HC Deb 31 May 1916 vol 82 cc2739-40W

asked the Home Secretary if he has consented to the employment of women on the night-turn at the works of the Colonial Combing Company, Botany Mills, Keighley; whether he is aware that the women are working there from 5.15 p.m. to 5.55 a.m., with two intervals of half-an-hour for meals, making a working period of 11 hours and 40 minutes; if he is aware that there is no proper provision at the mills in question for warming and cooking food nor is there proper provision for washing, soap, or towels; that the sanitary arrangements and ventilation are poor; and that on the night of 22nd May, when the temperature outside the works was 63 degrees Fahrenheit at 5 p.m. and 58 degrees at 9.35 p.m., the inside temperature was as follows at the times mentioned, namely, 5.30 p.m. 90 degrees, 6.45 p.m. 89 degrees, 8 p.m. 89 degrees, and 9.20 p.m. 90 degrees; whether he is aware that there was no woman supervisor present on the date mentioned; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?


This company applied for permission to employ women on the night shift at their mills, and, in view of the urgent nature of the work, have been provisionally allowed to do so pending a settlement of the general question of night employment of women in woolcombing: sheds. The Home Office fully recognises the importance of securing satisfactory conditions of work if employment on the night shift in this industry is to be allowed, and, after conference with the employers' and workers' representatives, certain requirements have been formulated which any firms authorised to employ women on the night shift would be required to observe. These conditions provide that the period of employment on the night shift shall not exceed the period of twelve hours allowed by the Act for the day workers, and that proper arrangements shall be made for the supervision of the women, for separate and adequate messing and washing accommodation and for the maintenance of the temperature below a specified standard. The inspector states that at a recent inspection of the mills in question the general conditions including temperature were found to be satisfactory, but I am asking him to report in detail as to the firm's compliance with the special requirements.