Instructions have been given to county war agricultural executive committees not to encourage or to facilitate the employment of children under the age of 14 until every other source of supplementary labour (including local women, the older children at public and secondary schools and soldier labour if available) has been fully used. Committees have been asked to make every effort to see that children under 14 do not work for more than four hours a day. Arrangements are to be made wherever possible for the work to be spread over such number of children as will enable individual children to be employed for half days only (up to four hours) at a time, and in term-time to attend school for either the morning or afternoon session.
How is provision made to protect the children from being put on heavy work, and to see that the work is at any rate of a character suitable for child labour?
Arising out of the reply of the Minister, which in many ways will relieve anxiety, may I ask whether he has made Regulations to provide against the possible overstrain of children who are physically unfit and whether he is aware of the anxiety of head teachers on that point?
In view of the Minister's assurance, for which I am grateful to him, I desire to give notice that I shall not deem it necessary to proceed with the Prayer which is down for next week. I think I am also speaking for my hon. Friends whose names are associated with mine.
What form of collaboration is there between education authorities and war agricultural committees to see that farmers do not violate the regulations laid down? Is the Minister aware that excessive enthusiasm on the part of farmers may cause the children to work excessively long hours?