HL Deb 16 July 1959 vol 218 cc74-5

My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what effect the regulations made under the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance which came into force on January 1, 1959, in the Colony of Hong Kong are having upon the pay and conditions of labour of men, women and children employed in the Colony.]


My Lords, the introduction of the regulations, which, as the noble Lord will know, apply to women and young persons, coincided with an expansion of trade and a rise in industrial employment. Hence it is impossible to estimate the effects of the regulations alone. Wage rates have tended to rise sufficiently to offset the effect of the shorter hours imposed by the regulations. Some part of the rise in the numbers in employment may also be due to the reduction in the hours of work of women and young persons over 16. Noble Lords may like to know that the owners of six cotton spinning mills employing 4,500 people have announced their intention of operating eight-hour shifts in place of twelve-hour shifts; and that in some cases men's hours of work have been reduced in line with the reduction of hours of work of women.


My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for that statement. Is it a fact that as a result of the regulations a large number of women have lost their employment and been rendered destitute? And would the noble Earl look at the question of applying these regulations to the men, because, as he said, there are no regulations as to hours of work, payment or anything else applying to men in the Colony?


My Lords, I am not aware that in the case of women a large number have lost their employment. My information is that employment has, on the whole, risen. In relation to men, certainly the Hong Kong Government have said that they look upon this as a first step in implementing the Government's policy of raising minimum standards of employment and so forth.