asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, under the Employment of Young Persons Act of 1920, which came into force on 1st July this year, the Scottish tube trade is seriously prejudiced consequent on youths of from 16 to 18 years of age not being allowed to work at night on such finishing processes as straightening, screwing and packing tubes, though they are allowed to be engaged on more strenuous work such as tending furnaces; and, seeing that Germany has not agreed to put similar restrictive provisions into force, will he consider the desirability of taking immediate steps to modify the Act?
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. The hon. and gallant Member is under some misapprehension. So far as tube works are concerned, the Act of 1920 came into force not on 1st July this year, but on the 1st January, 1921, and it made no alteration in existing requirements. Apart from War-time relaxations, employment at night of boys under 18 in this industry has been limited since May, 1913, to continuous processes in accordance with the unanimous recommendation of the Departmental Committee on Night Work of Boys. I have called for a report on the present position at these works, and when I get it I will consider whether any adjustment can be allowed which will prevent dislocation, but I am afraid that I cannot hold out hope of any modification of the existing law.
Will the right hon. Gentleman communicate that answer to the Scottish tube-makers, whose headquarters are in Glasgow, because what he has stated does not agree with what they have stated to me?