asked the Minister of Labour whether he will now make a statement upon the further consideration he has given to increasing the scope, intensity and application of the use of his powers, towards the objective of ensuring that all industrial establishments employing more than 100 persons have canteens installed and operating, including facilities for serving hot food as well as hot beverages, all in accordance with undertakings he recently gave.
Regulations have been made requiring the provisions of canteens in certain circumstances in particular industries. Further regulations applying to other industries could be made if their special circumstances warranted it, and after full consultation with the interested organisations; but my right hon. Friend does not intend to make regulations requiring canteens to be provided in all factories above a certain size—regardless of the conditions and circumstances of the employment.
That is a profoundly disappointing Answer. Is my right hon. Friend aware that views were expressed from both sides of the House during protracted debates on the Factories Bill that a more general provision is now appropriate and that it would be based on the number of persons employed in factories? Will he take note of the fact that I shall return to this topic immediately after the General Election with my right hon. Friend, with whose conduct in the matter I am very disappointed, or with his successor?
It may be that I shall have the pleasure of answer further Questions from my hon. Friend on this matter. I would point out to him that the reason why my right hon. Friend, after careful consideration, did not decide to do as my hon. Friend suggested was that in factories of any size circumstances vary widely. When I spoke in the debate I explained that it would be difficult, but it was in fact found that it would be impossible.
Is the hon. Member aware that there is disappointment on this side of the House, too, that he cannot be more forthcoming on this vital issue? We have debated this on the Factories Bill and on various other occasions. By what criterion will the Minister judge whether the factory shall have a canteen or not? It appears that wherever we have a reasonable number of people, 100 or a number of that kind, it is necessary, irrespective of the type of operation they perform, that they should have the facilities for obtaining meals.
As the hon. Member knows, my right hon. Friend has made a number of regulations under his powers under Section 46 of the Act. He would have considered any representations which had been made to him, but in fact representations have not ben made on the line which the hon. Member and my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) are now following.