HC Deb 25 May 1939 vol 347 cc2534-5W
Mr. Hamilton Kerr

asked the Home Secretary whether any estimate has been formed of the cost to the Lancashire cotton textile industry of carrying out the provisions of the new Factories Act; and whether he can give an assurance that factory inspectors will be instructed to have regard to the new commitments which have been imposed on the industry in connection with Civil Defence?

Mr. Peake

My right hon. Friend is advised that it would be extremely difficult to form anything like an accurate estimate, partly because the cost varies considerably as between one factory and another and partly owing to the difficulty of saying how much of the cost of improvements or replacements should be attributed to new legal rejuirements. It also has to be remembered that the Act was passed nearly two years ago and came into force last July; that a great deal has been done before and since then to bring factories into conformity with the new provisions, and that all the work necessary for the purpose should have been done already or should at least be in train. In cases where an employer has not yet fully complied, the course to be followed must depend on the circumstances, including the extent to which he has taken active steps to that end and the nature of the particular requirement with which he has not yet complied. I can assure my hon. Friend that the inspectors in dealing with a particular case would not overlook commitments in respect of Civil Defence requirements at the factory in question.

Mr. C. Brown

asked the Home Secretary what steps are taken by factory inspectors to ensure the provision of meal-room accommodation at factories where many employés, especially girls and women, are compelled to have their meals on, about, or near the factories at which they are employed?

Mr. Peake

The Factories Acts do not contain any requirement that meal-room accommodation must be provided at factories either generally or in the circumstances indicated in the question. Mess-rooms or other facilities for taking meals in the works are, however, required by the Act or Regulations for persons employed in various classes of work where, in view of the nature of the process, such accommodation is specially needed, and it is the practice to require messrooms or other facilities for meals as a condition of shift working under the Employment of Women and Young Persons Act, 1936. If the hon. Member has any particular cases in mind where special hardship is said to have arisen owing to the absence of facilities for taking meals in the works, and will send my right hon. Friend the details, my right hon. Friend will have them looked into and consider what can be done.