HL Deb 29 April 1913 vol 14 cc331-5

Moved, That the Report of Amendment be now received.—(Lord Strachie.)


Before this Motion is put I desire to assure my noble friend behind me (Lord Sheffield) and the noble Marquess on the Front Opposition Bench (Lord Salisbury), in reply to the questions which they put to me the other day when this Bill was in Committee, that the Home Office will undertake that in all cases the Metropolitan Police shall notify to the local education authority the names and addresses of the applicants for licences under this Bill. While the Home Office has a right to give orders to the Metropolitan Police it has no right to give instructions to the Provincial Police, but in this case the Home Office will also request the Provincial Police, both borough and county, to give similar notices to their local education authorities, and we know from experience that all requests from the Home Office are gladly complied with as far as possible by the Police forces throughout the country. I was also asked, when the retrospective Clause 3 was, deleted in Committee on the Motion of the noble Marquess opposite, to consider whether it was desirable to do anything further in that matter. I am able to inform the noble Marquess that Mr. McKenna has decided that there is no need to reintroduce the retrospective clause into this Bill.


I understand that the engagement into which the noble Lord enters on behalf of the Home Office is one of those Parliamentary engagements of which we appreciate the full value—that is to say, that upon a case of this kind happening the Home Office will instruct the Metropolitan Police to communicate with the local education authority in London, and will address a letter to the local Police forces asking them to do the same thing in the case of their education authority. I am quite aware that the Home Office is not empowered to give orders to the local Police, but it is a common practice, happening almost every day, that a letter of advice does proceed from the Home Office to the local Police, and inasmuch as the Home Office is largely the paymaster of the local Police these letters of advice are fairly effective. Therefore if I understand that the noble Lord in giving this engagement speaks on behalf of the Home Office, I am quite satisfied.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 2:

Grant of licences.

2.—(1) A police magistrate may grant a licence in such form as the Secretary of State may prescribe, and subject to such restrictions and conditions as the police magistrate thinks fit, for any young person to go out of the United Kingdom for the purpose of singing, playing, performing, or being exhibited for profit, but no such licence shall be granted unless the police magistrate is satisfied—

  1. (a) that the application for the licence is made by or with the consent of the parent or guardian of the young person;
  2. (b) that the young person is going out of the United Kingdom in order to fulfil a particular engagement;
  3. (c) that the young person is fit for the purpose;
  4. (d) that proper provision has been made to secure the health, kind treatment, and adequate supervision of the young person whilst abroad and his return to the United Kingdom at the expiration or revocation of the licence;
  5. (e) that a copy of the contract of employment or other document, showing the terms and conditions of employment, drawn up in a language understood by the young person, has been furnished to the young person.

(2) A licence under this section shall not be granted for more than three months, but may be renewed by a police magistrate from time to time for a like period, but no such renewal shall be granted unless the police magistrate is satisfied by a report of a British consular officer or other trustworthy person that the conditions of the licence are being complied with.

(3) Where a person applies for a licence or the renewal of a licence under this section he shall at least seven days before making the application give notice thereof to the chief officer of the police for the district in which the young person resides or resided, and that officer may make a report in writing on the case to the police magistrate, or may appear or instruct some person to appear before the police magistrate hearing the application and show cause why the licence should not be granted or renewed, and the police magistrate shall not grant or renew the licence unless he is satisfied that notice has been properly so given.

(4) The police magistrate to whom application is made for the grant or renewal of a licence under this section shall, unless he is satisfied that under the circumstances it is unnecessary, require the applicant to give such security, either by entering into a recognisance with or without sureties or otherwise, as he may think lit for the observance of the restrictions and conditions contained in the licence, and the recognisance may he enforced in like manner as a recognisance for the doing of some matter or thing required to be done in a proceeding before a court of summary jurisdiction is enforceable.

(5) In any proceeding for enforcing a recognisance under this section, a report of any British consular officer, and any deposition made on oath before a British consular officer and authenticated by the signature of that officer respecting the observance or non-observance of any of the conditions or restrictions contained in a licence granted under this Act, shall, upon proof that the consular officer or deponent cannot be found in the United Kingdom, be admissible in evidence; and it shall not be necessary to prove the signature or official character of the person appearing to have signed any such report or deposition.

(6) Where a licence is granted under this section, the police magistrate shall send to the Secretary of State for transmission to the proper consular officer such particulars as the Secretary of State may by regulation prescribe, and every consular officer shall register the particulars so transmitted to him and perform such other duties in relation thereto as the Secretary of State may direct.

(7) A licence granted under this section may be revoked by the police magistrate at any time if ho is satisfied that any of the conditions on which the licence was granted are not being complied with.


I understood, in Committee, that the Government were prepared to extend the right of being heard to all local authorities throughout the country, and I therefore expected to see on the Paper to-day an Amendment in the name of the noble Lord in charge of the Bill giving effect to that. But the Government merely give us an assurance that in the metropolitan district orders will be given to the Police, and that outside the metropolitan district a strong suggestion will be made to the Police to let the local authorities be heard. It must be remembered that hitherto in all these cases of employment of young people the right of being heard has been secured by Statute to the local education authority, and I think it is undesirable in this case that the local education authority should not have the same statutory right. I do not press for the substitution of the local education authority for the Police, but I beg to move, after the words ill subsection (3) "Where a person applies for a licence or the renewal of a licence under this section he shall at least seven days before making the application give notice thereof to the chief officer of the Police," to add the words "and to the local education authority"; and as a consequential Amendment should the first one be carried I shall move, after the words "that officer" two lines further down, to add the words "and the representative of the local education authority." I take it that the intention of the Government is that information should be given to the local education authority in order that they may appear and produce evidence. The tendency of recent legislation for young people has been to entrust to the local education authorities great responsibility for the welfare of these young people during the time when they are passing into the adult stage, and therefore I think it is well to provide in the Bill itself that notice shall concurrently be given to the local education authority; otherwise, the interval between applying for a licence and the hearing not being a long one, the Police may communicate with the local education authority too late for the latter to make inquiries.

Amendment moved— Clause 2, page 2, line 31, after the word ("police"), insert ("and to the local education authority").—(Lord Sheffield.)


I think my noble friend might have given me private notice that he intended to move this Amendment. In the circumstances I have had no time at all to consider it. But it seems to me that it is liable to some of the objections which I stated the other clay when I mentioned that we did not wish to mix up this question, which is to a large extent a Police question, with the educational one. I would remind my noble friend that local education authorities have no jurisdiction over these young persons. If it were a question of children, there might then be a good deal to be said for introducing the local education authority in the way the noble Lord proposes; but there, again, I should object to mixing up the local education authority with the Police. I am afraid I must resist the Amendment.


I am quite willing that the Amendment should stand over until the Third Reading. But I think I was entitled to assume, after the assurance given by the Government, that they would have put down an Amendment on the Paper for today. I am, as I have stated, quite willing to postpone my Amendment, and I hope that in the meantime the noble Lord in charge of the Bill will make himself more acquainted than he now appears to be with recent legislation concerning young persons.


I have clone to-day all that I undertook to do, and that was to give an undertaking that the local education authority should receive notice in these cases. I never undertook that there should be an Amendment inserted in the Bill to that effect. It is much better that notices should be sent to the Police by the Home Office in the way I have explained.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


The object of adding at the end of subsection (3) the words in the Amendment standing in my name is to make provision whereby the chief officer of Police, the Police magistrate, and the Home Office shall all be informed of the conditions of employment of these young persons. I think the House will see how desirable it is that the conditions of employment should be clearly set out, and should be understood by the chief officer of Police and by the Police magistrate, who will decide whether or not the licence should be given; and also that the Home Office should have the terms before them in order that they can forward them to the Consuls abroad where the children are employed so that the Consuls may be aware of the conditions of employment and may be able to take action should those conditions be broken in any respect.

Amendment moved— Clause 2, page 2, line 37, after ("given") insert ("The notice given by the applicant shall be accompanied by a copy of the contract of employment or other document showing the terms and conditions of employment, which copy shall be sent by the chief officer of police to the police magistrate").—(Lord Strachie.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Bill to be read 3a on Monday next, and to be printed as amended. (No. 40.)