HL Deb 07 March 1912 vol 11 cc333-5

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Ashby St. Ledgers.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]

Clause 1:

Repeal of 1 Edw. 7, c. 22, s. 157.

1. Section one hundred and fifty-seven of the Factory and Workshop Act, 1901, which provides that certain provisions of that Act shall not apply to men's workshops, is hereby repealed.


My Lords, I move to leave out the words "is hereby repealed," and to insert the words "shall cease to have effect on and after the first day of October nineteen hundred and twelve, but in so far as that section excludes men's workshops from the provisions of Part VII of the Act it shall cease to have effect on the passing of this Act." This Amendment is intended to modify the Bill, which, as it stands, would apply to all factories where men only are employed certain provisions involving in many cases structural alterations, and it is only right that where new conditions are imposed on the carrying on of an industry a reasonable amount of time should be given to those occupying the factories to adapt themselves to the new conditions. I am glad to see that the noble Lord in charge of the Bill has met this point to a great extent in the Amendment which he has placed on the Paper, and which is in these terms— Clause 1, page 1, line 8, after ("repealed") insert ("Provided that where a person was immediately before the passing of this Act exempt front such provisions as aforesaid in respect of any premises he shall not be convicted of any contravention of or failure to comply with any of those provisions which takes place before the first day of November nineteen hundred and twelve if he proves that in order to comply therewith structural alterations of those premises were necessary"). But the noble Lord's Amendment throws the burden of proof on the occupier of the premises, which I think is contrary to the ordinary rule of law and rather hard on our industries. But the real point is that the words "structural alterations" in the noble Lord's Amendment are somewhat vague. The occupier is given a statutory defence limited to his proving that structural alterations were necessary. That defence, it seems to me, would not apply to such alterations as the provision of expensive appliances for procuring internal ventilation. In that case it would rest on the occupier to show that structural alterations were really required. If the requirements of the Bill could be met by the provision of, say, very costly appliances, his defence would fall to the ground. I would ask the noble Lord to consider whether the words "structural alterations" are not somewhat vague, and whether he could not meet the point I have put forward.

Amendment moved— Clause 1, page 1, lines 7 and 8, leave out ("is hereby repealed") and insert ("shall cease to have effect on and after the first day of October nineteen hundred and twelve, but in so far as that section excludes men's workshops from the provisions of Part VII of the Act it shall cease to have effect on the passing of this Act")—(The Earl of Dunmore.)


The Amendment moved by the noble Earl is the outcome of a suggestion made by the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition when this Bill was before the House on Second Reading. The noble Marquess pointed out that unless a certain amount of time were given to owners of workshops the Bill would press rather hardly upon them, and I have put down an Amendment which I think meets the case stated by the noble Marquess. I admit that the point between us is not a large one, but I prefer my Amendment to the noble Earl's, and seeing that this is a Government Bill and that there is really so little between us I would be glad if the noble Earl would allow my Amendment to go in instead of his. I do not think the point he raises about the words "structural alterations" is an important one. It seems to me clear that any occupier of a workshop would be able to demonstrate quite easily that certain time was required for making the alterations, and there would be no difficulty whatever in his proving it. I hope, therefore, that the noble Earl will allow my Amendment to stand as it is.


The noble Lord in charge of the Bill has not explained why it is that he objects to the terms of my noble friend's Amendment. It is quite clear that the Government's Amendment narrows the effect of the provision very considerably. My noble friend behind me proposes that the Bill as a whole should not come into operation until after a reasonable amount of notice has been given. The Government proposal is that adequate notice should be given only in respect of alterations which can be described as structural, and not in respect of other alterations of the premises. I should have thought the simpler course was to give a reasonable number of months' notice before which the Bill as a whole would not come into operation.


If the House prefers the noble Earl's Amendment to mine, it is, of course, for your Lordships to say so. I am in the hands of the House, though I do not think there is much difference between the two Amendments.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


As your Lordships have inserted Lord Dunmore's Amendment I do not move the Amendment standing in my name.

Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 11.)