New Clause B. — (Power of local authority to make by-laws with respect to employment of juvenile persons.)

Part of Children and Young Persons Bill – in the House of Commons on 30th June 1932.

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Photo of Major Abraham Lyons Major Abraham Lyons , Leicester East

I desire to associate myself with what has been said by the hon. and learned Member for Bridgewater (Mr. Croom-Johnson). I yield to none in my desire to protect young people in their employment. The possibility of the over-employment of young persons has aroused the interest of a good many people for many years, and those of us who desire to safeguard the conditions under which these young people are employed feel that it is the duty of this House to grapple with the realities of the case and not put forward anything which leaves the situation just as it is. The Government ought not to put on the Statute Book something which seems only a sham. As supporters of the National Government in all its undertakings, we feel that if there is to be legislation to remedy what is said to be an existing abuse of the employment of young persons, then the remedy should come by legislation of this House. Speaking for myself, I feel strongly that to put on the Statute Book a Clause of this nature, with a rider at the end, which makes it completely inoperative, is to put an end to all attempts to deal with the problem. There is no intention, according to the Under-Secretary of State, to put into operation the machinery of this Clause which is designed for the protection of persons against over-employment. I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Norwood (Sir. W. Greaves-Lord) that if there is something that wants to be remedied let us pass legislation and remedy it.

I think I am right in saying that this Clause was discussed in this House for some six hours. Every possible angle was reviewed, and after a very long and careful investigation it was rejected. I do not like to think that this bad Clause should now be accepted by this House merely to prevent some misapprehension by the country as to our position with another place. Our duty is to deal with the position as it is, to pass a Measure Clause by Clause which will be effective, and above all, while we desire to safe-guard the interests of the young person in employment, not to put any harassing restraint on trade which would bring about the very evil which we are trying to prevent, namely, the depression of industries throughout the country. One can conceive a local authority, if it had the power to pass these regulations, making a set of laws directly at variance with those of a neighbouring authority, and the young person would be at a complete loss to know how he stood. Particularly as it is intended only as a sham, and in no way to deal with the position, I hope the hon. Member representing the Home Office will not try to get behind the decision of this House, when it was proposed some time ago by a private Member and refused by the House. I hope this Clause will be either withdrawn or rejected in the interests of the work of the National Government and of this particular object.