HC Deb 02 July 1925 vol 185 cc2814-5W

asked the Minister of Health whether, under the Regulations made by his Ministry, stonepounding can be given to boys under 18 and men over 60; what steps are taken against a casual who refuses a task which is not suited to his age, strength or capacity; and whether instructions are given to the Poor Law inspectors to visit the casual wards and interfere if it is found that any such unsuitable tasks are being given?


The Regulations in force require that a casual shall be excused from the whole or any part of a task of work if it should appear that the task is not suited to his age, strength, or capacity. The casuals are not classified into definite age groups for this purpose, and my officers would certainly interfere in any case in which it was found, on their visits to the casual wards, that unsuitable tasks were being required.


asked the Minister of Health what were the tasks of stone-pounding authorised after the decision in Rex v. Baddeley in the several Berkshire unions, and the terms of the letters which authorised the task; whether the authorisations were preceded by applications from the guardians; and what were the respective grounds of their applications?


I will send the hon. Member a statement of the particulars for which he asks.

Captain GEE

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the proviso that a casual shall be excused from the whole or any part of a task, if it shall appear that the task is not suited to his age, strength or capacity, is not posted in the casual wards where, according to Article 17 of the Casual Poor (Relief) Order, 1925, the tasks should be posted; will he direct that this proviso shall also be posted; whether he is aware that, by giving the guardians entire discretion as to the hardness of the stone and size to which it is to be broken, he has given them power to make the task as hard as they choose, and so deter destitute wayfarers from applying for relief; that the decision whether the task is unfit for the casual is necessarily left to the labour master to decide, and that labour masters have no medical knowledge; and will he, therefore, prescribe that the stone shall not exceed a certain hardness and that the guardians shall not require it to be broken less than a certain size or, in the alternative, make the stonebreaking task one of time instead of amount, and so bring it into line with the other tasks of 1882?


I do not think it is necessary to require guardians to post in the casual wards the proviso referred to in the first two parts of the question. It is not practicable to prescribe a uniform hardness of stone or the size to which it is to be broken, and I cannot accept the implication that guardians would administer the Order with the object suggested in the third part of the question. With regard to the fourth part of the question, it is open to the master to consult the medical officer of the institution where necessary. With regard to the last part of the question, I would be prepared to give consideration to any proposals from a board of guardians that the task should be made a time task.