Pottery Industry (Young Persons).

Oral Answers to Questions — National War Effort. – in the House of Commons on 19th February 1942.

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Photo of Mr Kenneth Lindsay Mr Kenneth Lindsay , Kilmarnock

asked the Minister of Labour whether the hours of work for young persons between the ages of 14 and 16 in the pottery industry were increased with his approval?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

In connection with arrangements for releasing pottery workers for other urgent work, particularly in Government factories, I was advised that with the reduced numbers the necessary pottery output could not be maintained unless weekly working hours were increased, and, further, unless young persons under 16 were allowed to work beyond the weekly limit of 48 hours previously applying to them. In accordance with proposals made to me on behalf both of the employers and the workers concerned, I made an Order which among other things authorised the employment of young persons under 16 in a pottery factory for hours in excess of 48 but not in excess of 53, subject to permission being obtained in each case from the District Inspector of Factories. While I regret the necessity for this action, there was, in my opinion, no alternative consistent with my public duty. I propose to keep a close watch on the matter and to review the position in three months' time.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lindsay Mr Kenneth Lindsay , Kilmarnock

Does the Minister realise that that argument has been used before for extending the hours of labour for young persons between 14 and 16 years of age, and that it is directly opposed to the Government's policy and the policy of the Board of Education, which is to try and release young people so that they can join cadet units and go to evening classes? Does the Minister expect them to do this after they have worked a 10 hours' day? Will he review the matter?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I have already announced that it will be reviewed after three months. I had to consider the position which arose because of the opening of certain factories making urgent munitions required by the troops; billets and other facilities were very short in the area, and I had to get the release quickly of a large number of people and to make improvised arrangements for the purpose. I am now filling the requirements by bringing in other people from outside. I hope to be in a position in a very short time to withdraw the Order and restore the position.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Can the Minister say what will be the gross number of extra hours worked by these young people now that the Order is in operation?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I cannot give a precise answer.

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

Did the Minister say that the trade unions agreed to this?

Photo of Sir Richard Denman Sir Richard Denman , Leeds Central

asked the Minister of Labour what is the death rate from silicosis in the pottery factories, in which he has approved the increase of hours of work for young persons under 16 years of age to 53 a week?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

For the three years 1938 to 1940 the average number of deaths from fibrosis of the lung {including silicosis) among persons who had been employed in the pottery industry was approximately 52, and the average age at death was between 59 and 60. I am advised that silicosis usually takes many years to develop and that the deaths now occurring are largely attributable to conditions which prevailed in the industry long ago, before the regulations were strengthened and various improvements made.

Photo of Sir Richard Denman Sir Richard Denman , Leeds Central

Do not increased hours of work mean an increase in danger?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I think that the way to treat silicosis is to make industrial conditions such that it cannot arise.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

My right hon. Friend has given figures for three years; can he say whether there has been an annual increase or an annual decline?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I have not got that information.

Photo of Sir Richard Denman Sir Richard Denman , Leeds Central

asked the Minister of Labour what steps, under Section 99 of the Factories Act, 1937, examining surgeons are taking in respect of young persons under 16 years of age employed for 53 hours in pottery factories?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

This Section requires young persons under 16, on entering employment in a factory, to be examined by the examining surgeon as to their fitness for that employment. It does not require a further examination if the hours of work are changed. As stated in my reply to a previous Question, the inspectorate will, however, keep a special watch on the employment of young persons under 16 in potteries for more than 48 hours a week, and the position will be reviewed in three months' time.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

What percentage of young people are rejected for this kind of work?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I must have notice of that Question.