Mr. CATHCART WASON
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if, in view of the fact that the Secretary for Scotland has no authority to instruct his fishery officer to report to him on the conditions under which the girls employed in the herring-curing stations are said to carry on their work, exposed to wind and weather without shelter, and also their feet continually wet, he will have inquiry made at some of the principal curing stations from Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth northwards?
§ Mr. McKENNA
The conditions of work in this industry have received a great deal of attention from the Factory Department and the stations at which it is carried on are frequently visited by the inspectors. The powers of regulating the industry, as the Factory Act stands at present, are unfortunately limited, but the Department has done what it can to secure improvement in the conditions, and a series of conferences was arranged last year with the employers and workers for the purpose of considering the matter, at which a number of improvements were agreed to by the employers. These have been generally carried out during the past season to the great advantage of the workers. As regards the two points specially Mentioned in the question, I am afraid the nature of the industry makes it impracticable to avoid sonic degree of exposure to the weather, but the wet and muddy condition of the ground where the work is done has been a serious grievance at certain places, including Great Yarmouth. This is one of the matters for which provision has been made in the agreement with the employers. At Great Yarmouth, where the corporation is the owner of the ground, the Home Office has for a long time urged the corporation to remedy the grievance, and I am glad to be able to say that, according to the last Report which I have received, the corporation are now moving in the matter. The whole question will continue to receive my careful attention.