HC Deb 06 March 1947 vol 434 cc108-9W
Mr. Gooch

asked the Minister of Education whether he has yet come to a decision as to the employment of schoolchildren on the land again this year; and if he will state the terms and conditions governing such employment.

Mr. Tomlinson

Yes, Sir. After the fullest examination of the prospects and all the possibilities my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture is satisfied, and has satisfied me, that there is no alternative, if essential food supplies are to be maintained, to continuing the arrangements which have been in force during the last few years under Defence Regulations for the employment of school children in urgent seasonal agricultural work. My right hon. Friend and I have reached this decision only with the greatest reluctance. Local education authorities will accordingly be empowered, on representations from the county war agricultural executive committees, to exempt children with their parents' consent from school for this urgent work for not more than 20 half days in the year, a number which may only be exceeded with His Majesty's Inspector's special approval in circumstances of exceptional emergency. The minimum age at which these exemptions can be granted, which has hitherto been 12, will be increased to 13 when the compulsory school age is raised to 15 on 1st April. Conditions safeguarding the children's interests are prescribed in the Regulations covering such matters as hours of employment and wages, physical fitness, suitability of clothing, facilities for transport and such arrangements as may be practicable for the supervision of the children while at work.

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