asked the Minister of Labour whether he has satisfied himself, on investigation, as to whether the law on the basis of which other Governments have ratified the Hours Convention is or is not adequate; and, if the law is considered inadequate, whether he has made any representation to such Governments to the effect that, on the strength of such a law, His Majesty's Government would not feel entitled to ratify the Hours Convention?
As I have from time to time explained to the House, one of the most serious obstacles in the way of ratification of the Washington Convention lies in the different interpretations which are placed upon a number of its provisions. The London Conference last year cleared up some of these differences, but in ray view further examination of the situation is necessary before a position satisfactory to this country can be reached. I would remind the hon. Member that the responsibility for seeing that the law in any given country is in accordance with a Convention that has been ratified rests with the Government of that country.
If there were any complaint, from whatever quarter, raised in regard to Belgium, it would have to be raised under Part XIII of the Peace Treaty and laid in accordance with the provisions of that Part of the Treaty. It is precisely that kind of difficulty which makes me anxious that we should know our own position quite clearly and get other nations to come to agreement, before any Convention is entered into by us.
Is it a fact, that in case a nation ratifies a Convention and has reason to believe that another nation which has also ratified that Convention is not carrying it out, the nation which has the allegation to make can lay it directly before the League of Nations and have it investigated?
The procedure, with which doubtless the right hon. Gentleman is familiar, is in accordance with Part XIII of the Peace Treaty. I am speaking off-hand, but, if I remember aright, while it provides in the first instance for a Commission of Inquiry appointed by the League of Nations, in the end the matter would have to be settled by the Permanent Court. I speak subject to correction.
Is it a fact that, during a meeting between the Labour Ministers of several countries, the French Minister expressly stated that, in case a complaint were made against the administration in France of a Convention ratified by France, they understood that a case would he taken to the League of Nations for investigation?