HL Deb 25 November 1926 vol 65 cc842-5

React 3ª (according to Order).

Clause 1:

Regulations as to use of lead paint.

1.—(1) The Secretary of State may make regulations for preventing danger from lead paint to persons employed in or in connection with the painting of buildings, and in particular—

  1. (a) for prohibiting the use of any lead compound except in the form of paste or of paint ready for use;
  2. (b) for the prevention of danger arising from the application of lead paint in the form of spray;
  3. (c) for prohibiting dry rubbing down and scraping;

LORD ASKWITH moved to add to paragraph (c) of subsection (1) the words "of all painted surfaces containing or imposed on lead paint." The noble Lord said: I placed this Amendment on the Paper partly to get round the argument that the words previously put down were not altogether suitable and chiefly to inquire from my noble friend whether he was able to answer the question I put to him as to the alteration in more drastic form of the Regulations to be made under the Bill. I am not satisfied with the words which provide that the employer shall satisfy himself that there is no lead paint in the coats on the surface that is being painted, and I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 16, at end insert ("of all painted surfaces containing or imposed on lead paint").—(Lord Askwith.)


I am very much obliged to my noble friend for having put this Amendment in the manner in which it stands on the Paper and I can assure him that the Home Office will do all in its power to meet the point he has raised. They duly appreciate its importance. The Regulations with regard to this Bill have already been considered by the parties concerned—that is, by the employers and the employees. But I understand from my noble friend that he is not quite satisfied with certain words from which it will appear that the employer has to satisfy himself that there is no lead paint which comes into any coat or under-coat on the surface that will be dealt with. The Home Office are not satisfied themselves with the word "satisfied," and they are willing to put in such words, if they can be devised, as will meet the object of the Home Office and of my noble friend. I understand in those circumstances that my noble friend is willing not to press his Amendment, which the Home Office seem to think is already covered by the Bill as it stands. But they are certainly very desirous to meet him on the point he has raised and they hope he will give them all the assistance in his power to enable them to do so.


In reply to my noble friend and in consideration of what he has said, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2:

Prohibition of employment of women and young persons in painting buildings with lead paint.

2. On and after the nineteenth day of November, nineteen hundred and twenty-seven, it shall not be lawful to employ any woman or young person in painting any part of a building with lead paint:

Provided that this section shall not apply to the employment of

  1. (a) persons employed as apprentices in the painting trade under arrangements approved by an Order of the Secretary of State made after consultation with the organisations, if any, representative of the employers and workers in the trade; or
  2. 844
  3. (b) women or young persons in such special decorative or other work (not being work of an industrial character) as may be excluded from the provisions of this section by an Order of the Secretary of State.

VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME moved to add to the clause:— or (c) women who at the passing of this Act are employed in any trade which involves as part of their occupation such painting as aforesaid. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I do not propose to trouble your Lordships with the first Amendment which stands in my name on the Paper and which proposed to add to that part of the clause which precedes the proviso, the following words: "save those who have been so employed before the passing of this Act." Those words would have followed the word "person." It has been pointed out to me that a difficulty would arise if those words were inserted in the case, say, of a woman who had been employed in the industry ten years previously. My second Amendment appears to me to cover almost the same point and to be free from the objection I have mentioned. I understand that the Home Office is prepared to accept it, and I feel sure that the women affected will feel most grateful to His Majesty's Government. I beg, therefore, to move.

Amendment moved— Clause 2, page 2, line 28, at end insert the said words.—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)


My Lords, I am very much obliged to the noble Viscount for having, rather at the instance of the Home Office, altered his Amendment. As it stood first of all women would have been excepted who had been employed—that is, in painting surfaces—before the passing of this Act. That might really have included almost any woman at almost any time who said she had been employed in this manner. The Amendment suggested by the Home Office, which my noble friend has been willing to accept, limits it to the time of the passing of the Act— women who at the passing of this Act are employed in any trade which involves as part of their occupation such painting as aforesaid. There is a precedent for that arising out of the Convention which was passed by the Labour Conference on very similar lines in the year 1920, which limits the application of the Regulations very much as it is proposed to limit them now—namely, to those who are actually employed, and whom you can ascertain as being so employed, at the passing of the Act. The measure to which I refer is the Employment of Women, Young Persons, and Children Act, 1920, which states in Clause 3, subsection (3)— Nothing in this Act shall prevent the employment in any industrial undertaking or ship of a child lawfully so employed at the commencement of this Act. This Amendment will follow on the lines of that Act and women who are actually employed at the time will be exempted from its operation. In those circumstances the Home Office are willing to accept the Amendment as moved by my noble friend.


My Lords, I confess I am surprised that the Government has notified that it will accept this Amendment in this form or in any form, because, surely, it is very late in the day to make this change. The point has not been raised until the Third Reading when it might have been perfectly well raised earlier. We were told on the occasion of the Committee stage that the Government were not prepared to insert an Amendment. We were told that if an Amendment was inserted it would create great difficulties in another place when the Bill went back there.


I think that was applied to the noble Lord's Amendment, which was contrary to the Second Reading of the Bill.


This Amendment, as I understand it, is contrary to the Convention on which the Bill is founded. It is certainly not consistent with the main tenet of the Bill, which is that lead paint poisoning can cause great harm and is especially bad for women. That is the Government's position; they cannot deny it, because we debated that last week and they pressed it very strongly and would not budge. Now they do budge from that as far as women are concerned, and I confess I think that is an extraordinary thing to do at this late hour.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Bill passed, with the Amendment, and retuned to the Commons.