HL Deb 26 April 1921 vol 45 cc9-10

THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY OF THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH (THE EARL OF ONSLOW) had given Notice in accordance with the provisions of Section 8, subsection 3, of the Ministry of Health Act, 1919, to move to resolve, "That this House approves the said Draft Order."

The noble Earl said: My Lords, under the provisions of subsection (3) of section 8 of the Ministry of Health Act., 1919, it is proposed by the first of these two draft Orders to transfer certain powers now exercised by the Home Office to the Ministry of Health. The powers which it is proposed to transfer are under the Factories and Workshops Act, 1901, and are those conferred by Sections 61, 97 to 100, 109, 110 and 120. Section 61 provides that an occupier of a factory or workshop shall not knowingly allow a woman or girl to be. employed within four weeks after she has given birth to a child. It will be much easier for the Ministry to take steps to secure enforcement of this section with the aid of local authorities carrying out maternity and child welfare schemes, and to see that its provisions are carried out, than it was for the Horne Office to do so.

As regards Sections 97 to 100, these sections contain provisions dealing with the sanitary condition of bakehouses, and are designed partly for the protection of the public health and partly for the protection of the workers employed. As regards retail bakehouses, the sections are already enforced by the officers of local authorities and not by the Home Office inspectors, and it will be an undoubted general convenience if the administration of the provisions is in the hands of the Ministry of Health, in view of the close relations in which they' are placed with local authorities. Coming to Sections 109 and 110, Section 109 imposes penalties on an employer who knowingly gives out work to a person living in a house in which an inmate is suffering from scarlet fever or smallpox; and Section 110 enables a district council to make an order forbidding any work to be given out to a person residing or working in a house in which an inmate is, or has been, suffering from any notifiable infectious disease. These provisions, I think, can more profitably be dealt with by the Ministry then by the Home Office.

Then, under Section 120, the power of the Home Secretary to authorise inspectors to take proceedings for the enforcement of these provisions is transferred to the Minister of Health. It is agreed, I think, that the administration of sonic of these provisions would be better undertaken by the local authorities themselves than by a central authority such as the Ministry, but the transfer cannot be performed by an Order in Council. We hope to introduce legislation for this purpose when practicable, but in the meantime it is not considered necessary to appoint any additional staff for the purpose of carrying on the functions transferred under this Order. I beg to move.

Moved, That the House approves the said Draft Order. — (The Earl of Onslow.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.