them in 1878 by the Bill of my noble Friend, Viscount Cross. I therefore move that this Amendment be amended by leaving out the 1st Sub-section.

Amendment moved to amend the said proposed new Clause by leaving out Sub section (1.)


My Lords, in a discussion of this kind it is always desirable to get as quickly as possible to the heart of the question. There is a good deal in the speech of the noble Marquess which I may put aside as useless—decorous, bat very ordinary Parliamentary form; for instance, urging your Lordships not to reverse the decision of the Standing Committee. In the Standing Committee I believe this was carried by a strictly Party vote.




At all events, it was carried by a majority of 15 to 13, therefore, I cannot say the authority of that vote is overwhelming. Then the noble Marquess points to the great experience and knowledge of my noble Friend, Lord Cross, and invites us to adhere to the decision at which Lord Cross arrived in 1875. I am the last person to derogate from the tribute which the noble Marquess has laid at the feet of Lord Cross, but of course some time has passed since 1875. A good deal of experience has been gained, conditions have shifted; the number of workshops has increased, and upon the experience of the Home Office, with all the facts before it, Her Majesty's Government, acting upon the re commendation of the Home Office, has taken the opposite view. Therefore, I think we may set that tribute to Lord Cross aside as not bearing very much upon the question. I think the other ground that the noble Marquess advanced was, that we must not deliberately undo the policy which was deliberately adopted in 1878. To that I can only say that we pass our lives in deliberately undoing what some Parliament did before us, and that if we laid down that we are not deliberately to undo a decision to which a previous Parliament has come, we should attain to what might be a very happy result, that is to say we should cease from our labours altogether. No, my Lords; the real gist of the noble Lord's argument was that he does not trust the Sanitary Inspectors, because he has so framed his Amendment as to bring that feeling out. He does not propose to relieve the Sanitary Inspectors of that duty, and he does not trust the Factory Inspectors to perform duties where they do not exist in sufficient numbers to carry out. It is, in fact, the Japanese proposal which my noble Friend mentioned the other night—always to have one man to watch another man and see that he is doing his duty. I should wait for some ground upon which to attack the Sanitary Inspectors before condemning them. As far as information has reached me, I believe them to be a very valuable and efficient body of men who perform their duties with great skill, and I should be very sorry to cast any slur upon them. I certainly would not, for the sake of correcting a wholly imaginary weakness of efficiency in the Sanitary Inspectors, embark on an enormous expenditure, as the noble Marquess requires us to do, in order to give effect to his suspicions or his apprehensions, for the enormous multiplication of these Factory Inspectors would be a very expensive luxury. The nation is teeming with inspectors of various kinds; they are positively overrunning the land. I have no doubt they have done an enormous deal of good; still we are rapidly reaching the condition of things in which there will be more people to inspect than people to be inspected; and I must plead for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This is really a proposal for an enormous additional expense. It will, I believe, not add to the efficiency of the Bill. It will in a great many respects dislocate the Bill. It will require the alteration of that Bill which my noble Friend Viscount Cross has just passed through the House, and it will do this merely to satisfy wholly imaginary suspicions and an estimate of the merits of Sanitary Inspectors which is not justified by experience. On these grounds I think your Lordships will do wisely, in spite of the overwhelming authority of a 15 to 13 majority in the Standing Committee, to restore the Bill to the condition in which it left this House.


I do not desire to say anything with regard to this having been a Party vote except this. I have not the slightest desire to put the matter on any invidious ground of any kind; but, as far as I am concerned, I was not in the least conscious of anything of the kind in voting upon this matter, and my friends, as the noble Marquess knows, are not very numerous. But what I wish is that this Amendment should be considered solely upon practical grounds. In the first place, I take a rather narrower view of the matter than my noble Friend. I agree with the noble Marquess in not desiring a large addition to the number of the Factory Inspectors. I quite agree with him upon that point; but the reason I think this Amendment is amended by the proposal of my noble Friend the Marquess of Ripon is this. I am bound to explain that my vote was given under a misapprehension, because I thought we were voting only upon the second and third sub-sections. Let me point out my reasons. The Factory Inspectors will retain all their powers as regards workshops, with the exception of these particular powers as to sanitation, ventilation, cleanliness, overcrowding, and lime-washing. Just observe what the practical effect will be if this Amendment passes as proposed. A Factory Inspector will go, in pursuance of his duties, to a workshop. He will find that the ventilation, cleanliness, and lime - washing are extremely defective, and instead of being able himself at once to give the necessary orders for remedying these defects he will have to give notice to the Sanitary Inspector, who will then have to go to the workshop, and will be expected to put the law in force. What I desire is not that the Factory Inspector should exercise these powers and discharge these duties habitually, but that the powers should be retained, so that they can be exercised if it be necessary to do so. The noble Marquess has made remarks upon the performance of their duties by the Sanitary Inspectors. If he will pardon me for saying it, he cannot, I think, have had any practical experience of the work of Sanitary Inspectors. There are, in fact, Sanitary Inspectors and Sanitary Inspectors; some of them are very efficient; some of them are very inefficient. But there is something more than that. The Sanitary Inspectors are servants of certain bodies which are largely composed and conducted by the very men whose workshops have to be inspected, and everyone knows that Sanitary Inspectors are very often afraid to discharge their duties. Therefore this great eulogy on Sanitary Inspectors, I can assure the noble Marquess, is not founded on fact. At the same time, I recognise the necessity of securing the services of Sanitary Inspectors for the purposes of this Bill. I agree with him that it would be quite impossible to multiply them for the purpose of performing all the duties they are now to discharge; and all I plead for is that we should not take away from the Factory Inspectors the powers which they now possess, and which I believe they may occasionally exercise with great advantage; and to interfere with them appears to me to be an unnecessary piece of obstruction and red-tape.


My Lords, I want to say one word upon the Amendment moved by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Ripon), and also to try and prove to your Lordships that the noble Earl who has just spoken is under a misapprehension as regards the powers of the Factory Inspectors under this Bill. If he will refer to Clause 2 he will see that when a Factory Inspector goes into a workshop to enforce the hours as it is his duty to do he also has the power if he sees anything wrong in the matter of sanitation to give information to the Local Authority at once. Then, after that, if the Local Authority fails to act, the Secretary of State has power, by Clause 1, at once to take that particular trade, or district, or factory, or workshop, into his own hands for any period, say one or two years, if he thinks necessary. To that extent with regard to sanitation the Factory Inspectors have still their eyes open in workshops. They are bound to go there for the enforcement of the law as to hours, and if they see that the sanitation is wrong they are bound to report.

On Question, whether sub-section (1) shall stand part of the proposed new clause, their Lordships divided:—Contents 69; Not Contents 29.

Clause agreed to.


My Lords, a very few words indeed will be required, I trust, to enable your Lordships to understand the Amendment which I move, and to assent to it. The object of the Amendment is to give County Councils power to remedy any defects which may arise in the course of the performance of the duties of subordinate Sanitary Authorities. It is framed on the pattern of the clause introduced in the London Bill, and I am quite satisfied that if it is wanted in London it is tenfold more wanted in the country. I do not intend to throw any slur, as the noble Marquess has said, upon the Sanitary Authorities. I do not deny there are many efficient Sanitary Authorities, but what did we find in the Sweating Committee? I will just read your Lordships a few lines of description of one of those dens which had not been removed by the sanitary authorities. This is the evidence of the condition of one of the places where the tailoresses work:— There were a few gas-jets flaring in the room, coke for firing burning in a wretched fireplace, the sinks untrapped, the closets without water, and altogether the sanitary-conditions abominable.

Then in another room described here, this was the kind of sanitation:— It was a room 9 feet by 15; a man and his wife and six children lived there, and there worked in the room during the daytime 10 men.

That was one of the wretched urban plague-spots. Then we come to Cradley Heath. What was the report there? There they threw their slops into the street. That water went into the wells, and they drank it; and as the doctor who gave evidence about it naively remarked, there was a great deal more typhoid fever than there ought to he in the place. I will not trouble your Lordships with more instances. The evidence before the Sweating Committee teemed with them. The sanitary conditions were found to be abominable, and one thing in which we thought a practical improvement might be made was in sanitary inspection. What have the Government done? They may have saved money. I daresay they have. But they have undoubtedly weakened beyond all measure the sanitary law. What is the course I propose to your Lordships? I do not ask for any money; I do not ask even for an increase of in spectors; I simply ask this, that when a Sanitary Authority has failed to perform its duty in any place, the County Council should have power to perform it. Then the Government has taken great credit for the Local Government Bill. I admit that the powers of Local government have been vastly increased by it. What have they done there? They have given the general superintendence to the medical officer; and all this Amendment asks is that the medical officers should have power to enforce the sanitary law if the Local Authorities do not enforce it. I say, if you disregard this clause, you do not give the country what the Government has given in the London Bill. You disregard all the recommendations of the Sweating Committee, to which the noble Marquess has paid so many compliments, but whose recommendations so little has been done to carry out. You have disregarded altogether the evidence—and there is page after page of it—of the miserable state of the workshops throughout the country. And why should you disregard it? The County Councils have ample power to do it, and they are the proper power to do it. I ask for this clause in the name of justice; and I say you ought to give it, in order to provide in some measure for the comfort and convenience, and for some measure of decency, in the case of the poor tailoresses working in such a den as I have described to your Lordships, for the chainmakers of Cradley Heath, and many other helpless workers throughout the country.

Moved, to insert after Clause 4— If it is proved to the satisfaction of the County Council of any county, except the County of London, that any Sanitary Authority within their jurisdiction, other than a municipal borough, has made default in doing their duty with respect to the inspection of workshops or workplaces, and the enforcement of the law relating to public health as to drains, cleanliness, ventilation, overcrowding, or limewashing, in such workshops and workplaces, the County Council may do any act or institute any proceeding which the Sanitary Authority in default might have done or instituted for the purpose of remedying the default of the Sanitary Authority, and shall be entitled to recover from such Sanitary Authority all such expenses in or about such act or proceedings as the County Council may have incurred, and are not recovered from any other person, and have not been incurred in any unnecessary proceeding. The County Council may appoint an inspector or inspectors for the purpose of assisting the county medical officer in the discharge of his duty under this section. The county medical officer, or any inspector appointed by the County Council to assist the medical officer, shall have the same powers of entering and inspecting a workshop or workplace within the county as the inspector of the Sanitary Authority has of entering and inspecting the workshops or workplaces within his jurisdiction. Any expenses incurred by the County Council in pursuance of this section shall be deemed to be general expenses incurred by them in performance of their duties.—(The Lord Thring.)


My Lords, the noble Lord who has just spoken, is hardly just to the Government, when he says that little attention has been paid to the recommendations of the Sweating Committee. If he will take the report of the Sweating Committee and their recommendations, and compare them with the provisions in the Bill, he will see that some of those recommendations have been either totally agreed with or largely adopted. This is only a trifling proposal to interfere with the government of 1,300 areas! The noble Lord has left out of his proposal two authorities, which he has previously tried to include, and I fail to understand why he should fix upon the rural districts for his proposal, and desire to experiment upon them, when he leaves the county boroughs and the non-county boroughs out. It has as yet to be proved that the rural districts require the fatherly care, which the noble Lord does not propose to extend to the towns, and I hope your Lordships will pause before agreeing to it. I submit to this House that it is hardly, in a Factory and Workshop Bill, right to introduce into it a large alteration in Local Government, such as I have mentioned, and such as the noble Lord proposes; an alteration in the Local Government of 1,300 areas, and an alteration which I submit to your Lordships would come into a Public Health Bill much better than into a Factory and Workshop Bill. Therefore, I hope, reminding your Lordships once more of these despotic powers in Clause 1, you will not, on this occasion, in this Factory and Workshop Bill, allow these rural districts to be experimented upon. We have no proof that the local bodies, the Boards of Guardians, Sanitary Boards, and others, have been so inefficient in the performance of their duties that we need this drastic legislation.


I do not think the noble Lord is quite right in regard to the boroughs. All towns which are not municipal boroughs, and all those very large, and sometimes very insanitary, villages in the manufacturing districts of the North of England come under this clause, and I confess I think the County Councils should have powers such as are proposed to be given to them with regard to general supervision. My noble Friend has amended his clause from the shape in which it was in Committee, when I ventured to suggest that some of the propored powers were too stringent. Those have been removed, and the clause will apply to all the Rural Sanitary Authorities mentioned, and to towns which are not Municipal Boroughs.


I should like to call the attention of the noble Lord and of the House to what has been said upon Clause 2 of the Public Health (London) Bill which we have just disposed of. As the noble Lord has said, it is a very serious matter to give any superior Local Authority power to interfere with the proceedings of the authorities within its area. By Clause 102 of the Bill to which the House has just given its assent as regards London, it is provided that the County Council of London, on its being proved to its satisfaction that any Sanitary Authority has made any default with regard to the removal of any nuisance, or the enforcement of any bye-law, shall be entitled to take any proceeding which that authority might have been entitled to take in order to enforce it. I cannot myself see why the duty which it is necessary to entrust to the County Council of London in order to see that the subordinate Sanitary Authorities do their duty should be improper to be conferred upon the other County Councils throughout the country. I cannot see how it can be right in the one case and not in the other, unless it be shown either that the Sanitary Authorities in the country do their duty better than in London—of which there is no evidence at present as far as I know—or that the London County Council is more to be trusted than the other County Councils throughout England.


I think, at all events, there is sufficient to induce us to re-consider the matter, and we may have to consider it at a future stage of the Bill.

Amendment (by leave of the House) withdrawn.

Clause 16.


My Lords, I have a Motion for the omitting of Clause 16, and in moving the omission of that clause which prescribes what it does, namely, that no woman should be allowed to work within four weeks after her confinement, I feel that I must ask the indulgence of your Lordships. I feel that I am taking upon myself considerable responsibility, and that the subject is one of considerable difficulty and delicacy. I hope, however, that I shall say nothing that will give offence to any of your Lordships in the remarks I am about to make, and I would ask your Lordships to remember this; that I speak not in my own name, but in the name of those who have a right—at least, many of those who have a right to speak in the name of the working women who will be affected by this Bill. The clause provides, as I have said, that no woman is to be allowed to work until four weeks have elapsed after her confinement. Now, how is this rule got at? This Bill emanates from the Government, and it was drawn up in the Home Office. The Home Secretary is a gay bachelor, and, of course, he knows nothing of the subject to which this clause refers; so I suppose it was drawn up by a married Committee of the Cabinet, that they compared their own domestic experiences, and that they struck a happy mean of convalescence at four weeks from the cases which have come under their notice. But what may suit Cabinets does not suit the great mass of the women of this country. As I have said, they protest against this legislation—at least, those in whose names I speak, and with whom I have been brought into contact. I asked my own London doctor, who has worked in the country, what he thought of this question, and he said— I only know this, that in the country it is very different from what it is in the Metropolis. I know I once confined a woman at 11 o'clock at night, and next day she was at work between 10 and 11 in the morning; I found her washing her clothes outside her house. I have here a letter from a lady who knows thoroughly the state and condition of things among the working class women, Miss Lupton, the Secretary to the Laundry Women's Co-operative Association. She writes to me— Neighbours generally look after a woman for about two days; at the end of three days she is generally to be found doing her domestic work, cooking, and looking after her children, and sending them to school. If it is a hard case and workhouse relief is called in, it is given grudgingly for a week, and the Lying-in Hospitals keep a woman a fortnight. That, my Lords, is underlined twice. What is to happen if these women, who are mostly bread-winners, are prevented from working for a month God alone knows, I don't know. I have consulted a very distinguished lady physician, and she said to me— I can only tell you my experience is this, that I always go to my ordinary work one fortnight after the birth of my children. Thus I venture to think this provision which may suit many is not necessary for the mass of the working women of this country. But the objections to it are more than this. It is objected to as needlessly interfering with the rights of full grown women to dispose of their labour; and, further, I would point out that it is impossible to carry out such a provision, and it shows the folly of the State attempting what is beyond its power. You provide that no woman who has been regularly confined shall be at work within less than four weeks afterwards; but there are accidents in married life—no provision whatever is made for such cases—which require even greater care and rest, and there would thus be an absolute miscarriage of your humanitarianism in dealing with this question. That is the fact so far, but there are other grounds. If you legislate on this line you will have to go a great deal further. You will prevent a woman after her confinement following her legitimate occupation and earning wages from being employed until four weeks have elapsed, but you could not with all the Inspectors which my noble Friend would wish to impose upon this country, with all their aid and multiplying them by a hundred, you could not prevent women under those circumstances taking odd jobs which would probably be much harder work for them than that which they would otherwise be doing. In France the same sort of thing has been tried, and a French cousin of mine who was over here the other day was laughing at the whole thing. He told me that the latest proposal there was that every woman should be shut up for her confinement for a month, but that the women themselves had risen up against such a proceeding, for they said they knew, if they went away from home for a month, they would find some other woman in the house in their place when they returned; so that that proposal I think is likely to fall through. What does this Clause do? It takes away literally 1–12th of a woman's earnings in the year. I believe if some of the right rev. Prelates had their way they would prevent women working for a month before as well as a month after their confinement; and in that case one-sixth of the earnings of these poor women would be taken away. If that be so, how are these poor women to be compensated? Is that wretched, unhappy beast of burden, the ratepayer to have this additional burden put upon him? Are wages to be found for these women while you do not allow them to earn any themselves? But there is a very serious aspect to this question, and that is its moral aspect. I suppose the right rev. Prelates have paid very little attention to this, but there are such occurrences as children not born in wedlock, where there is no bread-winner to help the woman when she is debarred by the laws of this country, if this measure passes, from working for her livelihood. What is to become of those poor women? The tendency of this legislation is threefold in such cases; it will tend to promote abortion; it will tend to encourage concealment; and in some cases, as these women write to me and say, it will necessitate prostitution in order that they may live. These are considerations which I respectfully submit to your Lordships, and I ask you to allow me to read a few extracts, which will be far more powerful than any words of mine, from letters which I have received on the subject. I have received letters from the Secretaries of the Tailoresses' Association, of the Bookbinders' Association, of the Upholsterers' Association, and of the Shirt and Collar Makers' Association. Those are all women who are associated for their trade purposes, and, if your Lordships will allow me to quote from their letters, this is what they say. I will take the Shirt and Collar Makers. The letter is very short, and the Secretary addressing me says she is sure that I will do my best. To prevent Clause 16 of the Factories Act becoming law, as it will interfere with the women of my trade, many of whom do not come back at the end of three weeks unless they are obliged to by need of bread. No woman of my trade would think of coming back unless she was fit to do so. I strongly object to the law interfering with matters of this sort. Women can be trusted to take care of themselves. The clause does not seem to realise that there are unfortunate women without husbands who are very glad to go to work at the very earliest time, so as to help to keep their child and keep out of the lowest depths of degradation. I shall not trouble your Lordships with other letters of the same kind from persons of the same class, but I have here letters to which I earnestly call your Lordships' attention. One is a letter from Mrs. Fawcett, another is a letter from Mrs. Garrett Anderson, M.D., and I have also two letters from Lady Goldsmith, who is the head of the Women's Employment Society. What says Mrs. Fawcett, a name never to be mentioned in either House of Parliament without honour. She says— Dear Lord Wemyss, I was very thankful to hear you were going to oppose the clause in the new Factory Bill, prohibiting the labour of women for 4 weeks after childbirth. It appears to me such a provision would be either a dead letter, or in the hands of an employer a means of inquisitorial tyranny and annoyance. No Government can provide for the well being of mothers before and after childbirth, and it is playing with the subject to pretend to do so. These matters must rest, as it seems to us, in the good sense and good feeling and financial necessities of the principal party concerned. The clause, unless it becomes a dead letter, might press very injuriously on widows, deserted wives, and unmarried mothers. Take the case of an unmarried mother earning her living in a factory. The most extensive provision the law procures her from the father of her child is 5s. a week, and if the law provides nothing else for her she must work. If it is claimed that in these circumstances the mother and child can receive comfortable maintenance out of the rates, some of the worst evils of the old Poor Law will be revived. If honest work is denied her, the chances are she will be forced into a lower depth of evil than any into which she has already sunk. Her inducement to conceal the birth of her child, already very strong, will be reinforced, and I earnestly hope you will be successful in endeavouring to oppose this clause. Then Mrs. Dr. Garrett Anderson comes next. What does she say? I have already told your Lordships of one medical lady who informs me she goes to work within 14 days after her confinement. Mrs. Garrett Anderson says— So far as I am able to judge, the clause is quite unnecessary, and I believe it would do far more harm than good. Many women who work hard all their lives are quite able to work in less than a month after their confinement, and whether they are or not, they ought to be left entirely to decide for themselves. If legislation is wanted on such a point, why not extend it to the other conditions of health. And that is where legislation of this sort breaks down— It might with as much sense be made illegal to work within a given time after any other form of illness. I have two other important letters one is from the Honorary Secretary of the Women's Employment Society, Miss Heather Bigg, of which Lady Goldsmid is the head, and it is much to the same effect as the others. Those ladies clearly perceive one cause for the demand for this kind of legislation, namely, the desire of the Trade Unions to keep women from competing with their members. In this letter Miss Bigg says— Several representative working women with whom I have talked on the subject, assure me that in our country there is no general need for such a provision. It is the grossest libel upon the English working man to assert that he is in the habit of forcing his wife to return to work before she is fit for it. … With regard to the enforcement of the contemplated law, this would be difficult, if not impossible. In Austria a similer prohibition of women's work after confinement is supposed to be in force, but it appears from the Report of the Inspector of Industries there (1888) that the Law is very generally infringed. The mere attempt to enforce such a law, however, would be productive of hardship. … Clause 16 embodies one of the recommendations of the Berlin Labour Conference, but it also embodies a pernicious tendency to make concern for women's health a plea for driving them out of the labour market. Do not forget that my Lords. This, however, is more plainly referred to in the last letter which I think it necessary to read to your Lordships. Lady Goldsmid writes to the effect that there may be surprise felt why there has not been a move made in this matter before, but they could not believe there was such a provision in an English Parliamentary measure until a few clays ago. I may say that I did not myself know it. Lady Goldsmid says— I have only just heard that in the new Factories Bill there is a clause to forbid employers employing a woman until four weeks after she has given birth to a child. The whole story is told very briefly on one sheet of notepaper. Lady Goldsmid says— For three different reasons the provision seems to me to be mischievous and undesirable. First, the State interference with adult women, depriving them of individuality and responsibility and keeping them as perpetual minors. That is the first thing— Next, the condition of women after childbirth varies in almost every case, one being at the end of a fortnight like another at the end of four weeks. I have given you authority for that— Thirdly, the pressure upon women who have to gain their livelihood is so great in many cases that if the law forbade their returning to their accustomed employment for so long, they would be driven to other work no less and perhaps more onerous. This is not an ideal state of things, but it is a fact, and it is to be deplored that the State should step in to put additional fetters on women, who might now reasonably hope for the removal of those which they have long endured and found to be a burden. I am referring to impediments in some branches of work, some of which have not been removed. Now mark what follows, my Lords, I pray you, for this is at the bottom of the agitation of Members of Parliament and others in dealing with this matter as they are now trying to do. Here is Lady Goldsmid's view of the motive power of all this. She says— All the agitation which has been going on this Session to restrict women's work has been mainly caused by men, Trade Unionists, for their own interests, and against those of the women. I have nothing more to add, save to apologise to your Lordships for taking up so much of your time. This subject is one of great importance, and I hope in dealing with so very difficult and delicate a matter I have not given offence to the ears of any of your Lordships. All I would say in conclusion is, that in speaking last Wednesday week at St. James's Hall, to an admiring and applauding audience, the Prime Minister said there was a great tendency to come to the State for everything at the present day, but that, after all, with all the goodwill in the world, there was little the State could and ought to do. All I hope is that when listening to these letters which I have read the noble Marquess and your Lordships may come to the conclusion that this 16th clause is one of those matters which Parliament had better leave alone, and which if it interferes with, it will fail to deal with satisfactorily, and I beg to move the omission of this clause.

Amendment moved, to leave out Clause 16.—(The Lord Wemyss.)


My Lords, it is hardly advisable to allow this clause to be omitted. It was a suggestion of the Berlin Conference, and has been for good reasons inserted in this Bill. Of course, your Lordships will decide whether it is advisable or not to endeavour to prevent a woman for a month after childbirth doing work. The opinion is that it is advisable not only for her own sake, but also possibly for the sake of those yet tinhorn. There is no doubt it may be difficult to enforce thoroughly and strictly the proposal here made. I think it was made a chief point in the; other House that the time before childbirth as well as after should be taken into account. That is hardly practicable, but if your Lordships think this is practicable I hope you will allow it to remain.


My Lords, I wish to give full consideration to anything that is said by my noble Friend, and especially by the very distinguished persons whose letters he quoted, but I missed from the noble Lord's speech any allusion to the frightful evils which are inflicted upon women who are forced to go to their work before they are fit for doing it upon these occasions. But the noble Lord spoke of the right of women to settle the matter for themselves. Of course he has a perfect right to go against the whole principle of our factory legislation if he chooses, but that is the principle of our factory legislation. The principle is that we should take care of those who, for some reason or other are subject to other people and are not able to take care of themselves. Our factory legislation does not profess to take care of adult men, but of women and children. It has from its first inception taken care of them on the ground that they are liable to be forced to do that which is inconsistent with their health and well-being by those who are stronger than themselves. There is another consideration which my noble Friend did not notice, but which, I think, is of great importance. I think it is of great importance to protect these women themselves from the terrible evils which result from over exertion under these circumstances; but there is another reason why we should interfere for their protection and prevent them being forced to go to work too soon: that is, that the child suffers. The child is no longer properly nourished, and that is inflicting very serious injury on a being whom we are bound to protect. Of course, a great injury may be done at that time which is liable to end in the child growing up a stunted, dwarfed, unhealthy man. If my noble and learned Friend's memory can carry him back to the fearful revelations which were made of the condition of the population before the Factory Acts were passed, he will, I think, realise that we are bound to take care of the life of immature boys and girls who cannot take care of themselves, and whose health is valuable, not only to themselves, but also to their country men, because they constitute the mass of the population. There is a great deal to be said in these matters. This may not be a precise limit; but, on the whole, the evil is so great that, although it may not be perfectly logical, although it may occasionally preclude women who are strong enough to work from working at too early a period on these occasions, I still think, as at present advised, your Lordships' House would be unwise to reject this clause.


I would like to ask the noble Lord a question, but before doing so, I would say a word on the point he has raised, with regard to women being forced to do that which would be bad for them; but this Bill does not prevent this. No doubt a brutal husband cannot send his wife to employment under this clause within a month after childbirth to a factory, but he can force her to take any scrap work he can find for her to do, which may be much harder than her ordinary work. It defeats itself. Then there is another point—this Berlin Conference; it is apparently a millstone which is to be hung about the neck of our social legislation. We are told we must do this on account of the recommendations of the Berlin Conference.


I did not make any such suggestion. I did not raise that point at all.


I beg pardon, it was said by Lord de Ramsey, I think, who is in charge of the Bill, and it is said also outside. I have read it from these letters. I have no wish to press this matter to a Division if that can be avoided, but I have felt bound, acting for these ladies, to bring the matter to an issue as favourable to them as I can. I would ask is there any likelihood of my noble Friend, before the Third Reading, re-considering his view and allowing this clause to be omitted in accordance with my Amendment?


Of course I never refuse to consider the arguments of noble Lords, and I will speak to the Home Secretary upon the matter which has been brought forward by the noble Earl, but I confess that, as at present advised, the arguments to my mind are very strong in favour of retaining the clause.


Does the noble Lord wish to divide the House?


I divide simply in protest.

On Question whether the clause shall stand part of the Bill, their Lordships divided:—Contents 81; Not-Contents 24.


I have an Amendment now in Clause 26, page 10, line 29, to insert "every contractor employed by any such occupier." This is in conjunction with another Amendment, inserted to meet the wishes of many noble Lords who have been anxious to extend the powers of making it compulsory, as far as possible, to include the middleman and those whom he employs in the service of the factory or workshop. The noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, moved an Amendment which carried out exactly the same good object, but there was something to which exception was taken in the wording of his Amendment. I hope he will think the Amendment I propose now carries out the object he has had so much at heart, in reducing the evils of sweating. I hope your Lordships will accept the Amendment.

Amendment moved, in Clause 26, page 10, line 29, after "therein" to insert "and every contractor employed by any such occupier."—(The Lord de Ramsey.)


I am very much obliged to the noble Lord for the way in which I have been met by him on behalf of the Government. I think it will furnish a plan by which we may get at the information the Inspectors so much desire; and it will be done, I think, without interfering with the privacy of the domestic workshops. I do not suppose, of course, for one moment, that it will abolish sweating, but still it will bring within the reach of Inspectors that information as to the whereabouts of the very worst class of sweating dens which is so much required. I think it is very desirable they should be got at if possible.


My Lords, before this Motion is put I should like to ask the noble Lord in charge of the Bill whether the power granted to the Home Office to appoint sub-Inspectors is to be exercised, and if it is, whether the Home Office is prepared to appoint female sub-Inspectors. It is not suggested that these Inspectors should visit or inspect machinery, nor, if there is any objection to it, that they should visit factories and workshops in the slums of Shoreditch or Whitechapel, or places of that sort; but that they should visit workshops and factories in the great centres of our industry in which hundreds of women are often employed in one factory. Since this Bill was before your Lordships in Committee my noble Friend Lord Leigh has received a letter, which I have seen, from a large employer in my neighbourhood. The letter itself has been handed to the noble Lord in charge of the Bill, and I can only speak from recollection. This gentleman tells us he has 250 women and more employed in his works in Staffordshire, and he would be very glad if women Inspectors were appointed. The women would themselves take it as a great boon, because they feel that they could more easily and with greater freedom answer questions on sanitary subjects, and on the arrangements made for their comfort if the questions were put by a female Inspector. I have heard it said that women would not like, or be qualified, to undertake this work, but I would refer to those who have passed their examinations and received their diplomas in medicine, and I assure your Lordships there are many ladies who would make admirable officials and Inspectors. I hope the noble Lord will be able to tell us that the Home Office will be prepared to appoint at least, as an experiment, three or four of these female Inspectors; and from what we have heard to-night of the overwork of the Factory Inspectors, and the small number of them, I hope this will be agreed to.


My Lords, as regards the female Inspectors, the Secretary of State has the power now of appointing them if he thinks fit. The second question that the noble Lord asked is, "Has that power ever been exercised?" To the best of my belief it has not. Thirdly, he asks, "Is the Home Office prepared to appoint one or two as an experiment?" There would be some difficulty in having a joint inspection carried out between male and female Inspectors in factories. A joint inspection, or dual control of that kind might be disadvantageous, but I am not at all prepared to say in places where women only are employed a female Inspector might not be of advantage. The noble Lord will not, of course, expect a definite declaration of any sort from me on this subject; but I would wish, repre- senting the Secretary of State, to speak to some extent sympathetically of the object which the noble Lord opposite and other Lords have in this matter. I understand their wishes would be met if even one female Inspector were appointed as an experiment; and I can only say the matter is receiving the best attention from the Secretary of State, and that if it is feasible and possible he will exercise his power.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill to be read 3a to-morrow; and to be printed, as amended. [No. 257.]