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Volume 245: debated on Thursday 20 November 1930

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asked the Minister of Health the conditions under which stone-breaking is carried on in the casual wards at Frome, Somerset and Leighton Buzzard?

Casuals in these wards may be required to perform a task of stone-breaking in small work cells which open out of their sleeping cells. At Frome the task is by time. I understand that the Somersetshire County Council have the question of discontinuing this task under consideration. At Leighton Buzzard only selected men are required to perform the stone-breaking. The task is by quantity, and the casual is required to break into smaller pieces about 2 cwt. of stone which has already been broken into lumps varying from 1 lb. to 2 lbs. in weight.

Did I understand the Minister to say that stone-breaking was done in locked-up cells, and, if so, can he take steps to have it prohibited there or elsewhere?

No; there are small work cells which open out from sleeping cells. As regards the last part of the question, I hope very shortly to submit an Order to the House which wilt assure that stone-breaking will no longer be one of the prescribed tasks.

Inasmuch as stone-breaking has been going on for the last 15 or 16 months, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman who it is that he now describes as "callous and inhuman"?

I think the answer is that it has been going on for the last 15 or 16 years.