As amended by the Standing Committee, again considered.
continuing his speech, said when his speech was interruped he was giving an illustration of how those outside commercial laundries might be affected under Subclause (b). By Clause 2 definite hours of work were fixed in the morning and evening not to exceed thirteen hours. That might operate harshly upon outside laundries, because the work was divided into so many different departments, and until one department had done its work the others could not commence. [Cries of "Agreed."] This provision had been added in Grand Committee as a compromise and had been accepted under conditions which had been frankly stated by the right hon. Gentleman, and he could understand the great disappointment which the Labour Party must have felt when they heard this announcement. In 1895 the present Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced a Bill which contained proposals to place all laundries on an equality, but he had to withdraw them on account of the pressure placed upon him by hon. Members from Ireland, without whose support the Government majority at that time was not sufficient. On behalf of a very deserving industry which had to work under very great pressure he asked the House seriously to consider whether this exemption would not operate most harshly. He hoped that all laundries would be placed upon the same footing.
in seconding the Amendment, said he desired to see this provision applied to institution laundries just the same as to other laundries. It was highly desirable that the difference in the treatment of the two cases should be as small as possible. He could not help thinking that Subsection (2) contained far too great exceptions, and he was afraid that there was a danger of the clause becoming wholly illusory. The Amendment would put these institution laundries on practically the same footing as other laundries. It would prevent the contracting out which was possible under the clause and secure an absolute uniformity of system in all institution laundries. Amendment proposed—
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out at the end of line 5, in page 4 stand part of the Bill.""In page 3, line 24, to leave out Subsection 2 of Clause 5, and insert the words, '(2) In laundries attached to or forming part of an institution to which this section applies the following modifications of the law relating to holidays and notices shall have effect:—(a) Subsection 3 of Section 35 of The Factory ant Workshop Act, 1901, shall not apply, and the following provisions shall be substituted it lieu thereof:—A notice of every holiday o half-holiday must be forwarded during the first week in January to the inspector for the district, and unless the notice has been so sent cessation from work shall not be deemed to be a whole holiday or a half-holiday. Provide, that any such notice may be changed by a subsequent notice sent in like manner not less than twenty-four hours before the holiday or half holiday to which it applies. (b) The managers of the institution shall, not later than the fifteenth day of January in each year, send to the Secretary of State a correct return in the prescribed form, specifying the names of the managers and the name of the person (if any) having charge of the institution under the managers, and such particulars as to the number, age, sex, and employment of the inmates and other persons employed in the work carried on in the institution as the Secretary of State may require, and shall, if any requirement of this paragraph is not complied with, be liable to a fine not exceeding five pounds."—(Mr. Nield.)
said that as an old Home Secretary he might be allowed to say a word or two on this point. It was quite true that in 1895 he attempted to bring these laundries within the scope of the Factory Acts and that he was obliged to with draw his proposal. Looking back upon the past, he thought it would be admitted that this was a large step in advance. If the House agreed to these proposals they would cover at least nine-tenths of the ground. In dealing with a delicate matter of this kind it was always necessary to allow for susceptibilities which, though one might not completely share them, were legitimate and natural. The main object of this legislation would be attained by the clause which his right hon. friend had introduced, and he urged Members who desired to go a step further to be content with what they could get, and to be assured that a very long step was being taken in the direction of really effective supervision.
said he would like the right hon. Gentleman to tell the House what meaning he attached to the words "not subject to inspection by … any Government Department." They were not clear, and different explanations had already been given of them. One matter which had not been alluded to by the mover of the Amendment deserved attention. In Committee words were inserted to provide that any scheme made under the provisions of the Bill should be laid before both Houses of Parliament for forty days before coming into operation. He pointed out that that control was now illusory in the latter part of a session. Therefore they could not always trust to having security under these words. He had no doubt that the Secretary of State would do in regard to this matter what he did now in regard to Orders which were subject to a similar provision. That was to say, he would, as far as possible, lay the Orders before the House at a period of the session when they would have the freedom of criticism they were supposed to enjoy. The Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking of institutional laundries of all classes, had said that a very large number of the institutions were prepared to go further than the provisions of the Bill, and that the provisions as passed in another place were the minimum with which they ought to be content. The words inserted in the Standing Committee had whittled down the provision in this case, and, although he felt that it was difficult to ask the House to reject the judgment of the Committee, he thought that those who had always fought this question on principle must point out that what the Archbishop of Canterbury regarded as the minimum had been whittled down.
said he had some experience of this question during the time he was at the Home Office. He did not wish at present to go into the difficulties which his predecessor, the late Lord Ritchie, encountered in endeavouring to carry through this House a Bill dealing with laundries, including those connected with institutions. He thought it was very desirable that the measure should be passed. At present the inspection was only voluntary, but there was no doubt that the inspection which he was enabled to bring about two or three years ago had paved the way for further reform. What was done then had shown the institutions that inspection by factory inspectors was not so formidable and so much to be dreaded as they had thought. He advised his hon. friends to accept this Bill as far as it went, in the hope that it would lead to a stricter Bill in future.
said that the Amendment of the Home Secretary was only accepted in Grand Committee because of the warning that its rejection would mean the loss of the Bill. The Home Secretary stated that he had made an agreement with certain hon. Members which compelled him to bring forward this Amendment. It was no exaggeration to say that that was the only argument the right hon. Gentleman used in favour of the Amendments. That being so, those who valued the Bill for other reasons could not imperil it by objecting to the Amendment. He did not think it could be said with justice that the Standing Committee were convinced that the Amendment was in itself desirable. If the Committee had been left free to deal with it as they liked, he had no doubt it would have been rejected. He could not support his hon. friend's Amendment, because it went further than anything suggested in the Standing Committee. He thought the undertaking that a scheme under the Bill would be laid before both Houses of Parliament with power to reject it was a reasonable compromise, taking into consideration the difficulties in dealing with this question. While he would vote against the Amendment, he thought Subsection (b) unsound in principle. and he was sorry that the Government had proposed it.
said the noble Lord had accurately represented what took place in the Standing Committee. Undoubtedly Subclause (2) was a concession to those who had made very strong representations. He did not think there was any necessity at present to repeat the arguments for putting it in the Bill. The House knew that the Bill could not pass into law if this subsection were omitted. He knew well the great interest the mover of the Amendment took in certain laundries in the division he represented.
Purely from the point of view of Parliamentary interest.
said he did not question that the hon. Member had made abona fide representation on behalf of his constituents. But a deputation from the Launderers' Association which waited on himself expressed themselves as satisfied with Clause 5. That clause really gave nine-tenths of what was wanted. At the present time these institutions were not inspected at all. They had an absolutely free hand in regard to hours and conditions of work, and when they submitted voluntarily to inspection they were not bound to accept the advice or the warning given by the inspectors. This clause would do an immense deal of good, and fulfil the object desired. First of all, it would at least bring in the inspector, though his powers were confined in certain cases to interrogation of an inmate, or any number of inmates, before the manager. That, however, would enable the inspector to judge whether any suspicions he might have formed were real, and he could then obtain an order for private interrogation from the Home Secretary. The Bill brought in provisions as to the fencing of machinery, ventilation, certificate of fitness, notice of accidents, and the hours of labour. He maintained that this clause gave what the Government wanted. There was a compromise, bat he did not come "with bated breath, and whispering humbleness" to apologise for it. It was a very good clause, and would effect the object desired. The Government had been taunted with making an undue concession to the Catholics. He denied that, and insisted that they were perfectly right to make that concession under the circumstances. He desired to say in justice to the hon. Gentlemen below the gangway opposite, and to the noble Lord the Member for Chichester, that they had advanced a long way from the position which they had taken up in former years. They had made great concessions. The concession he had made would not impair the value of the clause. Any laundry in an institution which was now subject to inspection by the inspector of factories would continue to be as now, and would not come under the operation of this clause. Of course if the institution was a reformatory school it would come under Clause 6.
said he wished to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the concluding words of his speech, which he thought were extremely fair. He also desired to thank him for the way in which he had met those whom he represented in this matter. He might be permitted to add that if the right hon. Gentleman had made a concession it should be recognised that they had made far greater concessions from the point of view from which they looked at this question. On the last occasion on which the subject was debated the position they took up was an objection to the inspection at all of these institutions. Now they had departed from that position, and had admitted inspection in every one of the institutions. That was a very large concession on their part to make. Subsection (d), which the right hon. Gentleman had put into the Bill, and which was especially objectionable to the right hon. Gentleman opposite—
said he did not especially object to that subsection. His objection applied to the whole Bill.
said he did not complain of the right hon. Gentleman, whose attitude on this matter had always been perfectly fair. Subsection (d) was a very small matter. They asked that in a comparatively small number of those institutions of a very particular character the inspection should take a slightly different form from that made in the other institutions, such as charitable and reformatory institutions. This subsection dealt with what were known as rescue homes and Magdelene asylums. Every fair-minded man would admit that there were circumstances connected with those rescue homes which made it a difficult thing to carry out inspection as in ordinary institutions. There was, for instance, the difficulty of maintaining discipline among the inmates, and all they asked for was that an exception should be made in their case, and that the inspection should take place in the presence of one of the superior managers. In a very few cases the inspector could not go in and interrogate the inmates separately unless the Home Office were convinced that the general provisions of the Act were being violated, in which event the Home Secretary would give a special order. In view of the attitude which they had taken up in the House on this subject for years, he submitted that the claim they made to-day was a most moderate one.
asked leave to withdraw his Amendment, and added that he hoped that whenever one of these schemes was formulated for the approval of the Secretary of State, the right hon. Gentleman would always have in his mind the probable injustice to outside commercial laundries and would in that spirit revise and carefully settle the proposals. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. Amendments proposed—
"In page 4, lines 6 and 7, to leave out the words 'schemes made under the foregoing provisions of this Act,' and to insert the words 'any scheme when so approved.'"
"In page 4, line 9, to leave out the words 'or schemes have,' and to insert the word 'has.'"
"In page 4, line 10, to leave out the words 'all or any of the schemes,' and to insert the words 'the scheme.'"
Amendments agreed to. Motion made, and Question, "That the Bill be read a third time," put and agreed to. Bill read the third time, and passed."In page 4, line 11, to leave out the words 'or schemes.'"—(Mr. Gladstone.)