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Factory And Workshop Bill

Volume 181: debated on Wednesday 21 August 1907

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

As amended (by the Standing Committee) considered.

Amendments proposed—

"In page 2, line 7, after the word 'employment,' to insert the words 'of women.'"
"In page 2, line 8, to leave out the words 'of women.'"—(Mr. Gladstone.)

Amendments agreed to.

moved an Amendment to provide that the number of days in each year on which one hour's overtime might be worked in laundries should be thirty instead of sixty, as proposed. Looking to the arduous character of the work, he did not think that women and girls employed in laundries should be allowed to work any overtime. He looked upon overtime as the great curse of trade, and he thought the House should take some steps with the view to its prevention wherever practicable. The working of overtime had a great deal to do with the question of unemployment, because if people would only work ordinary hours there would be employment for many of those who were unable to find employment. It would, no doubt, be argued that this would create a distinction in the conditions as between laundries and non-textile factories where in the present state of the law two hours overtime was allowed for sixty-eight days in the year. He held that the greater the amount of overtime allowed the greater was the opportunity for evading the law. He thought that Parliament should take steps to prevent women and girls working the long hours they now did. The hours of employment in laundries ought to be the same for women and girls as in the textile factories. He begged to move.

urged the necessity of the Home Secretary's taking this Amendment into his favourable consideration. The conditions under which women and girls were employed in some laundries were deplorable. Under this Bill they would be still permitted to work thirteen hours a day; and he thought it would be admitted that the longer the hours worked and the more overtime allowed the more opportunities were afforded for the evasion of the law. He thought the Home Secretary would be acting wisely if the number of days on which overtime could be worked was reduced from sixty to thirty. Amendment proposed—

"In page 2, line 15, to leave out the word 'sixty,' and insert the word 'thirty.'"(Mr. Gill.)
Question proposed, "That the word 'sixty' stand part of the Bill."


said he had much sympathy with the dislike of overtime expressed by the hon. Members who had moved and seconded the Amendment. But overtime was a necessary evil. He would be loth to sanction any more extended period of overtime than was strictly required by the circumstances of the case. The hon. Member for Bolton knew as well as he did that one of the reasons why the laundries were permitted for so long a period to escape from the operation of the Factory and Workshops Act was because of the special difficulties of the trade. Those special difficulties were notorious. This clause did not apply to young persons under eighteen years of age, but simply to women. This was a necessary concession to the trade. Under the influence of legislation the habits of the people might change, and consequently the necessity for overtime. As it was there were many laundries all over the country in which the work had to be done under pressure during certain seasons of the year, when no doubt the workers were extremely hard pressed. It was impossible to say how the difficulty could be overcome except by this provision in the Bill. He thought, however, that notwithstanding the particular circumstances which required overtime to be worked, it was not advisable that those employed in laundries should be in a worse position than those engaged in other trades under the provisions of the Factory and Workshop Act. The Amendment proposed that the overtime to be worked should be one hour for thirty days. The Act of 1901 allowed two hours for thirty days. The Government in this clause proposed that the overtime should be one hour for sixty days. He agreed that there was a certain danger as to inspection, but the Chief Inspector and assistant inspectors saw no difficulty in working the provisions of the clause. Under these circumstances he hoped his hon. friend would not press his Amendment.


said he would support his hon. friend the Member for Bolton if he went to a division. Some hon. Members interested in this question felt very strongly that inspection under the complicated provisions of the Bill would be impossible. In the case of another trade—the jam trade—the inspectors who thought that inspection could be made effective were proved to be wrong.

said that the difficulty of overtime in laundries was felt most acutely in places where the season was short, and from that point of view the laundries would suffer. He thought it would be much better for the laundries if the two hours overtime were allowed for thirty days.


said that that was not so. The Bill as it originally stood provided for the overtime of two hours being worked for thirty days, but the laundries made strong representations that they could not get their work done under that plan and one hour for sixty days was substituted.

said that the difficulty could be easily met by the laundries distributing their work over a larger number of people. There were plenty of public laundries which could employ a larger number of women and girls to overtake the work. It should be remembered that laundry work was the most arduous in which women and girls could be engaged. Parliament had passed vigorous laws in regard to the textile trade, but in that trade the women and girls were sweated not nearly so much as in the laundries.


(Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL, Yorkshire, Cleveland)

said that the whole purpose of this part of the Bill was to bring the laundries under the same restrictions as other trades. The only modification of the usual provisions of the Factory Act which was allowed by this provision of the Bill was that instead of working two hours overtime on thirty days, the employees would be allowed to work one hour overtime for sixty days.

said that he objected to continuous long hours of work, and it was time that the House should consider that twelve hours a day were quite sufficient for any woman or girl to work, taking into account the various atmospheres they had to endure. He really thought that the Home Secretary on reconsideration should withdraw the clause, and if he did not the House should go to a division.

supported the Amendment. In the district in which he lived he saw a very large number of girls who were anæmic and lacked development from the long hours they had to work. If nine and a half hours were considered a long enough day for a man, they were long enough for a woman. He could understand it if an inspector was present to see that the work ceased at the time, but experience went to prove that when the hours were fixed it was a very rare thing for women to get off at that time. The way in which it would work out was that in a great number of cases where the women were allowed to work for an extra hour four days a week—the sixty occasions on which they would be allowed to work for this hour would run consecutively, and that, in the hottest period of the year. The House ought to take exception to these long hours, and, if they claimed to represent a Christian people, put their foot down upon this scandal, and insist upon work being conducted in a manner consistent with the religion they professed. Question put.

Abraham, William (Cork, N. E. )Gurdon, RtHn. Sir W. BramptonNolan, Joseph
Acland,Francis DykeGwynn, Stephen LuciusNorton, Capt.Cecil William
Acland-Hood, RtHn. SirAlex. F.Haldane, Rt.Hon. RichardO'Brien, Kendal (TipperaryMid.
Asquith, Rt. Hon. HerbertHenryHammond, JohnO'Connor, John (Kildare, N. )
Balfour,Robert (Lanark)Harmsworth, R. L (Caithn'ss-sh)O'Connor, T.P.(Liverpool)
Banbury,Sir Frederick GeorgeHaworth,Arthur A.O'Doherty,Philip
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N. )Hayden, John PatrickO'Donnell, C.J.(Walworth)
Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh HicksHazleton, RichardO'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.
Beauchamp,E.Healy, Timothy MichaelO'Malley,William
Beck,A. CecilHelme, Norval WatsonPearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)
Benn, SirJ. Williams (Devonp'rtHenderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, WPearce,William (Limehouse)
Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S. Geo.)Higham, John SharpPirie, Duncan V.
Berridge,T. H. D.Hobart, Sir RobertPower, Patrick Joseph
Bertram,JuliusHogan, MichaelRadford, G. H.
Boland,JohnHolland, Sir William HenryRainy, A. Rolland
Bramsdon,T. A.Holt, Richard DurningRawlinson, John FrederickPeel
Brodie,H. C.Horniman,Emslie JohnRea, Russell (Gloucester)
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)Idris, T. H. W.Reddy, M.
Buchanan,Thomas RyburnJardine, Sir J.Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Burke,E. Haviland-Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)Redmond,William (Clare)
Buxton, Rt. Hn. SydneyCharlesKearley,Hudson E.Rees, J. D.
Campbell-Bannerman,Sir H.Kennedy,Vincent PaulRickett, J.Compton
Carlile, E. HildredKilbride,DenisRoberts, S. (Sheffield,Ecclesall)
Carr-Gomm,H. W.Laidlaw,RobertRobertson, J.M. (Tyneside)
Causton, Rt. Hn. RichardKnightLambert,GeorgeRobinson, S.
Cavendish, Rt. Hon. VictorC. W.Lamont, NormanRobson, Sir William Snowdon
Cawley, Sir FrederickLardner, James Carrige RusheRoe, Sir Thomas
Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E. )Leese, SirJosephF. (Accrington)Runciman,Walter
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)Russell, T. W.
Clancy,John JosephLewis, John HerbertSamuel,Herbert L. (Cleveland)
Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)Lloyd-George,Rt. Hon. DavidSamuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)
Cleland,J. W.Lonsdale, John BrownleeSeely, Colonel
Corbett, C. H (Sussex, E. Grinst'dLough, ThomasShaw, Rt. Hon.T. (Hawick B.)
Courthope,G. LoydLowe, Sir Francis WilliamSheehy, David
Cox,HaroldLundon, W.Shipman, Dr.John G.
Culinan, J.Lupton, ArnoldSinclair, Rt.Hon. John
Douglas,Rt. Hon. A. Akers-Lyell, Charles HenrySmeaton,Donald Mackenzie
Duckworth,JamesMackarness,Frederic C.Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S. )
Duffy,William J.Macnamara, Dr.Thomas J.Stewart,Halley (Greenock)
Elibank,Master ofMac Veagh, Jeremiah (Down, S )Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)
Erskine,David C.MacVe'gh, Charles (Donegal, E.)Talbot, Lord E.(Chichester)
Esslemont,George BirnieM'Callum,John M.Thomson, W. Mitchell (Lanark)
Ferens,T. R.M'Hugh, Patrick A.Ure, Alexander
Ferguson, R. C. MunroM'Kenna, Rt.Hon. ReginaldVerney, F. W.
Ffrench,PeterM`Killop, W.Walton, Sir John L.(Leeds, S. )
Field,WilliamMarkham,Arthur BasilWaring, Walter
Findlay,AlexanderMarks, G. Croydon (Launceston)Waterlow, D.S.
Flavin,Michael JosephMeehan, Patrick A.Wedgwood,Josiah C.
Forster,Henry WilliamMenzies,WalterWeir, James Galloway
Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir HenryMicklem,NathanielWhite, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)
Fuller, John Michael F.Molteno, Percy AlportWhitehead, Rowland
Gibb, James (Harrow)Mooney, J. J.Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)Morrell,PhilipWilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S. )
Ginnell,L.Morton,Alpheus CleophasWinfrey, R.
Gladstone, Rt. Hn. HerbertJohnMuldoon, JohnWood, T.M'Kinnon
Goddard,Daniel FordMurphy, John (Kerry, East)
Grant, CorrieMurphy, N. J. (Kilkenny, S. )TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.
Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir EdwardNapier, T. B.Whiteley and Mr. J. A.
Gulland,John W.Nield, HerbertPease.

Abraham,William (Rhondda)Bell, RichardByles, William Pollard
Baker,Sir John (Portsmouth)Bethell, SirJ. H (Essex, Romf'rd)Clough, William
Banner,John S. HarmoodBowerman, C.W.Clynes, J. R.
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)Brace, WilliamCremer, Sir William Randal

The House divided:—Ayes, 179; Noes, 66 (Division List No. 455.)

Davies, Timothy (Fulham)Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)Rowlands, J.
Dickinson, W. H(St. Pancras, N.Jowett, F. W.Sears, J. E.
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir CharlesKelley, George D.Sherwell, Arthur James
Du Cros, HarveyKing, Alfred John (Knutsford)Silcock, Thomas Ball
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)Sloan, Thomas Henry
Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)Maclean, DonaldSnowden, P.
Fenwick, CharlesMacpherson, J. T.Summerbell, T.
Gill, A. H.Manfield, Harry (Northants)Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Glover, ThomasMoney, L. G. ChiozzaToulmin, George
Gooch, George PeabodyMyer, HoratioWalsh. Stephen
Gretton, JohnNicholls, GeorgeWalters, John Tudor
Harvey, W. E(Derbyshire, N. E.)Nicholson, CharlesN(Doncast'r)Wiles, Thomas
Hay, Hon. Claude GeorgeNuttall, HarryWilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Hazel, Dr. A. E.O'Grady, J.Yoxall, James Henry
Henry, Charles S.Parker, James (Halifax)
Hills, J. W.Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.
Hunt, RowlandRichards, Thomas(W. Monm'th)Arthur Henderson and Mr.
Illingworth, Percy H.Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n)George Roberts.
Johnson, John (Gateshead)Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)

Amendment proposed—

"In page 2, line 28, at the end, to insert the words 'The entry required to be made in the prescribed register by Subsection (4) of the said Section 60 as so applied shall, in the case of overtime employment under Paragraph (b), be made before the commencement of the overtime employment on each day on which it is intended that there should be such employment, and in reckoning the sixty days for the purposes of Paragraph (b) every day on which any woman had been employed overtime shall be taken into account.'"—(Mr. Gladstone.)

Amendment agreed to.

moved an Amendment limiting the special exceptions in the clause a period of two years. He did so because it was admitted not only that there ought to be an Amendment of the Factory Acts, but that the whole of the existing Acts should be consolidated. These Amendments were not intended by the right hon. Gentleman to be permanent, and the object of this Amendment was to extract a promise from the right hon. Gentleman that he would bring in a consolidating and amending Bill within two years. If the right hon. Gentleman could not do that they would be willing to extend the period of restriction to another year if the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to promise that such a Bill would be brought within that period. What they desired to do by this Amendment was to prevent the matter being thrown over to another Parliament and being indefinitely postponed. He begged to move.

formally Recorded the Amendment. Amendment proposed—

"In page 2, line 28, at the end, to insert the words 'and shall remain in operation for two years only after the passing of this Act.'"—(Mr. Arthur Henderson.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said this Amendment was moved in Committee and subsequently withdrawn by the hon. Member for Leicester. He suggested to the House that it would be better not to accept it. It was not desirable to impose a limit to the operation of the provisions of the Bill, when they could not foresee the precise conditions which would operate when the clause lapsed. He thought the argument adduced by his hon. friend with regard to the necessity of amending the Factory Acts was rather against the Amendment. The hon. Gentleman wished for a pledge, but they could not make pledges for two years hence. He did not know where he himself might be in two or three years time, or where this House of Commons would be. There might be another House of Commons. ["Oh!"] But he did not think that that would operate against the introduction of an amending Bill, because there were so many points which required to be dealt with that whatever Government was in office must undertake the responsibility. Therefore seeing that the prospects of an amending Bill were so good it would be better not to accept the Amendment. He did not like to legislate in this way for one particular industry, and it would be wiser to leave this and other questions to be dealt with in an amending Factory and Workshop Bill.

said that if his right hon. friend accepted the Amendment it would not pledge him absolutely to bring in an amending Bill within two years, because if it was found to be necessary to continue the operation of this Bill for a longer period it could be done by inserting it into the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. He would like very much to see a consolidating Act because he disliked more than he could say legislation by reference.

said they did not want to see the Government go out of office, but they certainly wanted to see the Factory Acts consolidated. If this time limit was put in it would to some extent enable the right hon. Gentleman to see his way to do something when the period expired.

hope dthe Amendment would not be pressed, because he did not think it would attain the object aimed at. He had been convinced against it by the short discussion which took place on the subject in the Grand Committee when the hon. Member for Leicester agreed to allow the Amendment to be withdrawn. Of course it was extremely desirable that there should be a consolidating Bill.

said that if this Amendment were accepted it would conconstitute a promise on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to bring the matter before the House two years hence. Two years seemed to him to be a fair period to test the provisions of this Bill, and that being so, it was reasonable to ask the right hon. Gentleman to give a promise that the Government would reconsider the matter in two years, and in that way give some indication that it was intended to do something. The provisions of the Bill were not ideal, and the Labour Members were desirous that something should be put in to show that these un-ideal conditions were not to go on for ever. It seemed to him that some assurance should be given that after two years had expired something would be done to encourage those who were engaged in looking after the welfare of the women. Then there would be no need to divide.

said that if an amending Bill were brought forward, the point raised by the Amendment would be considered. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

moved to leave out Clause 5. There was no necessity for any particular inspection in an establishment where laundry work was carried on as in these institutions. This was an old grievance, and therefore in the absence of his hon. friend he begged to move.

formally seconded the Amendment. Amendment proposed—

"In page 3, to leave out Clause 5."—(Mr. Sloan.)
Question proposed, "That Clause 5, stand part of the Bill."


said he could not accept this Amendment, because the effect of it would be to leave the laundries of these institutions altogether free from inspection. He thought laundries should be on the same footing as other factories and workshops. Of course there must be exceptional, treatment because such institutions were not organised as factories and workshops. Did the hon. Member wish to relieve all the convent laundries in Ireland from inspection? It would be better they should be under the same sanitary and other regulations as commercial undertakings carrying on similar trades. He hoped the Amendment would not be pressed.

asked with regard to Subsection (d) whether he was right in concluding that where this application was not made these reformatory institutions would be subject to inspection under the Act.


said he desired to move the omission of Subsection 2 of this clause in order to substitute a new subsection. He had no desire to say anything which would impart heat into this debate or raise religious controversy. His interest was that of a large body of persons carrying on the business of laundries in the constituency he had the honour to represent. They had assured him that if this Bill passed in the form of the compromise arrived at upstairs between the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State and the hon. Gentlemen below the gangway, their interests would be prejudicially affected, as they would be unable to compete with the institution laundry. On the face of the Bill as amended in Grand Committee at the instance of the Home Secretary it would appear to be intended that under Subsection (4) any scheme which the Home Office would be asked to approve should not be less favourable than the provisions of the Bill. The House would remember the Opposition which was aroused to precisely similar words when introduced into the Workmen's Compensation Bill of 1897 by the trade unions who objected to contracting out. Hon. Members who now claimed to represent labour in the House should be equally slow to accept the words which were now proposed and which would cause differentiation between workers in outside laundries—made subject to the detailed provisions of the Bill—and those in institution laundries who might and probably would be less favourably dealt with under a scheme so far as hours and conditions of work were concerned, while outside workers would be handicapped in many respects and their work rendered less secure and probably less remunerative. Any scheme formulated by those institutions, although apparently harmless, might be disastrous from the point of view of other laundries. He felt it his duty to say that those on whose behalf he spoke had very grave misgivings regarding the attitude of the institutions in the matter of this compromise. They remembered the past history of the Nationalist Party in that House—with what vehemence they had always opposed inspection and how determined they had always declared themselves to be to any form of factory inspection and control of religious institutions. The opinion of those he represented—he did not give it as his own opinion—was that they were satisfied that the inspection provided for under the scheme would be illusory, but that, of course, would entirely depend on the Home Office, and whether they took care to do their duty. The Home Secretary had recognised in his speech the difficulties which laundries had to encounter with regard to a special season trade, for instance in seaside places, but he desired to point out to the right hon. Gentleman other difficulties, and substantial ones which trade laundries in towns had to contend with which entitled them to special consideration. Message to attend the Lords Commissioners. The House went. And, having returned, Mr. SPEAKER reported the Royal Assent to a number of Bills (see page 758.)