HC Deb 23 December 1915 vol 77 cc626-7W
Mr. H. LAW

asked the Under-Secretary for War whether Army contracts as at present drawn up prevent Irish manufacturers from sending out any portion of the goods to outworkers in country districts; whether he is aware that in certain districts a large number of women and girls are largely dependent on the earnings of home-work; and whether the rule may be relaxed, having regard to the protection against sweating given to such workers by the time and piece rates now fixed by the Shirt Trade Board (Ireland)?


This question has recently been under consideration, and it has been decided, in view of the special conditions prevailing in the shirt-making trade in the North of Ireland, not to prohibit the employment of outworkers in that district.


asked the Under-Secretary for War whether he is aware that the War Office has recently communicated with some of the Irish shirt manufacturers requesting tenders for collecting, laying, cutting out, stamping, rolling, and redelivering material for 500,000 flannel shirts; whether previous contracts have always been for the making of complete shirts; whether it has been represented to him that if the former practice is discontinued it may be necessary for many of the Irish manufacturers to dismiss a number of the women and girls employed or to close their factories altogether; and whether, in view of the fact that much suffering and distress is likely to follow from this, the old practice will be resumed and continued?


The work for which tenders have been invited is the cutting, etc., of the material for 500,000 flannel shirts which are to be made up by members of the Garrison Needlework Associations. Ordinarily, the work of cutting the material for shirts made up by these associations is carried out at the Royal Army Clothing Factory, but in the exceptional pressure at present prevailing it has been found necessary to ask contractors to undertake some of this work. The 500,000 shirts in question are not in diminution of the number to be placed with trade firms, so that the action taken, while giving additional work to trade cutters, will not decrease employment in the shirt-making industry.