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Volume 656: debated on Monday 19 March 1962

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asked the Minister of Labour if he will take steps to limit the working hours of juveniles aged 15 to 16 years to 30 hours per week and of juveniles aged 16 to 18 years to 40 hours per week.

I have no evidence that the hours being worked by young people within existing restrictions are harmful, and I have therefore no plans for measures in this field.

If the right hon. Gentleman will not take action, will he do what so many of his colleagues do—cause an inquiry to be made? Will he have an inquiry made to see whether there is any causal connection between fatigue and juvenile industrial accidents?

I do not believe that there is much point in having an inquiry unless there is evidence for having one. If the hon. Gentleman or any hon. Member can produce any evidence for an inquiry, naturally I will consider it.

Surely the right hon. Gentleman has seen the information in the questionnaires returned by juvenile employment officers, that there is a strong connection between fatigue and accidents? As the right hon. Gentleman does not know the figures, why does not he try to find them out?

I think the evidence is that accidents are due more to inattention than to fatigue. These are two different things. I am sure that the answer is to instil safety-consciousness not only in young people, but in middle-aged and old people.

I do not dissent from what the right hon. Gentleman said about safety-consciousness, but would not be agree that in many cases the sudden change to long working hours from school hours can lead to exceptional fatigue towards the end of the working day or week? Because of the serious rise in industrial accidents among young people, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the point made by my hon. Friend?

I said that if there was evidence for it I would be prepared to consider going further, but I have some evidence that the first two hours of work are one of the peaks for accidents.