HC Deb 04 April 1917 vol 92 cc1323-4W

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, a boy named C. A. Cooper aged sixteen, being employed at a bakery, where he had to work eighteen hours per day, applied to the Lewisham Labour Exchange to procure him better employment in regard to hours; that he was told he should join the Navy, which he declined to do; that after an interval of six weeks he was put into communication with a society called the Boys' Country Work Society, whose chairman is Lord St. Levan; that Cooper was induced to sign a document agreeing to work until he was eighteen for a farmer named Parsons, Bray Farm, Hessenford, St. Germans, Cornwall; that this agreement contains clauses to the effect that the boy will not give notice to his master, but will ask the Hon. Mr. Hamilton. Trevean, Truro, Cornwall, to give notice for him, that he will not find a fresh situation or leave his situation without the knowledge of the honorary secretary; and that this document professes to be witnessed by a person named F. Schwager; whether he will state who the Hon. Mr. Hamilton and F. Schwager are; whether he is aware that Cooper paid for the whole of his clothing and outfit except his boots, the cost of which was to be deducted from his wages; that his wages were 5s. per week; that this boy was kept at work by Parsons from 5.30 a.m. till 10 to 10.30 p.m., with the result that on 28th March, the boy ran away and began to walk to London: whether he was discovered in a state of exhaustion near Dartmoor prison by one of the conscientious objectors interned there, and a collection was raised in Dartmoor prison to send the boy back to his home in London; whether he will undertake that the Labour Exchanges will be instructed to have nothing further to do with the Boys' Country Work Society or any similar body; and whether steps will be taken to limit the hours of work of boys of this age, in view of the state of facts disclosed in this case?


My right hon. Friend is having inquiries made into all the circumstances of the case and will communicate with the hon. Member.