Young Persons (Hours of Work).

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

Alert me about debates like this

Mr. Graham White:

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has reached any decision with regard to the hours of employment of young persons in the pottery industry?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I have the matter at present under consideration.

Mr. White:

Will my right hon. Friend be making a statement in the fairly near future?

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

asked the Minister of Labour how many Orders under the Factory Acts have been issued allowing young persons to be employed up to 52 hours per week; the date of issue in each case; the several industries they cover; the approximate number of young persons affected; and whether any steps are taken to record any deleterious effects on the mental and physical standards of those young persons?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I have made two Orders, dated 23rd December and 5th February last, under which working hours up to 52, or in the former case 53, can be authorised for young persons under 16 as well as for older persons. They apply to the pottery and cotton spinning industries respectively. The Orders cannot, however, be used at any particular factory unless permission to do so has been obtained from the District Factory Inspector, and I have no figures as to the present numbers of such permissions, though I shall be receiving returns shortly. The permissions do not relate to any specified numbers of young persons. The working of the Orders is being closely watched.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Is the right hon. Gentleman keeping watch on the complaints that are made from time to time, like the one the other day from Huddersfield about young persons working such long hours that they were deteriorating mentally and physically?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I understand that that matter comes up for Debate to-day. It has nothing to do with this Question.

Photo of Sir Harold Sutcliffe Sir Harold Sutcliffe , Royton

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that such an Order is necessary for the furtherance of the war effort? If it is found to be harmful to the health of these young people, will he take steps to withdraw it?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

As I explained in reply to a previous Question, the difficulty arises when emergencies are suddenly forced upon the Ministry. It is extremely difficult to work the differences of hours between 16 and under 16, and sooner or later in subsequent legislation it will have to be straightened out.

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Fulham West

Are these young persons medically examined before the factory inspector asks them to undertake these long hours?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I would like notice of that Question.

Photo of Sir Richard Denman Sir Richard Denman , Leeds Central

asked the Minister of Labour what requirements of the war caused him to raise the working hours of young persons under 16 years of age in certain cotton factories to 52 hours a week?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lindsay Mr Kenneth Lindsay , Kilmarnock

asked the Minister of Labour what reasons prompted him to agree to an Order extending the hours of young workers in the cotton industry?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I was satisfied that war requirements of various kinds necessitated longer hours of work in cotton spinning mills, and representatives of both sides had agreed to increase them up to 52, on the basis that the new scheme of hours would apply irrespective of age. In view of the extent to which this industry is organised with assistants under 16, I decided that I could not exclude them from the Order permitting the longer hours for others working with them.