Mr. EDMUND HARVEY
asked whether the Factory Department of the Home Office have written to Messrs. Nobel, of Waltham Abbey, instructing the substitution of boy labour for female labour in the operation of ward-cutting; whether, in consequence, a number of women who have been working at this operation for years have been thrown out of employment, and boys engaged in what is for them a blind-alley occupation; and, if so, whether the Home Secretary will state under what authority this instruction has been given?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
It is not the case that the Factory Department of the Home Office have instructed Messrs. Nobel to substitute boy labour for female labour in the operation of ward-cutting. There is no power to give such instructions. An inspector of the Department who recently investigated an accident at the factory expressed the opinion that the sharpening of the knives used in the process of ward-cutting while they were in motion was dangerous work for girls to perform, and suggested that either men should do the sharpening, or that the knives should be stopped while being sharpened. The firm tried the former alternative, and, finding It involved some loss of time, decided on their own initiative to do the whole work of ward-cutting with male labour.