Orders of the Day — FACTORY AND WORKSHOP (COTTON CLOTH FACTORIES) BILL [Lords].

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 15th March 1929.

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The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Lieut.-Colonel Sir Vivian Henderson):

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

The object of this Bill is to enable effect to be given to the Report of a Departmental Committee. Artificial humidification in cotton cloth factories is at present governed by regulations made under a Bill passed in 1911, which in its turn was also founded on a Report of a Departmental Committee. This question has been the subject of controversy for a matter of 50 years. In the Report of 1911, the workers' representatives made a reservation to the effect that they considered artificial humidification should be totally abolished, or, if that was not possible, that the matter should be reconsidered in three years' time. Unfortunately, the War supervened, and the question was not reopened until some time after the end of the War, when the trade conferences were resumed. At the last trade conference, held in 1924, it was agreed that the then Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. A. Henderson), should be asked to appoint another Departmental Committee to go into this question. He did, and I am glad that that Committee, which was fully representative of both sides and also of the technical side, after three years' careful inquiry came to the conclusion that there was no evidence that employment in humidification sheds gave rise to more sickness than employment in non-humidification sheds, but they unanimously agreed on various amendments to the existing Regulations which would do much to reduce the serious discomfort to which the workers in humidification sheds were exposed. I hope that the result of this Committee's recommendations will lead to a final settlement of this vexed question.