§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
My Lords, you have just passed a Bill which I have no doubt, had it been introduced in the last century, would have been rejected. I am now asking your Lordships to give a Second Reading to a Bill in the same way, although I am also equally confident that, had it been introduced in the last century, it would certainly have been rejected then. I was reading this morning the early history of the Factory Acts and the conditions under which children and young persons as well as adults were expected to work at the beginning and in the middle of the last century. I can only describe the conditions which then existed as appalling and shocking. It seems to us inconceivable to-day that the various Bills which were brought forward step by step to put things right, to give children a decent and a reasonable chance of beginning their lives, should have met with opposition and obstruction whenever they were brought before Parliament.
Your Lordships are well aware that what we call the Factory Acts and the Shop Assistants Acts have now given a great measure of protection to those employed in industry. They were brought forward to protect health, to preserve the constitution against injury. They were brought forward to do away with the economic evil of child labour. It is very interesting to note the experience of the War. When the War started, there was a general tendency to increase the number of hours worked in factories because of the general desire to increase the output of munitions, but as a result of experience as the War went on, it was found that excessively long hours were industrially unsound, that one got a reduced output, a diminished efficiency. As a result of that experience, the Home Office published a Report—I think it was 249 published in 1922—pointing out that, as a result of the War experience, the working week had been voluntarily reduced to something like forty-four to forty-eight hours a week and that certain legislation had had to be passed in order to protect juveniles.
I am bringing forward this small Bill to-day to deal with a gap which exists between the protection afforded to juveniles by the Education Acts and the protection afforded by the Factory and the Shop Hours Acts. So long as children are at school, they are protected by the Education Acts. When they go into regular industry, they are protected by the Factory Acts. But there is a gap in between, mainly between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, and in some cases between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, where children (I shall quote cases in a minute) are undoubtedly exploited and undoubtedly exposed to excessively long hours, particularly in what are called non-industrial occupations. I was amazed when I made inquiries to find the number of children who to-day are unprotected. It is something like 400,000. There are 186,000 in transport and communications, van boys and messenger boys. There are nearly 250,000 indoor servants in hotels and clubs, non-residential, and there are about 7,000 connected with entertainment. As was pointed out by the London County Council, the Shop Hours Act of 1912 deprived a certain number of young persons of a protection which, up to that time, they had possessed. The definition of "shop assistant" deprived page boys, messenger boys and juveniles in refreshment houses of a protection which up to that time had been given to them.
I have a large number of cases indicating the sort of conditions that exist to-day. I am not going to attempt to read them all, but I will just quote one or two to indicate to your Lordships the sort of problem we are trying to deal with. I will take first the case of a girl shop assistant aged seventeen coming on duty at 7.30 in the morning and only going away at 11 o'clock at night with intervals for meals. It is not very surprising that not very long after that girl was found to be hopelessly consumptive. The next case is that of a tea room assistant aged eighteen working sixty-six 250 hours per week. The next is that of a van boy supposed to work from 8.30 a.m. until 6, but practically always on duty from 8 o'clock in the morning until 8.30 at night, in theory working forty-eight hours a week, in fact working nearly sixty-six. The only other case I shall quote is one which was given me this morning of a boy aged seventeen employed in a cinema starting at 8.30 a.m., working till 11.30, then off duty from 11.30 to 12.30, then on duty until 11 o'clock at night. That boy has a half-day off one day a week. On Saturdays he works until midnight and on Sundays comes on duty at 4.30 in the afternoon and stays on all the evening.
I venture to suggest that that is a sort of employment which we ought not to allow. Just as we passed the Factory Acts to prevent the exploitation of adults, to prevent them being compelled to work excessively long hours, so it is now our duty to protect young persons from similar exploitation. There are two ways in which we could have proceeded. We could have brought in a Bill asking for a general Order dealing with conditions of employment on a uniform basis over the whole country. The alternative was to proceed by by-law. After going into the matter, we decided to proceed by by-law and we are doing so because then we are following the precedent which exists in this country. Your Lordships probably know that street trading—trading in matches, newspapers, flowers and that sort of thing—has been dealt with by by-law. Local authorities have been empowered to deal with this as local conscience and public interest induce them to go ahead. I have in my hand a report of a recent Conference held under the auspices of the International Labour Office dealing with the age of admission of children to employ. ment in non-industrial occupations. It is there pointed out that:—Regulation by by-laws appears to be more developed in the British Empire than elsewhere. Enabling provisions concerning by-laws were found in practically all the British laws studied.Here is another extract from that report:The latest published data concerning the extent to which local authorities have taken advantage of their power to make by-laws show that in 1924, of the 317 local authorities affected in England and Wales, 251 all but twelve had made by-laws, and that of these twelve only five had definitely decided that they would not use their powers.That is to say, I am inviting your Lordships to proceed according to the precedent adopted by enabling local authorities to deal with the matter rather than to do it by general Order.
There is one other rather interesting precedent. Last year an Act was passed called the Liverpool Corporation (General Powers) Act, Clause 33 of which deals with the employment of young persons in errand work. Under Clause 33, the Corporation are allowed tomake by-laws for regulating the conditions of employment of young persons (not being persons whose hours of employment are regulated by the Factory and Workshop Acts 1901 to 1920) … for any period of time during which they are employed occupied either in or about the delivery, collection or transport of goods …and so on. That is to say that Liverpool, by a Private Act passed last year, obtained such powers as I have ventured to suggest might he suitable for any large authority. In proceeding by by-laws, I am following the precedence that exists.
Let me say just a word about the history of this Bill. It was introduced first in the House of Commons in 1923 by Lord Henry Bentinck and other members, but it was not passed. In 1924 it obtained a Second Beading. I brought it before your Lordships' House in 1926. We had a very interesting discussion on it, and the noble Lord, Lord Deshorough, then speaking on behalf of the Home Office, indicated that the Government proposed itself to deal with the matter. Perhaps I may quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT, dated a few months later, a statement made by the noble Earl, Lord Plymouth, in reply to a Question I put to him as to what the Government intended to do. The noble Earl said:Lord Desborough, who then replied for the Home Office, said that the Government would take the matter up at the earliest opportunity: that is, the question of juveniles employed in those employments which are unregulated by Statutes.In reply to a further intervention on my part, the noble Earl added:All I can do is to assure the noble Viscount that as soon as the state of business permits the Home Office intend to take this 252 matter up and deal with it as they promised.That was the statement made by the representative of the Conservative Government in 1926. After that, I had some informal negotiations with the Home Office and, as a result of those discussions, the Bill was re-drafted. I now bring it. before your Lordships as amended during those private and informal conversations.
Let me now go through the Bill and explain its clauses. Clause 1 enables bylaws to be made. It is taken practically verbatim from the Act of 1921, and the meaning is quite clear. Clause 2 brings the Home Office in. The Home Office has to hear appeals, if any, to hold inquiries, if it is thought desirable, and to confirm by-laws so as to get uniformity, and to see that vexatious orders are not brought forward. By Clause 3 the local authority has to consult with the education authorities who have been hitherto concerned with the young persons. I do not think I need say anything about Clause 4, but Clause 5 deals with penalties, with a maximum fine of 40s. I think the next clause that will interest your Lordships is Clause 7. This has been re-drafted since the Bill was last before your Lordships' House. It sets out specifically the forms of employment that are excluded from the operation of the Bill. Your Lordships will see that it is not proposed to apply this Bill to juveniles employed in agriculture, domestic service, in offices, shops or in building. Clause 8 deals with local authorities, and the term is defined to apply to the secondary education authorities—that is the councils of counties and county boroughs, numbering 122 altogether. I think I have now explained the clauses of the Bill.
There is a great measure of support for this Bill. Only the other day the Education Committee of the London County Council passed a resolution stating that they were of opinion that the Council should support this Bill. Were it necessary, I could quote many other local authorities who are also supporting the Bill that is now before your Lordships. I will say only one more word. I do not think a Bill on these lines can be accused by anybody, however opposed he may be to it, of retarding the industrial recovery of this country. I hope very much that your Lordships will approve 253 of the general principles contained in this Bill, and I beg to move that it be now read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a. (Viscount Astor.)
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM, who had given Notice that on the Motion for the Second Reading he would move, That the Bill be read 2a this day six months, said: My Lords, the noble Viscount who has just sat down informed us that he had brought this Bill forward on many occasions, that it had always been rejected and that, if it had been brought forward last year, he was quite certain that it would have been rejected again.
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
I do not know why it is supposed that your Lordships have less common sense than you had last year, and have now become foolish people, ready to pass Bills of this sort. What does the Bill propose to do? It proposes to enable local authorities to make by-laws—
Then it is said, in the Definition Clause, that young persons are men and women under the age of eighteen years.
- "(i) prescribing for all young persons and with respect to all or any particular occupations to which this Act applies—
- (a) the age below which employment is illegal; and
- (b) the hours between which employment is illegal; and
- (c) the number of daily and weekly hours beyond which employment is illegal:
- (ii) prohibiting absolutely or permitting, subject to conditions, the employment of young persons in any particular occupation to which this Act applies."
What does that mean? It means this, and this only: that, in the opinion of the noble Viscount, the father and mother of a girl or boy of seventeen are not fit persons to decide what occupation that girl or boy should follow; but that a local authority, which knows nothing whatever about either the father, the mother, or the boy or girl, is fit to make that decision. Just see what might happen. Mr. Jones, we will presume, has a son and daughter, one being seventeen and three-quarters and the other nearly seventeen. The son and daughter desire to do something—a not unnatural desire, especially at the present moment, 254 when it is necessary that everybody should do their best to restore this country to the prosperity that it once enjoyed. Mr. Jones agrees, Mrs. Jones agrees, and the young people agree, but in comes the local authority and says: "No, we do not think you ought to do that, and if you do you must work for only a certain time and in a particular occupation. "The result is that the son and daughter are expected to follow that occupation. Mr. Jones gets elected to a county council and, though he was unfit to say what his own children might do, simply because he has become a member of a county council he can say what other people's children may do. Anything more absurd I cannot conceive. County councils and local authorities generally are made to look after the drains, the sewers and to see that the roads are kept in good order. They are not supposed to be people who are so gifted with common sense and knowledge of the world that they are able to decide what other people's children may do.
The noble Viscount instanced a certain case where a boy or girl (I forgot which he said) was employed in a shop and worked for certain long hours; but the noble Viscount forgets Clause 7, which exempts shops from the Bill. Therefore if this Bill is passed the instance which he gave will not be affected at all, because shops are exempted. As far as I understand the Bill, it will prevent anybody going into the Navy, because it says "the expression employ ' includes employment in any labour exercised by way of trade or for the purposes of gain. "if you go into the Navy you certainly gain something because you are paid something. I think the Bill also would prevent anybody going into the Army, because you certainly are paid if you do. and there are many cases where recruits are taken at the age of seventeen and a half. Then there is the extraordinary Clause 3, which says that the local authority shall consult with the body responsible in its area for elementary education. What does that mean? Is that a side issue to enable children to be kept longer at school? a, matter which your Lordships rejected a very short time ago. Why bring in the education authority? What do they know about it?
255 Then subsection (3) of Clause 2 says this—that there is to be an inquiry, and that the person who holds that inquiry shall receive such remuneration as the Secretary of State may determine. More money is to be spent at a time when we ought not only not to spend but endeavour to save money. I read with very great pleasure a speech made the other day by Lord Hailsham, on the Education (School Attendance) Bill, in which he stated that, however good a thing might be, at the present moment we ought not to spend money upon it because we cannot afford to do so. Here we are going to spend more money and have more inquiries, in order to do something which to my mind is utterly wrong. The noble Viscount said that the Shop Acts already gave protection to women and children. I am all in favour of giving protection to women and children. I do not know about women now, because they have got the vote. It would be different if they had been kept in the position in which I think they ought to have been kept—namely, that of looking after the home. Now they are the equal, if not the superior of men, and I do not see any point in carrying special legislation for them. If everything is so satisfactory then why alter it? If there are already these laws which protect children what do we want more laws for? Surely we have enough laws at present. In my opinion we have too many already, and would be happier if we had not so many. The noble Viscount has always held the view that he and his friends—he said "we." I do not know who "we" is. Is it some society?
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
The noble Viscount is always anxious to manage other people's affairs. He thinks people ought not to drink and so there must be a Bill giving local authorities power to say whether we shall drink or not. Now he brings in a Bill to say whether we shall work or not, and to enable the local authority to enforce it. We were once a free country. Let us remain a free country and let parents have the responsibility which it is intended they should exercise. Let them decide what their children shall do, and 256 not people elected for other objects and for other reasons. I beg to move.
Leave out ("now") and at end of the Motion insert ("this day six months").—(Lord Banbury of Southam.)
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK
My Lords, the speech to which we have just listened from the noble Lord might equally have been delivered against any proposals for factory legislation which have been made at any time during the last twelve years. That speech would have applied quite equally against legislation to protect young children and women from working these excessively long hours in the factories. The noble Lord says that already there is legislation in existence, and that this ought to apply to those whom we desire to protect by this Bill. Well, it does not, and that is the whole case for this Bill. There are a certain number of boys engaged in certain unorganised and other trades who are not protected, to-day, so far as the hours of labour are concerned, by any kind of legislation whatever. I know that it is sometimes said that these are only a few exceptional cases and hardly worth while introducing a Bill to deal with. As a matter of fact there are to-day a very large number, both of boys and girls, who are worked not only excessively long hours but sometimes very late.
Four or five years ago an investigation was taken in Bethnal Green by Sir Wyndham Deedes with regard to 200 boys and 200 girls who had left school two years before. They were all of the age of sixteen, and among the boys it was found that 95 were working from 50 to 54 hours per week, 94 from 54 to 68 hours, and 49 from 58 to 74 hours per week. Only a few days ago I heard of a boy in one of our London clubs who had to give up work in the club because he was working as a van boy from 7.30 in the morning—he had to leave home at a quarter to seven—until 10.30 at night. I have other cases like that. of boys working these excessively long hours. There is no legislation whatever to-day which will protect them from these hours. How can these boys have opportunities of either recreation or education? Most of these boys are working in what is called blind-alley employment. Such employment is justifiable provided 257 there is sufficient time given for the boy to learn some trade which will be useful later in life, but when you have them working these excessively long hours it is impossible for them to have either education or recreation.
In addition to this there are many boys—not, of course, so many—who are working very late hours. A number of quite young boys are employed in places of amusement in London. Their hours are not so long, but are very late. In one case I know of two boys, one of fourteen and his brother of sixteen, who are working in music halls in London and who return home after twelve o'clock every night. The noble Lord who has just spoken has told us that parents ought to deal with these matters. If the noble Lord had a closer acquaintance with the actual conditions of life among the very poor in working-class families he would know that after boys have left school at fourteen their parents have comparatively little authority over them. Boys are allowed very largely to go their own ways, and, of course, where the need of money is so great it is very hard indeed sometimes for a parent to take a strong line, if a boy without sufficient thought has committed himself to some work for which he gets fairly good wages but which means excessively long hours. These long hours mean real suffering in health and real waste of life. No doubt there may be various Amendments which ought to be made in the Bill, but I hope your Lordships will give it a Second Reading. Two or three weeks ago this House rejected a Bill for extending the age of education. If that Bill had been passed it would have protected some of these boys, at any rate from excessively long hours; but that Bill was rejected, almost entirely on the ground of national finance. This Bill will not cost the nation large sums of money, and I hope, in the interest of these boys, it may be passed.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (LORD MARLEY)
My Lords, perhaps at this juncture I should indicate the attitude of the Government towards this Bill. I am quite sure that all of your Lordships who desire the good of the children will support the principles of this measure. Perhaps I should remind the House that this matter has been under consideration for a great 258 many years. There was a Departmental Committee, appointed as long ago as 1913—The Van-boys and Warehouse Boys Committee—which reported on the conditions of those boys at that time, and which showed that they worked as many as sixty, seventy, and even up to seventy-five hours a week, and that many of those boys did not get home from their work until eleven or twelve o'clock at night. The conditions have not sensibly altered in that respect, though there may have been in some directions an amelioration. As a result of that Departmental Committee, a Bill to deal with the question was introduced by the Home Office in 1913; and again in 1919, after the War, further proposals were made, and then a large number of Private Members' Bills were put forward, as indicated by the noble Viscount in moving the Second Reading of this Bill.
We have got a great deal more direct information on this matter from various inquiries which have been made by the Ministry of Labour. These inquiries have been based on information furnished by the labour exchanges throughout the country, and they showed that the conditions of these young persons are still very far from satisfactory. They indicate particularly that regulation is required to make more satisfactory conditions among programme and chocolate sellers, among page-boys and attendants in cinemas, call boys, pages and lift boys in clubs and hotels, and kitchen hands. The Ministry of Labour is now about to undertake a special inquiry as to the hours and conditions obtaining in cinemas, and, as a matter of fact, the Ministry of Labour has also invited the National Advisory Council for juvenile employment to undertake a comprehensive investigation as regards several other occupations.
The conditions among van-boys indicate that large numbers of boys leaving school are employed in that occupation, and there is no lack of evidence that the hours and conditions of employment are extremely unsatisfactory. Not only are the hours too long, but they are irregular, and very often it is the case, according to the Ministry of Labour's inquiries, that twelve and fourteen hours a day are being worked by these boys between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. As the right rev. Prelate has 259 pointed out, it is peculiarly a blind-alley occupation, and in that connection assistance and regulation are particularly required. It is perfectly true that in cinemas and theatres, or rather among programme sellers, the hours are not so long, but again they are very late at night, and they do interfere with part-time and further education, and it is important in a democracy that the maximum possible education should be made available for the children who are growing up to be our future men and women citizens. That is a peculiar reason why boys like pages and lift boys should have their hours of work regulated; and this is also the case with girls employed as kitchen hands. They have heavy work to do, long and late hours, and it, is definitely found that their health tends to suffer.
The Government, therefore, fully realises the need for legislation on this subject. It is entirely in sympathy with the proposals contained in this Bill. Provisions which, in fact, are identical with the clauses of this Bill, are being included in a new Bill, which is now practically complete and practically ready for introduction, to deal with the employment of children and young persons. The drafting of that Bill, as I say, is practically complete, but, owing to the exceptionally heavy demands on Government time, no opportunity so far has been found for actually introducing it. But the Government is particularly anxious to introduce this Bill as soon as possible, and in view of the assurance that its terms are identical with those of the Bill now before your Lordships' House, it is felt that perhaps we should await the introduction of the Government's Bill. Nevertheless, I may say that the Government is very willing to support the Second Reading of this Bill, in order to procure an expression of opinion, which we feel certain must be one of approval from your Lordships. It is understood that, in view of the actual proposals in the new Children's and Young Persons Bill the House will not be asked to proceed with any further stages of this Bill, provided your Lordships give it a Second Reading. I trust, therefore, that it will receive support along those lines.
§ VISCOUNT BRENTFORD
My Lords, until the noble Lord opposite spoke, I felt in some difficulty as to what course 260 your Lordships ought to take in regard to this Bill. The Children's and Young Persons Bill, to which the noble Lord has referred, is one which came before me when I was Secretary of State for the Home Department. It is, in effect, an effort to bring what is known as the "Children's Charter" up to modern times and modern requirements. That Bill was not drafted in my time, but there were very many inquiries made by the officers of my Department, particularly in regard to this grave question of van-boys, which is, I think, a matter which most urgently calls for legislation. I was satisfied at that time—and I see no reason to alter my opinion—that there is a very real difficulty in regard to the long hours, the too long hours, worked by these lads who are engaged in what is, after all, a blind-alley employment. I wish it were possible to provide some means of taking them from the position of van-boys into some decent occupation, where they could remain for years, or for life. At present it is, more definitely almost than in any other occupation, a blind-alley employment, and apart altogether from the question of length of hours it is, from every point of view, an undesirable occupation for any lad to get into, if he can possibly get into a better one.
The noble Lord opposite has told us that that Bill which was on the stocks two years ago, when the Government of which I was a member was in office, is now about to be introduced, and he has also told us that the Ministry of Labour is making a further inquiry in regard to some of these questions, and I venture to suggest to my noble friend Lord Astor that he should accept the suggestion made by the Government and allow this Bill to have a Second Reading on condition that it does not go any further. I really think, and I suggest to your Lordships, that a matter of this kind is not one which should be dealt with by private legislation, but one that the Government should deal with. With great respect to my noble friend, I suggest that the points included in this Bill are only a very small number of those which will be included, as I understand it, in the larger Bill, if, that is to say, that larger Bill is anything like the Bill which I had under consideration two years ago. It would be a pity to pass the very few points contained in this 261 Bill and possibly militate against the passing of the larger Bill which the noble Lord, Lord Marley, tells us will be brought forward.
If I may respectfully say so to him, it is more important to bring forward a Bill of this character than to waste the most useful time of the Government on Bills such as we now see drifting about in another place. If the Government had not produced one or two of the Bills that seem to be getting on the rocks there they might have had ample time to bring forward this useful Bill. In the circumstances, I venture to hope that my noble friend will accept the suggestion of the Government and that the new Bill when brought forward may be very fully considered by a Committee of your Lordships' House, than whom nobody is better able or better qualified to arrive at a just determination as to what is required, on the one hand, in the interests of the young people without, on the other hand, injuring the interests of the community as a whole.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
My Lords, when I was in the House of Commons it was said that when the Front Benches agreed it was quite certain that they were wrong. That is a general maxim which the noble Viscount who has just addressed the House may often have heard when he was a Back Bencher. I hesitate to say that is so on the present occasion. At the same time it, seems to me a little odd that we should not put this Bill through this House, assuming that your Lordships are in favour of it. That, of course, will not pass it into law. It will still have to go through another place. We are told that the reason why we should not do it is that there is a larger Bill, a Government Bill, which is on the point of being introduced. I am afraid I have known many cases where a Bill in March was on the point of being introduced but did not obtain the Royal Assent that year. All sorts of things may happen. The time, we are told, is very congested in the other House and it may well be that it will not be possible to put it through.
We are told also that time is so congested that it has not been possible to introduce it yet. That is not very encouraging, and I cannot help thinking that it would be better to have this 262 Bill ready to put through another place in case the larger Bill fails. I agree that if the larger Bill succeeds—I do not know it at all, but my noble friend Lord Brentford has said that it is a good Bill—and the Government are prepared—
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
Still, my noble friend is very anxious to have it introduced and I dare say he is quite right. Nor do I dissent at all from his proposition that matters of this kind are better dealt with by a Government Bill than by a Private Member's Bill. Still we have to take precautions and it is clear, in spite of the noble Lord, Lord Banbury, that an overwhelming case has been made for this change in some form or another. Listening to the right rev. Prelate I could not conceive that anyone could doubt that some such Bill ought to be placed upon the Statute Book. Cannot we take all the precautions possible in order to secure that this change at any rate will be made this year? The Bill evidently cannot go through another place unless the Government take it up, but if the Government find that they cannot get their larger Bill through, it will give them an opportunity at any rate to carry out this small reform. I need not say that I shall not press my views further than to make this appeal to the Front Benches. If they could see their way to accept not only the Second Reading but the other stages of this Bill, it seems to me we should be taking the more prudent course, since, with a small number of exceptions, we are all in favour of legislation of this kind being put upon the Statute Book.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
My Lords, may I deal with one or two of the points which have been made in the course of the discussion? My noble friend Lord Brentford referred to the fact that it was better that such a proposal as this should be dealt with in a Government Bill and, after hearing the spokesman for the 263 Government, he indicated that a Bill would be shortly introduced. Like my noble friend Lord Cecil, I have heard these promises before. I read out the promise which was made in 1926—I am not sure whether my noble friend was at the Home Office then—giving an assurance that a Bill dealing with this question was going to be introduced almost at once. That is five years ago. The noble Viscount also said it was a good Bill. It has had five years scrutiny and examination and I hope now that it is an even better Bill.
The noble Lord who spoke for the Government has assured us that it is the intention of the Government to bring in a more comprehensive Bill almost at once. In view of that statement and in view of the fact that obviously a Government Bill would have a far better chance, not only of being dealt with satisfactorily here but of going through another place, I am quite prepared to accept the noble Lord's suggestion that a Second Reading should be given to this measure in order to show that we approve the principle, and I will give an undertaking not to ask your Lordships to carry the Bill any further, but to wait till the Government bring in their Bill.
I do not know whether it is necessary for me to deal with the objections brought forward by my noble friend Lord Banbury because, unlike so many of his speeches, in the speech we listened to to-day he was mistaken in many of his facts. The noble Lord said that local authorities deal with sewers and roads but not with the employment of juveniles. In the Act of 1920—
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
No. I said that is what they ought to do, and that is what they were originally instituted for.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
Then he seemed to fear that the future of the British Navy might be endangered if this Bill was passed. If he has any genuine fear in that regard perhaps he will move an Amendment on the Committee stage. I do not—
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
The noble Lord also dealt With the question of trade recovery. It really is ridiculous to suggest that because we try to prevent lift boys and page boys in hotels and clubs and messenger boys from being overworked and exploited, we shall delay by one day or one hour the trade recovery we are all praying for. I could understand the noble Lord, Lord Banbury, asking your Lordships to repeal the Factory Acts or doing something of that sort. That would be a courageous measure and he might be able to justify it. But surely there is nothing glorious in trying to refuse protection to juveniles against exploitation and trying to prevent their having the same protection which we have all agreed should be given to adults. It would be deplorable indeed if your Lordships were either to reject this Bill or to vote in any considerable numbers against it. I sincerely hope, in view of the statement made by the spokesman of the Government that there is to be a larger Bill and my own undertaking, that a Second Reading may be given to this Bill.
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
My Lords, let us be quite certain where we are. Am I to understand that if no Division is taken the noble Viscount withdraws his Bill and that it does not go any further?
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
This is merely a gesture and it means nothing. After we have formally passed the Second Reading we go home and hear no more of it for this Session. Next Session it will have to be introduced again. Is that so?
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
In those circumstances, unless noble Lords wish to divide—I have no objection to dividing—as we really are making 265 nonsense of the thing and nothing will happen, I do not think it is necessary to go to the trouble of a Division.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.