Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £206,072, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1925, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department and Subordinate Offices, including Liquidation Expenses of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Contributions towards the Expenses of a System of Probation."—[NOTE: £200,000 has been voted on account.]
§ Mrs. WINTRINGHAM
It is rather difficult to open a debate on the subject of the Home Office when the Report has not been published. This Vote opens up a very wide field of discussion, and the question of the Factory Acts, on which I wish to address the Committee, is of such a far-reaching and very technical nature that it is difficult to do it justice. One feels, however, that the subject is so pressing that it must be considered, and that no opportunity should be lost of bringing it before the House of Commons. At present the position is that it is over 20 years since the last consolidated Factory and Workshops Act was passed in this country. By it, women and girls of over the age of 14 were allowed to work 60 hours a week without its being counted as overtime, but overtime might be worked under certain conditions. No Regulations were made in regard to lighting, in regard to underground workrooms, or, except in a few cases, with regard to mess or cloak rooms. Good firms; we know, have not waited for legislation to be passed to bring these things about, but the law is not the compelling influence that has done it; it has been their own philanthropy and their own idea that to provide these good conditions for their workers always makes 1584 for the betterment of industry. At the present time the inspectors are numerically very inadequate. The custom and practice and the characteristic of English people has always been to try to secure fair play, but with regard to this question I think we have rather been content with what is perhaps pleasing to the eye and looks rather well, with regard to hours of employment. The eye perhaps does not see all that is wrong at the core, and it is to expose this core that I want to speak a little this afternoon.
Although we are, generally speaking, in favour of an eight hours' day, or a 48 hours' week, that is not legal in our country, but it is, as I have said before, the custom and practice of our country, and many people, I think, would be astonished at the laxity and the wideness of our factory laws and hours. They leave the slave-driver free to exact work for much more than 48 hours a week. We have led the world to see the human and the commercial wisdom of reasonable working hours, but we have not yet ratified the Washington Eight Hours' Convention. I want to pay a tribute to the inspectors who already work under the Factory Acts. The present standard of industrial life is due, partly, to the wisdom of employers, partly to the awakening consciousness of the workers themselves, partly to the love of fair play, which goes to influence public opinion, and very much to the zeal and efficiency of the Factory Department, which has laboured under conditions which have not allowed them to make even one visit to every factory and workshop each year.
The last Factory Report that was issued, in 1922, shows that before the War we had 222 factory inspectors. A re-organisation scheme was suggested, and intended, which would increase the numbers to 237, but when the economy stunt came along the numbers were reduced to 205, and that at present is the total number of factory inspectors we have working in Great Britain. Great Britain now has 283,542 factories, and with 205 inspectors to supervise them, it means that each inspector has to have charge of 1,383 factories. The result is obvious. Many of them are not visited. It is quite impossible, with that large number of factories and with so few inspectors, that proper supervision and visitation can be made, and since the War, as I have tried to show, the num- 1585 bers of inspectors have decreased and the work has considerably increased. A new code of Regulations in any trade means an enormous amount of extra work, and very often it takes 12 months to get this work into proper going order and requires a great deal of detailed attention from our inspectors. The Police (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1916, and welfare orders mean extra supervision. Every new development in a trade adds to the burden of inspection. For example, the present demand for electric accumulators for wireless sets needs much more detailed and scientific understanding on the part of the inspectors themselves, and that means a great additional burden on the inspectorate.
Our present position is that we try to persuade ourselves that we have our high standards, but, indeed, we have very rusty legislation, and we want better inspection on the part of the inspectors to try to reconcile these opposites and to make things fit between our would-be high standards and our rusty legislation. It is high time that these things were understood and genuinely tackled. There is too much talk about our debt to the industrial workers, particularly the women and children and young people, and there is too little action taken to discharge that debt. Factories are considered to be the aristocracy of labour, but outside the factories there are many other things, such as offices and shops, for which we want better conditions and a regulation of the hours on the lines of the Washington Convention. Above all, we want the enforcement of the Regulations made for workers in factories. We want an assured guarantee from the Government that we shall have an increased and fully trained staff of inspectors for this purpose.
§ Mr. GODFREY LOCKER-LAMPSON
I am very glad the hon. Lady the Member for Louth (Mrs. Wintringham) has raised this very important question of factories. She gave us some remarkable figures as to the numbers of factories and of inspectors and the number of factories that each inspector has to look after. I quite agree that the time has arrived when the Home Secretary will have to make up his mind whether a considerable increase will not be necessary, for, after all, nobody suggests that the present factory inspectors do not work very hard and do 1586 not do their duty, but it is certainly beyond the power of any inspector to look after more than a certain number of factories, and I think this question will become even more acute, because, as the hon. Lady knows, the Shipbuilding Committee on Accidents is now sitting, and probably in the future there will be a good many more Regulations for the safety of the workers, and necessarily the work of these inspectors will increase. In the same way, there will shortly be another Bill before the House, the White Lead Bill, and probably very stringent Regulations will have to be adopted, so that again the work of the inspectorate will very largely increase. As we are on the subject of factories, may I say that I am very delighted that the Government intend very shortly to bring in an amending Bill so far as the factory law is concerned, and I should like to say that my right hon. Friend the late Home Secretary took a great interest in this question when he was at the Home Office, and himself had a Bill in preparation. It was also, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) reminds me, put into the King's Speech.
In view of the fact that the Home Secretary is very shortly going to bring in a Bill, may I mention one or two points which I hope he will bear in mind? The Factory Acts at the present time are in a hopeless state of confusion. I suppose there are certain officials who understand them, but I am quite sure that there is nobody outside the particular Department that has to deal with them who really understands them as a whole. A great many provisions in regard to working hours are obsolete, and it is absolutely essential that we should have a consolidating Bill and an amending Bill as well. At the present time, you have three big headings. You have factories, you have workshops, and you have another category—docks, wharfs, quays and warehouses; and they are all treated differently. Under the heading of "Factories," you have three or four sub-headings—textile factories, non-textile factories, tenement factories and domestic factories—and they are all treated in a different way. The non-textile factories are themselves divided again under three sub-headings: factories where mechanical power is used, factories where mechanical power is either 1587 used or not used, and a third category which completely overlaps many of the others where manufacturing processes take place and where mechanical power is used. As a matter of fact, before coming down to the House to-day, I was looking at an enormous volume of no less than 600 pages, showing how all these headings overlap one another, and how many existing Regulations and provisions are completely obsolete.
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I do not think it was an official book. I think it was written by a private gentleman, whose name I cannot, remember, but it is in its 12th edition.
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I will let my right hon. Friend know. I hope that one of the things which the Home Secretary will do will be to abolish all these obsolete distinctions between the various kinds of factories. It is absolutely impossible in a Act of Parliament to provide for every contingency, for every defect, and for every danger that may occur in a factory. There must be a great many cases which are never covered by any particular provision in the Factory Acts, and which cannot be covered. That being so, I feel very strongly that the inspectorate, if they find any defect or danger not covered by any particular provision of the Factory Acts, ought to have power to get that defect remedied and put right. If the right hon. Gentleman were able to do that, it would at once enable him to deal with such matters as the carrying of heavy weights by women and children and many other dangers which are not at present dealt with under the law.
I hope that the Home Secretary will do what he can to extend what are called the welfare provisions which are now in force in some of our industries. I refer to such matters—I think the hon. Member who opened this Debate will agree with me—as washing accommodation, the provision of drinking water, the provision of first-aid and ambulances, the provision of facilities for sitting down during long hours of work, and accommodation for 1588 keeping clothes and drying clothes. I hope that we shall see in the Bill to be brought in by the right hon. Gentleman some provision to deal with those matters. I happened to be chairman of the Silicosis Committee, and over and over again complaints were placed before us of an enormous quantity of dust flying about those works. Of course, that only dealt with silica dust, but we have had evidence over and over again at the Home Office from workers showing the deleterious character of dust which affects the workers' health. At the present time, under the Acts, the Inspector has to prove that the dust is dangerous to the workers, and is actually doing harm. Naturally, it is often very difficult to prove that actual harm has been done to the worker, but, as a matter of fact, everybody will agree that it does not matter what kind of dust it is, if you have to work in a dusty atmosphere, it must be bad for one's health. Therefore, I do hope that in the Bill which is going to be brought in something will be done to prevent as far as possible the accumulation of dust in the atmosphere which must be inhaled by the workers concerned.
May I make one last point. I hope that the factory provisions will be extended to the building trade. It seems to me a most extraordinary anomaly that up to the present the building trade has been completely immune, unless mechanical power is used, from any kind of factory supervision. After all, it is a very dangerous trade. There are a great many regulations affecting shipbuilding, but there are practically no regulations affecting the building trade, where people very often have to work at far greater heights than they do in building ships. Therefore, I do hope that in the Bill that is going to be presented the Home Secretary will do something to include the building trade under our factory law. The conditions of industry have so changed during the last few years, especially since the War, that it seems to me absolutely essential to have a consolidation and an amending Bill, and I hope that this new Measure when it is brought in will really start a new and better era in our factory legislation. I believe that all parties will co-operate with the Home Secretary in doing what they can, quite irrespective of party or on what side of the House they sit, to make the Bill a really efficient 1589 instrument for raising the standard of health and the standard of safety among our workers.
I should just like to back up what the hon. Member for Louth (Mrs. Wintringham) and the last speaker have said. The answer given to-day to the question put by the hon. Member for South Nottingham (Lord H. Cavendish-Bentinck) showed that there are 59,000 factories and 39,000 workshops which have not been visited in two years. If hon. Members realised what this meant in human lives and welfare they would receive quite a shock. Ever since I have been in the House of Commons, I have always pressed against reductions in the factory inspectorate which was one of the evils of the anti-waste campaign. It was the party opposite, under the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who cut down the factory inspectorate. It was madness, and time has shown us how foolish and futile it was. The Home Secretary, last February, received a deputation, headed by the Bishop of Winchester, asking him to look into certain questions. The last speaker has dealt with nearly all of them, but there are two or three others which I should like to bring to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman. The annual report of the Chief Inspector for 1922 says thatThe reports from the inspectors show that without resorting to legislation the hours of work have been generally reduced to a total varying from 44–48 hours per week, and that overtime is rare, and a five-day week and a one-break day are common.These hours are so general that one forgets that there are many girls who do not come under them at all. We get complaints from these girls who are not in any organised trades of working 12 hours a day. The Trade Boards have fixed the hours from 44 to 48; yet there are a lot of women and girls, who do not come under the Trade Boards, working these outrageous hours which would not be tolerated for a moment if we had a proper number of inspectors going round. This Committee asks about lighting, which makes such a difference to the worker. That, again, cannot be put right without a proper number of inspectors. They also ask a question about temperature. I know that a right temperature for one person is a wrong 1590 temperature for another, but a cold stuffy workshop gives a wrong temperature always, and there are hundreds of workshops that are cold and stuffy. Then they talk about shops making no provision where workers can take their meals, and we hope that that matter will be dealt with. There is also the question of washing accommodation and the provision of cloakrooms.
It is difficult to go over all these questions, but I do implore the Home Secretary to realise that now is the moment. He has the whole House with him. Many Members are looking in some things for this millennium which has been promised. There are certain things which the Home Secretary can do, and there are other things which he realises, and which we all realise, he can never do. We want him to do the things that he can do. He can make the factories better places, particularly for women, and I hope very much that it will be done. It is bad business in every way to let women and practically children, as well as men, work under conditions under which they do work. There is one more thing. I should like him to see if he can do anything about the Holloway Discharged Prisoners' Association.
I have awful luck. Every time I get up to speak about something I am told that it comes under another Vote. Just as my eloquence gets started, I am told to sit down. I do beg the Home Secretary to take advantage of this warm feeling throughout the country which will not last to get things done. He has a wonderful chance which no other Government has ever had or probably ever will have, so I do ask him to take the chance while he can.
§ Mr. TINKER
There are one or two points to which I want to draw the attention of the Home Secretary with reference to the Workmen's Compensation Act. One is in reference to a Memorandum dealing with insurance companies. I understand that an agreement has been arrived at for 1925–26–27 that the amount of compensation, or the amount paid out of the premiums, shall be equal to 60 per cent. and later on 62 per cent. I do not think that is fair. I think the amount paid out should be higher. When I quote the figures showing the amount which has 1591 been paid out, the right hon. Gentleman will realise the profit which is being made by these companies. In 1922, £6,690,627 was paid in premiums, and £2,974,602 was paid out by way of compensation, including legal and medical expenses—that is to say, only 44.46 per cent. was allocated to the payment of compensation. In 1921 the amount paid out in this way only amounted to 36 per cent. I claim that that amount of money, given to the insurance companies, is not right to the people who had to pay the premiums. After all, the premiums come out of the working classes. If we have to pay all the costs of management out of this money it is going to be bad for us. I would ask the Home Office, if they can, to make arrangements so that a higher percentage may be given to the people who receive compensation, and that there should not so much go by way of profit.
There is another point with which I want to deal and that relates to the certifying surgeons. The Home Office have a right to appoint these people. I find that the certifying surgeons who deal with industrial diseases are chosen many times from those who hold a position under the employers. It is hardly fair to our people when they come before these certifying surgeons to notice that the particular man is the same doctor who is acting for the employer. We claim in that case that we cannot get justice. We ask that the appointment should be made so that there may be as much independence as possible from the employers. Then there is the matter of the fees paid. Every man that goes before a certifying surgeon has to pay 5s. for the certifying surgeon's note. We ask that when the paper is given in favour of the workman the employer ought to meet that charge. It is not fair that the workmen should have to pay every time, because, in case of nystagmus and other industrial diseases, a man goes, say, to the certifying surgeon and pays the fee, and a little later the employer sends the man down again, and again he has to pay the fee. The Home Office have the power in this matter to say, as I have suggested, that when the paper is in favour of the workman the employer ought to pay the fee in every case.
The appointment of medical referees is another question we ask the Home Office 1592 to deal with. I have an instance where a medical referee died, and three months elapsed before another was appointed. During the whole of that time we had a number of cases which got no attention at all. The medical referee can only give his paper at the time of the examination, and it is not fair that our men should have to wait three or four months before an appointment is made. I appeal to the Home Secretary, for it lies within his power to deal with the vacancies immediately they arise, and appoint these people, when a vacancy arises, so that delays may be as little as possible.
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
I desire, first of all, to register my respectful protest at not having the opportunity to study the factory inspector's report before this Vote is taken. I do not think the Home Secretary is entirely to blame in this matter, but I do hope that the Whips of all parties will note this protest, for it is impossible for us to discuss this Vote properly till we have had the privilege of reading the report of the factory inspector. Might I also protest at the manner in which the Vote has been put down—in separate Votes — Factory Administration and Prison Administration. Hence, those who take an interest in factory inspection, and in the administration of Home Office affairs, are cut off from expressing their opinions. I do think that some concession might be made to common sense in this matter so that. Members who desire to do so shall be able to speak on both subjects.
I am afraid I must make a similar speech to that which I made last year when in common with hon. Members opposite on the Labour benches, I protested against the scandalous inadequacy of factory inspection. I said it was a penny wise and pound foolish policy, and it was one of the fruitful causes of accidents, ill-health and disease. I protest even more vehemently to-day because, if in relation to the Conservative party there is sympathy lacking and lack of appreciation of the danger which our workers have to undergo because of an inadequate staff of inspectors, I consider the Labour Government even more guilty. More is expected of them. Owing to the foolish and shortsighted policy of the Geddes proposals—against which I have protested on many occa- 1593 sions—the factory inspector's staff has been cut down from 237 to 235. The Government have ample time to look round and revise the figures. I think it is quite deplorable that this matter has not yet been settled. I asked a question to-day as to how many factories and workshops had been unvisited for one year, and how many for two years. If I caught correctly the figures given to me in reply, no less a number than 29,000 factories have not been visited for two years and 38,000 workshops. That is a position that reduces the system of factory inspection to an absolute farce. I am convinced—because I keep a careful record of all accidents that happen—that a large proportion of the accidents that are not due to mere carelessness are due to the fact that factory inspectors are not numerous enough to see that the factory Regulations are strictly kept. I do not want in the least to undervalue the "Safety First" movement, but it cannot go far to safeguard the workers against wilful or negligent evasion of factory legislation.
The "Safety First" movement undoubtedly does good in arousing the workers to a sense of the dangerous conditions under which they work, but I do submit that it can do little to dimish these accidents. The only way you can do that is by wise, restricted legislation, enforced by an adequate staff If an inadequate staff reduces inspection to a farce, it is even a greater farce in regard to our dangerous trades. The regulations say that the dangerous trade shall be inspected by factory inspectors once every three months. How can that be done under the present proposals of the Home Office? The hon. Member for Louth (Mrs. Wintringham) says that the work of the factory inspectors not only grows in volume, but in scientific application. To make regulations, and then not to give the Home Office an adequate staff to see that those regulations are put into force, is a great mistake.
The great popularity of broadcasting has led to a great increase in the manufacture of electrical accumulators. That is a very dangerous trade. They emit strong fumes, and the worker is obliged to bend down over these fumes, and the consequence is that the existence of lead poisoning in the manufacture of electrical accumulators has greatly and 1594 alarmingly increased during the past few years. That surely calls for adequate inspection. Again, there is another dangerous trade lately come into vogue. I refer to the process of breaking-up ships. A process has now been adopted in the breaking up of ships by the use of oxy-acetylene apparatus. A great heat is applied to the plates, and this causes very strong fumes to the detriment of the workers. There has been a great increase, particularly in the dockyards which are concerned with the breaking-up of old battleships, of trouble from this cause. It is not my desire to make a party score against the present Government, or against the Home Secretary. These are matters affecting the welfare of the workers of this country which, by common consent, each party are concerned about. But I do wish that somehow or other we might get a little more sympathy for the large number of workers whose lives are in peril. We ought to have at least 250 factory inspectors. I do not say the staff should be increased to that number at once. You want to do it gradually, but what I do ask is that the duty of increasing the staff should be taken in hand at once, so that men and women could be trained. Then, when they were required to commence work, they would be ready to do so.
There are one or two questions that I should like to put before I sit down. What is the Home Office doing to prevent the spread of the disease of anthrax? Ought it not to be included in the Schedule? I think it would be well if other Schedules were included, and the work at Liverpool extended. Then there is the question of the lighting of factories. There have been three Departmental Reports on this question, and yet nothing has been done. If I read aright last years' Report of the Factory Inspectors, inadequate lighting of workshops is a fruitful cause of accidents. Might I ask the Home Secretary if he intends to do anything to carry out the recommendations that have been made on this subject. I should like to say a word or two about the disastrous explosion which occurred at Slades Green, whereby 13 girls were done to death. I should like the Government to grant a further inquiry, and one more stringent, into the cause of that accident and to report as to why the Regulations were neglected. 1595 I am profoundly disquieted by the Report that has been presented. I should like to know why this most dangerous work was given to this firm. If dangerous work has to be done it ought to be done by experienced firms. This firm of Messrs. Gilbert and Company did not exist before this work was given to them, and they and their staff have had very little experience. What is more, the ordinary standard Regulations of the Home Office, apparently by the consent of the Disposal Board, were neglected. They were exempted from them.
According to the Report, when at the close of the War the question of dealing with the vast stores of munitions accumulated throughout the United Kingdom had to be dealt with, the chief of the Explosives Department had to issue licences under the Explosives Acts, and owing to the enormous quantities involved it was clear that, although arrangements might be made for carrying out the destruction of these explosives, it could not be done without violating the Regulations, and according to the Report it was quite impossible for the administration to preserve the normal practice with regard to discipline being maintained. Because the Government had enormous stores to dispose of, I protest against the proper Regulations being abrogated. The first thing the Disposal Board did was to violate the Regulations.
The Explosives Act laid it down that when this most dangerous work is done it has to be done with no more than two people in one shed, and yet we find that 20 of these unfortunate girls were crowded into one shed, and when the explosion occurred 13 of those girls were asphyxiated and burned to death. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he attended the dinner held by the staff of the Disposal Board, congratulated them, and he said it was a triumphant exhibition of the success of a Socialistic experiment. I do not know what Socialism is or what it is not, but I do not think the State should make a profit at the expense of the lives of the workers. This work was—
§ Sir GERALD HOHLER
The Home Office act under certain regulations, and apparently they have given a licence to the Disposal Board to dispense with those regulations. Surely it is in order to point out on this Vote that that is wrong?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I cannot find anything in Class II dealing with the Disposal Board. There seems to be an impression that on the general question we can discuss anything connected with the Minister's administration, but that is not so.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
This is an illustration of some firm to whom the Disposal Board sold certain ammunition in whose factory these regulations were either not enforced or at any rate they were relaxed, and surely a question of that kind is in Order under this Vote. If not, under which Vote can this question be discussed?
§ The CHAIRMAN
We can discuss the regulations, but we cannot have an attack upon the Disposal Board. I understood the Noble Lord was making an attack upon the Disposal Board.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I understood you, Mr. Chairman, to say that on the Home Office Vote it would not be competent to range over the whole administration of the Home Office. But surely this Vote includes the salary of the Minister, and it has been the practice for all time, when his salary is under discussion, that it is in Order to discuss everything he administers. It is an entirely new departure to say when the Minister's salary is down on the Vote the whole of the work over which he presides cannot be discussed.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Under Class III, Votes 7, 8 and 9, we deal with the police, prisons and reformatories, and it does not seem right that we should have a discussion on these Votes or the salary of the Minister and then discuss them over again on those Votes. We have down here Votes of a specific nature, and I am confining the discussion to those Votes.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
That rather modifies your ruling. Just now you said that it was not competent to range over the whole field of the activities of the Home Office on this Vote, but now you are only limiting us not to range on the 1597 three Votes that come on subsequently. I understand that we are not to talk about reformatories, prisons or police, but that we can discuss any other subject.
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
I do not wish to pursue this subject any further. I know the Home Secretary is sympathetic on these matters and will do all he can to improve them.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Noble Lady was distinctly referring to prisons, and I drew her attention to the fact that it came under another Vote and she immediately sat down.
§ Mr. ACKROYD
In rising for the first time to address the Committee I am sure I shall have the indulgence of hon. Members. I want to refer to the question of the probation officers with regard to juvenile delinquency, and may I pay a tribute to the great change in the spirit which is now to be seen in the attitude of the Home Office officials with respect to this great question. Public interest in this subject is now being stimulated by the sympathetic attitude of State officials, and on behalf of a very large number of voluntary workers I desire to pay a tribute to the assistance and encouragement which is being given to those of us engaged in this particular kind of work. The working of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1907, so far as it has been tried, has been an unqualified success. The Act is becoming much more largely used, and where it has been put into force it has produced the most beneficial results. Unfortunately, many magistrates still fail to take advantage of 1598 the powers given to them, and there are many Courts throughout the length and breadth of the land which have no probation officers. The House of Lords has recently passed a Bill which makes it compulsory for every petty sessional division, either separately or jointly with the neighbouring petty sessional court, to employ such an officer, and I am informed that the Treasury has provided a sum of £20,000 to meet the cost of these officials. The pay of these people to-day is very small, and because of this I sometimes fear that the right sort of person is not being attracted to this particular kind of work. I sincerely hope that when this Bill comes from the other House every facility will be given by the present Government for its full consideration, and I hope it will be passed. In the meanwhile the Home Office can do a very great deal by urging magistrates to make better use of voluntary workers who would be willing to act as probation officers. Throughout the country there are many men and women of leisure who would be willing to act as voluntary probation officers. Such work would not involve more than a weekly visit to the home of the offender, and possibly an occasional visit or invitation to the boys and girls to spend an evening with the visitors in their own homes.
Those of us engaged in this work among the children are convinced that what most of those children need is just a little human sympathy and friendship at the right time, and we find everywhere that it is the personal touch which in the end works most effectively. Release on probation has generally been the salvation of the boy and the girl, and every opportunity should be taken by magistrates of their powers of remanding young offenders, and giving them another chance before sending them to prison. When a young person is sent to gaol for the first time it frequently happens that he finds his way back again very quickly, and becomes before long a hardened criminal. I submit that there is to-day an urgent need for reform in our penal system, and I hope the Home Secretary during his period of office will deal with the question of long sentences which are sometimes passed upon youthful offenders, and press upon our Judges the desirability of making use of lenient sentences and the reformative alternatives now sanctioned by Parliament.
1599 As a result of the growing co-operation between voluntary workers and the State there has been during recent years a gradual diminution of juvenile delinquency, and I think that it is very gratifying to everybody concerned to know that not only are prisons for men and women being closed down, but there is a decrease in industrial schools and reformatories for young people. Many agencies have contributed to this reduction, but one of the most beneficial in recent years has been the establishment of Children's Courts. I think this opinion will be confirmed by many magistrates who sit in this House. I feel, however, that full use is not being made of the provisions of the Section of the Children Act, 1908, which specially deals with this matter, and I should like to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he could not urge upon the country, by special circular, or in some other way, the importance of adopting all the provisions of that Act. Parliamentary sanction has already been given for the holding of juvenile Courts in separate buildings or rooms away from the ordinary Police Court, and in a few towns that is now being done. The benefit of the Children's Court is greatly minimised when held in the ordinary Police Court. It is always difficult to divest such a Court of features which are equally undesirable either for the sight or the mind of the child. It frequently happens, even in some of our large towns, that magistrates choose that which is most readily at hand, and they content themselves with sitting in the ordinary Court, at the beginning or the end of the day's business, as a juvenile Court, whereas, with very little trouble, another building or another room could be used for the purpose. I submit that the Home Office might again express its wish that all children's cases should be heard with as few persons present as possible, and that these should include such persons as are likely to understand the child, and to know something of his character and education.
There is one other matter to which I wish to allude before I sit down. I should like to ask the Home Secretary if he could take action to give discretion to a magistrate to urge upon the representatives of the Press not to publish the names or addresses of children who are brought up 1600 in the Court. Social workers throughout the country are now agreed that boys frequently lose their situations because their names have appeared in local newspapers for some trivial offence. I am aware that the Children Act provides that representatives of the Press should not be excluded from the Court, but I believe that some time ago the Institute of Journalists themselves passed a resolution to the effect that, in the interest of public morality and the training of future citizens, all newspapers should be urged to withhold the names of juvenile offenders tried or convicted in Children's Courts. The Home Secretary probably is aware that throughout the country workers amongst poor children believe the time has now come when the services of a medical practitioner should be available at these Courts for the purpose of examining and reporting on all cases submitted to him. In some cases of juvenile delinquency the nature of the charge and the offender undoubtedly points to the fact that he is suffering from some physical or mental defect, and the opinion of a doctor in such cases would greatly assist the magistrate in deciding how to deal with the child. Therefore I close by asking whether the Home Secretary will give to this Committee a promise that this matter, along with the others to which I have briefly referred, shall receive sympathetic and full consideration.
§ Mr. GEORGE SPENCER
I want to intervene only for a very short time upon one or two specific points. These points I raised the last time, and I was promised that consideration would be given to them, and I believe would have been given to them had my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend opposite remained in office. I asked last year that attention should be given to the question of a medical referee for industrial diseases in the county of Nottingham. At the present time a man connected with a colliery who contracts the disease known as miners' nystagmus has to go as far as Sheffield and pay his own expenses, in some cases on purpose to have the medical referee decide his case. We are asking that Nottinghamshire shall be provided with a medical referee for this particular purpose, so that men shall not have to be sent into another county at considerable expense, and, in some instances, considerable inconvenience.
1601 There is another question I raised with regard to the extension, or rather the change of nomenclature of industrial diseases. My hon. Friend opposite, who was then Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, promised that, so far as the question of miners' nystagmus was concerned, he was going to invite representatives of the miners and of the employers to discuss the whole question, in view of the reports being published by representatives of the Research Council. Up to now, so far as I am aware, little or nothing has been done. At least, nothing has been done to change the nomenclature of the Schedule, and the time has come when the Home Secretary should give his very serious consideration to the necessity of bringing the nomenclature somewhat in line with the needs of the case as we find it to-day. I know that admits of two different points of view. There is certainly the owners' point of view, and there is also the workmen's point of view. I do not think a very great deal would have been heard about this, but for the fact that there has been a very great change with regard to the attitude of the medical profession to this disease of miners' nystagmus. I think I am not putting it too high, or too strong, when I say that their attitude has changed very considerably, and adversely to the miners themselves. The whole medical attitude towards the miner suffering from miners' nystagmus is that the sooner he gets back to work the better. I do not complain of that. So far as that expression of opinion goes, I concur, but the difficulty arises that you have, first, a specialist doctor employed by colliery companies pronouncing that this or that man is fit to do some kind of light work on the surface, and the man admits to the specialist that he is willing, able and prepared to do some kind of light work on the surface. But no sooner does he make that admission than the compensation is reviewed from 35s. a week down to £1, and the colliery company turn round, in many cases, and say to him, "We cannot find you any work." The result is that instead of getting some compensation and some form of light work provided by the company, the man is more or less turned on the streets with a large percentage of his compensation taken off. This arouses just indignation on the part of the workmen with regard 1602 to the treatment which colliery companies, in many cases, are meting out.
What we are asking for is that the nomenclature should be changed. I had the pleasure and honour in this House of moving an Amendment to the last Workmen's Compensation Bill, and I suggested that the word "Sequelæ" should be added to the Schedule, because very often, when nystagmus has passed away, the man's eyes are in such a state, owing to his working in the pit, that it is impossible for him to go back again to work in the pit for a considerable time. But there is the utmost difference of opinion among doctors themselves as to what nystagmus actually is. Here are two Reports, both written by specialist members of the Nystagmus Committee. Dr. Llewelyn actually states that there may be no oscillation of the eyeballs, as that may have passed away, and yet the man may be actually in the worst possible stage of the disease. On the other hand, Dr. Pooley says that if there is no oscillation of the eyeballs, there is no nystagmus at all. So you get this position, that two eminent specialists upon that Committee are diametrically opposed to each other with regard to their description of what the disease is. Therefore, I say it is time that the Home Secretary turned his attention to this question, and, as far as it is possible, he should change the nomenclature, so that the just rights of the workman should be protected. We do not want in these cases compensation. What we require is the safeguard that the colliery company shall find a man simple work on the surface, or shall be under an obligation to pay the compensation. But it is the work we want rather than the compensation. In this connection, I should like to draw the attention of the Home Secretary to a part of this Report, because I am thoroughly convinced that if the Home Secretary introduced legislation to give effect to this particular Report, and the recommendations of the Committee—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Entwistle)
We are now in Supply, and it would not be in Order to discuss any prospective legislation. We can deal only with administration in Supply.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. SPENCER
I agree; that is what I am trying to do. The question with which I am dealing is the Schedule, and 1603 I am only using an illustration to prove that there are two ways to deal with it. One is that the Home Secretary shall give effect to one of the recommendations of this Committee, and see that legislation is brought forward to make it compulsory upon the colliery owner to provide the standard of illumination which is laid down in this Report. The actual cause of nystagmus is limited illumination—the half candle power in the lamp with which the man has to work. This Report recommends that if a lamp of 2½ candle power is provided for the miner, then nystagmus, as we know it to-day, will rapidly disappear. If they speak with any knowledge and any authority with regard to this disease, which is laying up 3,000 men every year, some of them for very long periods—in one case 15 years, and in others 10 years, six years, five years, three years, and so on—if it be true that a lamp can be provided of such a standard of illumination as will put an end to this disease, I say it is the Home Secretary's duty to see that legislation is brought in which will make it compulsory upon the colliery companies to provide such a lamp. I believe that at least 50 per cent. of the owners would be willing and glad to put it in to-morrow, but the other 50 per cent. would not. While it is made voluntary, those lamps will not be put in, but as soon as ever the Home Secretary says it shall be compulsory within a certain time the lamps will be put in, and we shall hear less about miner's nystagmus than we do at the present time.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
Before I deal with anything in this Vote, I should like to ask the Home Secretary or the Deputy-Leader of the House, who, I see, is here now, whether I am right in understanding that the. Vote for the salary of the Home Secretary will be held over for a future date, because, as has been mentioned by several members of the Committee this afternoon, the Factory Inspector's Report is not yet in our hands. I am not blaming the Home Office for that, because I do not think it has ever been produced so early in the year as this, and I know how very hard worked the inspectors of the Home Office are. I am not finding fault at all with the fact that the Report has not been produced before, but I am anxious to 1604 point out that it is desirable that we should be able to have another discussion on the Home Office Vote when the Factory Inspector's Report has been produced. Therefore, I hope I am right in thinking that the Vote for the right hon. Gentleman's salary will be held over, to enable us to raise whatever points we may want to raise on it at some later time.
There are one or two questions that I should like to ask the Home Secretary. I did put, some weeks ago, a question as to the exact position of a Committee which was set up to inquire into the Restoration of Order in Ireland Acts—as to whether they ought to be totally repealed, or ought to be partially repealed, or whether any other legislation was necessary. That Committee consisted of Sir George. Talbot, Lord Chelmsford, and Mr. Runciman, and the answer I got to my question a few weeks ago was that the Report was very nearly ready, but that the Committee had not sat for some time, I think owing to the illness of the Chairman and owing to Lord Chelmsford being engaged in another direction. I should very much like to know, if the right hon. Gentleman would tell us, whether that Committee has reported, and also whether its Report will be available to the House. With regard to factories, I think it would be difficult, without trespassing on the rules of order, to say very much, because of the Bill which I understand the right hon. Gentleman is going to bring in; but I should like to say that I hope very much that he will bring in that Bill at an early date. As I understand, it is founded upon a Bill which was drafted at the Home Office last year, and which my right hon. Friend the Member for Bewdley (Mr. Baldwin) promised in the King's Speech that he would introduce if he remained in office. I understand that the Bill is that Bill, with certain additions, and, no doubt, improvements, made by the right hon. Gentleman in consultation with his very able and efficient staff. Apart, however, from the question of the Bill itself, I do hope that, as there has been a considerable surplus available this year, some money will be obtained from the Treasury for increasing the number of inspectors, which certainly, but for want of money, ought to have been done before. I think that that is a most important point, partly to relieve them from the risk of 1605 being overworked, and still more in order to cover the ground, which cannot properly be covered by the number that we have now. It is also very important, I think, to bring the Regulations up to date, in view of the many different processes and the different kinds of machinery and work, in order to meet the variations which have taken place in the different factories and workshops since the Regulations were last drawn up.
There is another question on which I think the House would like to be quite assured, and that is the question of the administration of the Aliens Order. From the answers that have been given in the House we have gathered that the practice adopted by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor in office, and by the predecessor of the Minister of Labour, has been closely followed. That was that no alien should be permitted to land in this country without a permit from the Minister of Labour if he was going to undertake permanent work in this country for which any British man or woman was available. I think that that principle is a very sound one, and I should like to be assured that it is being carried out. We were told that there were certain exceptional cases which were being dealt with somewhat differently—at least, that was the impression that I got from an answer which I think the Under-Secretary gave. Of course, there is unquestionably a great number of hard cases in connection with aliens—cases of women here with German husbands abroad, and so on. I quite admit that they are hard cases, but, at the same time, I do not think that they ought to be allowed to come here until the conditions of employment in this country are very different and very much better than they are now, because they create cases quite as hard, if not harder, among our own people. Much as any humane person would like to assist some of these hard cases, I should like to be assured that they are not being allowed here at the risk of putting some of our workers out of work and bringing their wives and families into a state of destitution.
The hon. Member for Moss Side (Mr. Ackroyd) referred, and I agree very much with what he said, to the question of probation. I think that everyone in this House owes a very great debt of gratitude to the work, whether voluntary or other- 1606 wise, that has been done by a very devoted body of people in carrying out the duties of probation officers. I do not think many people realise how much good they have done. There is one thing, about which, during my time at the Home Office, I did feel quite convinced, and that was the value of extending the practice of sentencing people to probation. I do not know that we have sufficient data on which to state exactly how much good has been done, how many cases of relapse there have been, and so on, but I am certain that we know this much, at any rate, that it has done in most places a great deal of good, and its extension ought to have the effect of relieving our prisons from cases which ought not to go there, and saving in one direction any additional expense that we might incur in another. Just before the present Government came in, I was able, by consulting the Treasury, to get the Treasury to undertake the payment of a considerable sum—I forget exactly what it was, but I think about £20,000—towards extending the work of these probation officers. I have very little doubt that the right hon. Gentleman is going to carry on that proposal, and, perhaps, with the Treasury so full, he may even be able to add to it. I think that nearly everyone in this Committee will agree with him if he can do anything, either by spending more money or by encouraging magistrates to make, more use of this probation work. I do not know if it is a good thing to be always telling magistrates what their duty is. I used often to be asked why I did not circularise the magistrates about this, that and the other. I do not think that that is the way to do it, but I think there are ways of bringing the matter to their attention, because many of them are very keen about it, and the great thing, I think, is to give those who are keen an opportunity of saying what they have to say about it, and showing other people what a lot of good it does. Therefore, I hope the right hon. Gentle man will do all he can to encourage the extension of probation work. There is only one other question that I want to ask him. A question was asked to-day by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) about lotteries. Everyone knows that the present state of affairs in regard to lotteries is chaotic.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
It seems to me to be more difficult in these matters than in almost anything else to understand what is legal and what is not. My own view, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman shares it, is that it is very hard on those who have to administer the law as it is now, that it should be so difficult to understand, and there have been test cases in order to try and clear up these questions. Perhaps I might be allowed to give the Committee two or three points with regard to these lotteries. In the first place, there has always been some doubt as to whether a lottery got up by a club and strictly confined to its own members—say the Reform Club, or the National Liberal Club, or the Carlton Club—
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
—is legal. I used to think that, so long as such a lottery was confined to the members of the club, and tickets were not sold or given to people outside the club, it was a harmless proceeding, but that does not seem to be really quite clear. We had cases last year, and the case to which the hon. Member for Bodmin referred to-day seemed to be a case of a lottery got up by a club, but not confined to the members of the club.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I think most of us used to think that that was illegal, although, if the thing were strictly confined to the club, it was all right. I believe there is some doubt as to the law about that. My own opinion, for what it is worth, is that a lottery strictly confined to a club and its members is a very harmless affair, but if it is—
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
—if it is made a public affair and thrown open to everyone, whether members of the club or not, I think it leads to very great abuse. Then there is the question of charitable lotteries. There, again, many very deserving charities have suffered because some perfectly harmless lottery which has 1608 been got up for their benefit has been declared to be illegal. It seems to me that where a lottery or raffle is got up by a charity, and where it is quite clear that the whole, or practically the whole, of the proceeds of what is put in goes to the charity, it should be made perfectly clear that that is a fair and lawful enterprise.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I should have thought it was possible to say, if the lottery is audited, and if you show the number of tickets taken, and that the whole proceeds, after the prizes are given, go to the charitable institution on behalf of which they were asked for, that that should be allowed. Then there is the question of those lotteries—I do not know what is the proper name for them—in which you have to guess something in a newspaper. I believe it is held that, so long as the slightest effort of brain is required—if, for instance, you are able to say that two and two make four, and not five, that shows that you have exercised your brain—the lottery may be a legal one. These guessing competitions, as I hear an hon. Member call them, seem to me to be comparatively harmless, but all of them, I think, need regulating, and we want to know exactly where we are, and what is legal and what is not legal. The really pernicious kind of lottery is the one which is got up, very often, in the name of charity, somewhat on these lines. Someone says, "I am going to give, out of the proceeds of this lottery, £10,000 to such-and-such a charity," and then proceeds to collect all over the world for this desirable charity. No one knows how many entries he gets. He very likely gets £100,000, and then he goes off with £90,000 himself, and says he has done a great and good work by giving £10,000 to a certain institution.
That is a kind of lottery which is certainly illegal, and which the Home Office are always trying to fight against for all they are worth. I do not know whether their powers are sufficient now, but I hope that, if they are not, the right hon. Gentleman will take counsel with his very able, energetic and efficient officers in the Home Office, and either set up a Committee to go into this question, or take some other means 1609 which seem to him to be better for making the law quite clear on this subject, and avoiding all the bother that is caused by the present chaos. I should be very grateful if the right hon. Gentleman could give me some answer on these points, and also if he will confirm what I said at the beginning, that the Vote for his own salary will be held over in order to give us opportunities for discussing the Factory Inspector's Report.
§ Mr. COMYNS-CARR
I rise for the purpose of saying a very few words on the subject of the inspection of industry under the administration of the Home Office, but, before doing so, I should like to refer to two points in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. In the first place, with regard to the administration of the Aliens Act, I think it comes within the experience of all of us that there are at the present time, and have been for some time past, a number of very hard cases indeed, with which I hope the Home Secretary, hi spite of anything that may be said, will deal in the same sympathetic manner in which, so far as my limited experience goes, he has begun to deal with them. Secondly, with regard to the question of lotteries. I do hope that the Home Secretary will not be induced to do anything which would open wider the door with regard to the legalisation or permission of lotteries in this country. I quite agree that it is very difficult at the present time to define a lottery, but some of us know that it is equally if not more difficult to define a charity, and still more difficult to make sure that a lottery which purports to be carried on on behalf of a charity is carried on in a bona-fide manner and for the benefit of the charity. Although I quite agree that the law is at present chaotic, I hope that, if there is to be any alteration, either in the law or in the administration with regard to the holding of lotteries, it will be rather in the direction of strengthening the present control than of weakening it.
With regard to inspection, I should not have risen to add my voice to the number of others which have been raised as to the inadequacy of the present staff of the Home Office for the purpose of carrying out a complete inspection of factories and workshops, if I were not prepared with a definite suggestion as to the manner in which I think improvement could be 1610 effected. Most people have a very obvious suggestion to offer on the subject, which costs more money, namely, that the Home Office should increase its staff of factory inspectors and assistants. The suggestion I have to offer has the merit if, as I firmly believe, it could be put into effect, of combining increased efficiency with a substantial measure of economy. We have at present 205 inspectors of factories and workshops at a cost, as I gather from the Estimates, of £137,800 in salaries and allowances, and of £17,000 in travelling expenses, and taking the number of factories and workshops at present registered, they amount to some 1,383 to be inspected by each of these 205 inspectors, and I think everyone is agreed that that is practically an impossible task.
What I want to draw attention to is the enormous amount of overlapping which is taking place with regard to the inspection of industry. Leaving out of account the fact that many local authorities for several purposes are obliged to employ inspectors to inspect factories, workshops and shops, there is the fact that no fewer than 815 persons, according to figures which have been supplied to me in answer to various questions I have put, are employed by various Government Departments, not all inspecting the whole of the same people but all of them engaged in inspecting factories and workshops of one sort or another, and many of them entirely covering the same ground over and over again. Those 815 persons are employed at a cost of £400,000 a year in salaries and allowances, and no less than £65,000 a year in travelling expenses. It is no doubt quite true that it is necessary for a certain number of factory inspectors, in the higher ranks at all events, to have a very considerable degree of technical knowledge of particular trades and industries, but there are two kinds of knowledge which go to the making of a good inspector, just as there are two kinds of knowledge that go to the making of a good teacher. He may have a very slight technical knowledge of the particular subject which he has to teach, in the case of a teacher, or of the particular subject with regard to which he has to inspect, in the case of an inspector, and he may have very little knowledge at all of how to inspect, or possibly whom he has to inspect, just as the teacher may 1611 have very little knowledge of how to teach or of the people whom he is teaching and the best method of approaching their minds. I am pleading to-day for the co-ordination of our present system of inspection, which would necessarily involve, I suppose, its being concentrated in the hands of one Department, and I suggest the Home Office as the most suitable Department for the purpose.
I think if the whole even of the present inspection staff were taken, the staff which is employed on the duty of the inspection of industry in various Departments, and were put under the control of the right hon. Gentleman at the Home Office, and if their duties were mapped out on a more sensible and comprehensive plan than we have at present, he could devise a system of inspection on lines somewhat like these. He could have smaller districts, with one inspector or more attached to each, who would get to know the characteristics of the various firms he had to inspect. He would get to know those who are honestly endeavouring to carry out the law in so far as they can understand it. He would get to know those who are not only honestly endeavouring to carry it out, but do understand it, and he would also get to know those who are engaged, as some firms unfortunately are, in an attempt to deceive every one of the inspectors who come round to visit them. In my experience I have come across some most astonishing cases of firms who have dressed up their factories for the express purpose of deceiving inspectors from various Government Departments. [Interruption.] They do not come to me except in those cases where the inspector is not deceived, but the fact that occasionally the inspector is not deceived I think indicates that in all probability there must be other cases where the deception is more successful. I only use this observation as illustrating my point that if an inspector had a smaller district he would be able to become acquainted with the characteristics of the firms, and would know those who require special attention and those who are determined to evade the carrying out of the law if they can possibly do so, and in my opinion it would be much more important that the inspector should have that knowledge and should have that smaller district to cover, so that 1612 he would know it and would cover it thoroughly, than that he should be specially qualified in all the technical knowledge which may be required for various special purposes. Then, if the organisation I have in mind were carried into effect you would have very small districts staffed by men who would be specialists in inspection, not specialists in any one subject, but with a general knowledge of particular subjects, grouped into larger districts to which you would have attached specialists in all the various subjects of inspection which were required in the district, and you would have no difficulty in securing that if a local inspector who was not a specialist came up against any point which was too difficult for him for want of technical knowledge, he could immediately report it to the district headquarters, and secure the attendance of one of the specialists dealing with the particular subject who would be able to carry the matter out, and in that way I am convinced if you were to amalgamate the various inspection staffs which the Government Departments have at present—I will not trouble the House with the details although I have them here—you would secure an infinitely more efficient service than you now have, and at the same time you would save a very large part of that £65,000 which now goes every year in travelling expenses, as well as avoiding the necessity, which will otherwise be forced upon you before very long, of increasing the staff at a large increase of salary.
As far as I know there is only one thing that really stands in the way of the attainment of this object, that is departmental jealousy. The proposal I am making has been carried a very small step in this sense, that there has been an amalgamation of the inspectorates on unemployment and health insurance. But to my mind it should be carried infinitely further. If the inspection staffs were amalgamated and organised on the lines I have been indicating, under the control of one Department—and I am suggesting that the Department responsible for factories and workshops should be the one which should have the control, but it is not for me, of course, to settle the point of departmental jealousy with regard to that; I should be content provided the co-ordination is effected under whatever Department it is effected. I 1613 am sure you will not, without an intolerable addition to the taxpayers' burdens, which I am sure would not commend itself to the Chancellor of the Exchequer after what he stated in his Budget speech on the subject of the economies which he is scarcing for, secure a really efficient method of inspection as long as you keep the inspectors in a series of watertight compartments, none of them knowing whether an inspector from some other Department is going to wait on some firm on the same day or whether it may be months before anyone will be able to call on that firm at all, and none of them, as I know perfectly well from frequent experience to be the case, even exchanging information which they acquire in the course of inspecting for one Department, not passing on that information to any other Department—you will never secure, as long as this system continues, without an intolerable increase in financial burdens, that improvement in the inspection of factories and workshops which is so essential if the laws which we have are really effectively to be carried out.
I therefore hope that the Department concerned, at the instigation of the right hon. Gentleman, will investigate thoroughly this proposal that I am making and will not be too prone to accept suggestions which may be made by one Department or another of difficulties which may possibly be put forward in the highly laudable desire of retaining for themselves control of their own particular staff, but will press this matter forward in order that we may have a substantial saving both in travelling expenses and certainly no increase in the numbers required for the duties, and at the same time may accompany that with what I am sure could be attained, a very considerable increase in the thoroughness and efficiency of the inspection.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Arthur Henderson)
Perhaps at the outset I ought to reply to the invitation given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Bridgeman) as to the procedure to be followed with regard to the Vote I shall quite readily acquiesce in the suggestion that this particular Vote should be withdrawn to permit of the opportunity at a later stage, should it be desired by either section of the Opposition, to 1614 resume the Debate upon it, especially having regard to the fact that the Annual Report of the factory department is not ready. I know the importance which all sections of the House attach to having the information contained in that Report at their disposal before finally leaving this Vote. Perhaps I ought to say, though I think it has been already recognised, that the blame does not attach to the Department that this Vote has come on so much earlier this year than in previous years. The arrangement as to which Vote is to be taken on a particular Thursday is made through the usual channels as we say, and our friends below the Gangway selected this particular Vote to-day and we acquiesced in it being brought forward. [Interruption.] If my memory serves me, I think it was not hon. Members below the Gangway, it was the party that now forms the Government that asked for a day last year, though at a later stage. I think the Vote came on somewhere in July.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
The Factory Inspector's Report has been issued, generally, about June or July—very seldom before July—and I should like to hasten the publication if I could, but we have to have regard to the information which has to be obtained. It has to be properly tabulated, and then there is the question of getting it printed, and we are not so overstaffed in the Home Department that we can set aside someone to deal with the Report immediately the year ends for which it is to be published. We are faced with these difficulties, but I will do my best to hasten its publication.
The hon. Member who has just sat down delivered a very interesting speech on what I regard as one of the most important parts of the work of the Home Department—that is the work of the Inspectorate. I am very far from satisfied with the present position. Unfortunately, this part of our work came under the Geddes Axe, and we are below the number of the staff that we ought to have to carry on even what we might call the normal work. I have given a good deal of thought to it, but immediately I went to the Department, as we have been reminded more than once, I found the draft of a Bill, which was referred to in 1615 the King's Speech, for a consolidating and amending Factory Bill. I have given a good deal of time to the consideration of all the questions contained in that Bill. I have had deputations and conferences. I have spent a certain amount of time going into the very important questions affecting the life of the worker in some of the textile factories in the Lancashire area. There are others that I should like to visit before the Bill goes through the Committee stage. When I considered the dimensions of the questions that the Bill was attempting to deal with—and it covers all the questions which the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson) raised—questions such as welfare, lighting, sanitation, and other questions which I myself have felt compelled to include within the scope of the Bill since I have had the matter under consideration—I could not think of bringing in this comprehensive Bill dealing with factory questions and ignore the question of factory inspection, and however anxious I am—and I am anxious—to make up the lost ground as the result of the economy proposals contained in the Geddes Report—I think it would be a mistake to deal with this question piecemeal. I have come to the conclusion that it will be very much more satisfactory to let the House know the provisions of the Bill on Second Beading and then, if we can get it through Committee within a reasonable time, as I am encouraged to believe we shall from the speeches I have listened to to-day—in fact this debate has been full of encouragement, opening, as it did, with very striking speeches from the two hon. Ladies, the Members for Louth (Mrs. Wintringham) and for Sutton (Viscountess Astor), and followed by other speakers in different parts of the Committee, all pleading first of all for improved factory inspection, and asking for the introduction of this new Factory Bill—I am encouraged to believe that there is going to be a non-party attitude towards the Bill and, if it is maintained, I believe we shall make a substantial beginning towards a new standard of factory life, and if we can do that it was my intention to set up, as soon as I saw the time had arrived when it could get the new proposals of the Bill for its guidance, a Committee dealing with the whole question of factory inspection.
1616 I think the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. Comyns-Carr) touched upon a point which is very well worth careful investigation, and I should be quite prepared to appoint a representative Committee, in order that I might have the very best and most up-to-date views presented to me before I went to the Treasury, as it would be necessary for me to do, and to ask for a substantial sum, because I believe there will not only be the lost ground, as the result of the Geddes Report, to be made up, but it must be obvious to hon. Members, in view of what I have said about the comprehensive nature of the proposed Bill, that the question of factory inspection will have to be placed on a much broader and much more comprehensive basis. So I hope hon. Members will be encouraged to believe that no time will be lost in dealing, first of all, with the Bill, and then with the question of factory inspection. Questions were raised by the hon. Member for Leigh, relating to workmen's compensation and the duties of certifying surgeons. With regard to the latter question, I prefer to say nothing to-day, but to deal with it, as I shall be compelled to do, on the Second Reading of the Factory Bill. As soon as I took up my position, I appointed a Committee to go into the question of the duties of certifying surgeons. I have just received the Report of that Committee within the last few days, and we are endeavouring to focus the recommendations of the Committee into one or two Clauses in the Factory Bill. I shall, however, make a more comprehensive statement on that question on the Second Reading of the Bill.
With reference to the Workmen's Compensation Act, the point raised by the hon. Member for Leigh arose out of the agreement that was reached some time ago with the assurance companies. The negotiations took place before I went to the Department, but I understand that the subject was gone into very fully, and careful consideration was given to it before that agreement was reached. I am afraid, so soon after the Amendment of the workmen's compensation law, which only passed through the House last December, and the recent date of the agreement in question, I cannot hold out much hope that anything can be done it an early date on that subject.
1617 I was also asked a question by the Noble Lord the Member for South Nottingham (Lord H. Cavendish-Bentinck) regarding anthrax. On that subject, I am being pressed on two sides. Some employers have approached the Department asking us to reduce the standard on which we have been working, and I have been pressed on the other side to do more. I am very happy to say that the decision of the Department to maintain the station that exists at Liverpool has given a great deal of satisfaction, at any rate amongst the operatives in connection with some sections of the textile industry. I am not prepared to say whether we can go any further than we have gone at the moment, but I may say that the matter is receiving our very careful consideration, and that we are most anxious to do everything we possibly can to protect the health of the workers in this regard, as we are in every industry for which the Department is responsible. The Noble Lord then dealt with a subject on which he feels very deeply, namely, the Slades Green explosion. He expressed his dissatisfaction, first of all, with the fact that this particular firm got this piece of work to do from the Disposal Board. I have endeavoured to point out, in answer to questions, that the giving of this work by the Disposal Board was not the work of the Home Office. We have no responsibility for it whatsoever, and if the Noble Lord has a complaint to make against any Department it is against the Treasury. The Disposal Board was under the Treasury.
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
Was there not the exemption of this work from the ordinary Regulations of the Home Office?
§ Mr. HENDERSON
I thought that in answer to a question I had given the Noble Lord satisfaction. I did my best to give him satisfaction by saying that we would see that this work was carried out 1618 in future under the Explosives Act. I am afraid that I cannot go further than that.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
Did the Home Office relax or withdraw the Regulations in regard to the care taken in dealing with these explosives?
§ Mr. HENDERSON
It is a mistaken idea that the Home Office did anything of the kind. I understand that this work was carried out under similar conditions and under exactly the same Regulations as work had been carried out at other places, but not under the Explosives Act. I only found that out after the explosion had taken place. It was not my doing, but I at once intimated that, in my judgment, this work, if it is to be done at all—I am not quite sure that a strong case can be made out for its being done—it must in future be done, as far as I am concerned, under the Explosives Act. That has been the position of the Home Office during the months that I have been there.
We had a maiden speech from the hon. Member for the Moss-side division of Manchester (Mr. Ackroyd), on which I should like to compliment him. He raised what I should say are questions which come in the human category. In the early part of his speech he paid a well deserved tribute of praise to the work done by the probation officers. The work of the probation officers and the work of the volunteer visitors to our prisons has commended itself to me in no unmistakable way. I cannot now go into the question of prisons. The Under-Secretary or myself will have to do that on another Vote. I may, however, be permitted to say that we have started the visitation of prisons. We have only been able to visit two up to now, and we want to do a good many more, and to examine thoroughly into probation work and other questions ancillary thereto, which can be described as coming within the human category. I should like at some future date to make a very full statement in the House with regard to this work. A good many people fail to realise the tremendous improvement that has already taken effect.
It is my desire that probation work should be encouraged in every way. The policy I have tried to follow, which I believe was the policy of my predecessor, is to do as much educative and reforma- 1619 tory work as we can crowd in, with the space that we have at our disposal. We are determined to give every encouragement to the voluntary work which is being so ably carried on by the most self-sacrificing visitors, both men and women, in addition to the work of the probation officers, who are exerting themselves in every possible way. I will take into consideration the question of issuing another Circular. We cannot always deal with magistrates from the Home Office, or else they would soon tell us that they have some idea of the business they have to discharge. I will also take into consideration the suggestion that we might bring our influence to bear to prevent the publication of names of juvenile offenders. That, again, comes in the human category, and anything we can do in that respect we will gladly undertake.
The hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. G. Spencer) raised two questions—nystagmus and medical referees. In connection with nystagmus, I have been giving a good deal of time to the question. It is a very difficult question. My right hon. Friend the late Home Secretary will agree with me that it is one of the most difficult questions with which we have to deal I have recently received two deputations upon it, one from the General Council of the Trade Union Congress, and the other from the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. I received from these deputations information on one aspect or another of this particular industrial disease. The Committee will recognise that the question has received a considerable amount of attention. One of the difficulties is that the Research Committee associated with the Ministry of Mines cannot get concrete evidence upon which to work. They have been asking for months past for recent cases, but they have not been able to secure those cases. They nave promised me that they will have the most searching investigation made if the cases are submitted. The Mines Department are very much interested in this question, and their officials and some of my own officials have been going into the matter, and my hon. Friend may rest assured that anything that can be done will be done further to elucidate the position that this disease occupies in law and practice.
1620 My right hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry put one or two questions with which I should like to deal. I think I have already answered two of my right hon. Friend's points. With regard to the Talbot Committee, the position is not very much different from what it was when we answered his question two weeks ago. One member of the Committee has been ill for some time. The Report, however, is nearly ready, and information that has reached me since I heard that the right hon. Gentleman was going to raise the question is that the Report will be ready at an early date. I do not suggest that that will be either next week or the following week. I am given to understand that it will be five or six weeks hence.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
I will look into that. As far as I know, it will be published, but I have to be careful in giving answers on some of these ticklish questions about the publication of reports. The next important question was the administration of the Aliens Order. I have answered a good many questions on this subject during the Inst three or four months. My right hon. Friend said that he thought, generally speaking, I was acting on the old lines. I think some questions have shown that I have been, perhaps to some limited extent, departing from the old lines. Let me put it to the Committee in this way. These Orders were to some extent, at any rate, the outcome of the conditions into which we were put in August, 1914. During the period of the War very stringent regulations were applied. I hope that we are going to get away from those stringent conditions. I do not think that any section of the House wants rigidly to adhere to them. But we have always to keep in mind that, so far as the admission of aliens is concerned during this period of unemployment, not even a Labour Home Secretary can be too anxious to admit aliens into this country if they are going to compete directly for positions that ought to be open to the million workers belonging to our own country who are unemployed.
It is well known with regard to this aspect of the case that the Ministry of 1621 Labour must in all cases give a permit. If it is not a question of employment, if aliens are to be admitted, another condition, as my right hon. Friend knows, is that they must be able to give proof that they are in a position to be free from becoming a public charge. I have had some very touching cases brought before me, cases of children whose only relatives are in this country. In one ease the father fell in the War in one of the allied armies; the mother, I think, was a born Briton—she is dead. If the only relatives are in a position to maintain these children, have the children to be excluded? I must say that I am not prepared to give any more definite commitment for the administration of the alien law than that which I have endeavoured to put into practice during the three or four months I have occupied my present position.
The right hon. Gentleman's last question was in respect of lotteries. I think that he had some experience of the matter during his period as Secretary of State. I think that he found that the case about which I was questioned to-day was one of the test cases. At any rate, there was a case which came up last year, and I think the Crown lost in the Courts. What I have done is to try to obtain all the information before coming to a final decision as to what course shall be adopted. That information we are endeavouring to obtain, but, in reference to the question whether I was not prepared to do something so to clarify or codify the law to simplify the position, as it is so difficult to understand, let me say that it must depend very largely on the direction you want to go, in what direction the Committee or the House itself desire to go. I would prefer not to deal with this subject at all unless I was convinced that I was not dealing with a piece of class legislation, and that I was not striking at the masses and was leaving another class of the community free to indulge in another form of gambling, and that I was going to allow them to go scot free. Therefore, if any Member of the Committee presses me to go into the matter, I should like to have some guidance as to the direction in which hon. Members think we ought to go, and as to whether, if we went in that particular direction, we should be likely to secure the support of the House in dealing with what, in my opinion, is a very serious evil.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
What I suggested was that the right hon. Gentleman should set up a Committee which would collect the various opinions of all sections of the House as to whether they consider that legislation could be carried and put into force. If the right hon. Gentleman got the opinion of hon. Members merely on the Floor of this House, he would get so many different opinions that he could not decide.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
I was not asking that we should have the collective opinion of this House. I was rather suggesting that before dealing with this matter we should consider the direction in which we wish to travel. I have not overlooked the suggestion of a Committee, but the terms of reference would have to be such as would give the Committee power not merely to inquire into the complex nature of the law, but also to consider whether they were going to confine their attention to the law as applied to lotteries, whether they were to raise funds for charity or for other institutions or, as I am afraid has happened in some cases in the past, were to be used for the benefit of the promoters. I will take into consideration the suggestion of my right hon. Friend with regard to a Committee. But I do think that this is a very big question, and the law—this is the line upon which I stand—as it exists to-day, and as it has been interpreted by my legal advisers is going to be administered, as far as I am concerned, as resolutely as I can.
There was another question which I expected was about to be raised. It was mentioned in a question that was put to-day. That is the presence of Press photographers at the exhumation of bodies. We have no power as far as I know to prevent this. The only law that could be put into operation is the law of trespass, and I should require a great deal more information than we possess at present in reference to this question, which has only recently arisen, so far as I am aware, before I can commit myself to any definite line of policy about the presence of Press photographers, who are everywhere in these days. Having briefly covered most of the points that have been raised I think that we might now act upon the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman and get rid of this Vote—
§ Lieut.-Colonel JAMES
On a point of Order. There are a couple of questions which I would like to have answered. I will not take long.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will allow me to finish my statement. That is not a point of Order. There are some very important questions which have to be dealt with, and all I am trying to do to-day is to divide the time in the best way. I do not wish to be charged with endeavouring to avoid discussion, but I was responding to the request of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's own Leader to get rid of this Vote, to withdraw it or leave it open to come up on a future occasion if it is desired, and then get on to the next point.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I do wish to impede him in any way. All my political life I have been "agin" the Government of some kind or another, and now I suddenly find myself in a position in which I have to be a follower. There is one point which I wish to bring before the notice of the right hon. Gentleman, which I am sure has escaped him. Since 1897 half a million of men in the sheds, docks and quays had no protection under the Factory Law. They were legislative Ishmaels. What they want the right hon. Gentleman to consider to-day in reference to their case is the question of the examination qualifications of the inspectors, so that practical men may be appointed. A practical man with a knowledge of ships and docks has no chance of being appointed a factory inspector. A man who knows applied mechanics and chemistry is all right. Applied mechanics may be of use in connection with the docks, but what necessity is there for a man to pass in chemistry in order that he may inspect the ships and the docks? What is wanted are practical men who have gone through the whole gamut and would know more about the work than the most eminent theory. As I have said before, a practical man dealing with dock regulations requires to be a combination of the intelligence of a Home Secretary and the agility of a ring-tailed monkey before he can determine what is required. I do not often agree with my right hon. Friend opposite politically, but I do want to give the devil his due—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"]—I am speaking in a Pickwickian sense.
§ Mr. SEXTON
In the discussions on the Dock Regulations the right hon. Gentleman gave us all the assistance possible, and my gratitude is due to him for his very generous assistance, and I would appeal to his successor to give effect to my suggestion when he comes to consider this question.
§ Lieut.-Colonel JAMES
The point on which I wish to question the right hon. Gentleman is this: Some weeks ago a question was raised as to whether in future, trials of persons charged with blackmail should not be held in camera. It is deserving of attention. This social offence is distressingly on the increase, and, unless definite steps are taken to curb it, it will continue to increase. The blackmailer is one of the worst pests of modern society, and we must do something to stop him. There is one course which would stop him and stop him quickly, and that is to provide that trials be held in camera. It is the publicity that prevents a victim very often from going to the police and stating his case. When the question was raised in the House, I was told that the Home Office did not consider it practicable to have the proceedings heard in camera. I have many friends in the legal profession—solicitors, barristers, King's Counsel, and others—and they are unanimous in saying that, in their opinion, the remedy that I have suggested is the right remedy for dealing with these social pests. It is not necessary to take up time by describing the sorts of cases that arise. They must be well known to the Home Secretary.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is out of order. The subject to which he refers can be raised on Vote 1, Class 3, but not on this Vote.
§ Lieut.-Colonel JAMES
Then I will say no more now. I hope that what I have said will enable the Home Secretary to reply in due course. The other point I wished to raise relates to questionnaires at general elections. I remember the case of the Prime Minister, which was 1625 mentioned a few weeks ago. I believe that matter is out of order, however, so I cannot ask a question about it, but if in the course of any subsequent remarks the Home Secretary can say something on it, the House will be grateful to him.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
I have risen half a dozen times to address the Committee. The Home Secretary must have seen that several Members wished to address the House when he rose to reply. Though I have not been in the House every minute of the time, yet I do not think that any speeches have been made on the subject to which I wish to refer. That subject is the publication of photographs in the newspapers. I, therefore, wish that the Debate should proceed in order that we may discuss this very important question of the activities of the Press in regard to cases where people are merely arrested.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
I wish to address the Committee on the point which I have mentioned, if I am in order.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. and learned Member knows that I was about to put the Question, "That the Motion, by leave, be withdrawn." If he does not consent, he is entitled to make his speech. I am in the hands of the Committee as to whether the Motion be withdrawn.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I have not yet gathered what is the point of the hon. and learned Member, but when I have heard it I will give a ruling on it.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
I wish to bring to the attention of the Home Secretary the activities of the Press in publishing photographs of witnesses in cases that may or may not come before the Courts. I desire to ask whether such publication 1626 is not prejudicial to the administration of justice, and whether complaints have been made either by the police or the Public Prosecutor about it? A case to which I wish particularly to refer is one of those sensational cases, now under inquiry, where a photograph of the most important witness was taken at the office of the Public Prosecutor not long since.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. and learned Member is not in order, I think, on this Vote. He will be in order on the next Vote, or, if the matter is under the jurisdiction of the Director of Public Prosecutions, it comes under Vote 1, which is not on the Order Paper today.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
On that point, I submit that this is the only Vote on which I can raise the matter. It does not come under the Director of Public Prosecutions at all, for it is not in his Department. My question arises on the salary of the Home Secretary. I wish to ask whether he is satisfied that the administration of justice is not impeded by the activities of the photographers, more particularly by the taking of photographs of witnesses before a case even comes before the Court?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Does the hon. Member suggest that the Home Secretary should introduce new legislation? If so, that is out of order. I do not know at what my hon. and learned Friend is aiming.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
I have a complete answer to that question. I think the Home Secretary has certain powers, and I want to know whether he considers them sufficient. I propose to deal quite shortly with a very dangerous practice which is growing up. Does the Home Secretary consider that his powers to make application for committal for contempt of court are adequate, or does he think that further powers should be obtained so as to ensure the impartial administration of justice? I will give one illustration, the cocaine case. There is a case which is coming before a court of inquiry. It is a case of a very sensational nature, and one in which it is most important that the witnesses should have security and safety. It is exceedingly undesirable that photographers should besiege the offices of the Public Prosecutor as they did—so I am informed in the Press—to get a photo- 1627 graph and publish a photograph of a lady who is one of the most important witnesses in that case. I am informed that the Public Prosecutor, or the police, had to clear these gentlemen out of Richmond Gardens in order that the witness might attend and leave without being photographed. This practice is very largely on the increase. There is another case which I saw in the pictorial Press the other day. You cannot help seeing these things. My recollection is that a prisoner—I have forgotten who he was—had to be shrouded by a cloak from the photographers as he passed from a taxicab to the Court. It is very undesirable and prejudicial, because at the moment that they are photographed most of the people are not convicted, and, indeed, have not been tried.
Nor does it end there. There is another unfortunate class of case, like that at Eastbourne. We do not know whether the man in this case is guilty or not, for he is not even committed for trial. For the purpose of the inquiry it was desirable to ascertain who were the three women who, it was alleged, had been seen with the man. I saw in some evening paper a photograph of one of these ladies. What more offensive or wrong could be done? How exceedingly prejudicial to the trial! If these things are to happen is it likely that witnesses will come forward to give evidence? I ask the Home Secretary whether he has had complaints from the police or from individuals, and, it may be, from the Public Prosecutor, in regard to these photographers, who will not leave people alone but pursue them to photograph them for gain on behalf of a newspaper. I think that the Public Prosecutor has power, in a proper case, to apply for committal for contempt of court, but I am not satisfied that that is an adequate remedy; I do not think it is, or that it is very desirable to exercise it. I hesitate in the absence of a Law Officer to express any opinion about the case of the opening of graves. Has the Home Secretary had complaints in this matter, and, if so, has he considered them? Since I was called to the Bar this practice is wholly new. No policeman, for instance, can go to Hastings or elsewhere in search of witnesses, but we have a photograph in the Press This is 1628 all very prejudicial to the administration of justice. If the Home Secretary should not speak again to-day, I hope that he will consider the point I have raised.
§ Mr. FOOT
I wish to make further reference to a subject that was raised in the first instance by the right hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Bridgeman), and dealt with in a word or two by the Home Secretary. I gathered from the answer given to me earlier in the day, and from the cheers in the House, that we are very divided in our views as to what the law is in relation to sweepstakes and lotteries. Whatever may be our differences, I think it is time that the law was made clear. Whether we think that sweepstakes should be made legal or that something should be done to make them more difficult, the law as it stands is being brought into contempt. An uncertain law is far worse than a bad law. The law in relation to lotteries and sweepstakes is a law which depends for its interpretation simply upon an artificial frontier. It is put into operation in one county where penalties are imposed, and a different course is taken just over the border in another county. When I raised the point in reference to the Otley Conservative Club it was not merely because it was a Conservative club. It might have been any club, but I was influenced by the fact that in the North of England in particular Conservative, Liberal and Labour clubs have been prosecuted for sweepstakes and have been punished, and one is entitled to ask why punishment should be inflicted in one part of the country and not in another. Here we find this thing being done on a very much more extensive scale and no proceedings are being taken. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary says he has the matter under consideration and he referred to the fact that last year there was a prosecution. That prosecution failed upon a technicality. In the appeal which is at present being made to the public, it is advertised that the sum subscribed last year from all parts of the country and indeed all parts of the world was about £80,000 and that this sum will be exceeded this year owing to the many applications that are being made for participation.
I look upon that, announcement as an impudent defiance of the law. It should be said in fairness to the Conservative clubs that a direction was given from 1629 the headquarters of the Conservative clubs, urging that this course should not be adopted, and the President of the Otley Conservative Club, out of loyalty to his headquarters, resigned his position rather than be a party to a policy which was out of accord with that decided upon by his organisation. In spite of that fact, and in spite of the protests of their own brethren, in spite of the protests of a large and representative committee representing all political parties and all churches, and all shades of thought in Otley, the club is proceeding with this scheme, tempting people in all parts of the country to subscribe to a sweepstake. I ask that further consideration should be given to the suggestion of an inquiry by a Select Committee. I think there is all the stronger reason for it because last year the Committee set up to deal with the proposed betting tax, asked that they might be allowed to extend their inquiries to sweepstakes and lotteries, and it was suggested at the time that this subject could be better dealt with by another inquiry later on. The law as it stands is chaotic, and one hundred years ago there was the strongest possible condemnation by a Parliamentary Committee of lotteries as being injurious to every class of society. I suppose there can be no difference of opinion on the fact that this is a widespread evil, and having regard to that fact, and the association of sweepstakes and lotteries with the extending evil of gambling, I think a Select Committee should be set up. It will not commit the Government to any definite policy, but will enable an exhaustive inquiry to be held into the matter to ascertain the extent of the evil. That is the preliminary to any reform. It would be impossible for the Government to introduce a Bill unless a preliminary inquiry had been made by a Committee representing every section of thought in the House. In that way a real advance may be brought about, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider this appeal which I think is made from all parts of the House.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
Before the Vote is withdrawn I should like to draw the attention of the Home Secretary to another class who have for a long time claimed the protection of the Home Office but have hitherto not received that protection to which they consider themselves 1630 entitled. In the first place may I say I entirely agree with what has been said by the hon. and learned Member for Gillingham (Sir G. Hohler) as to the urgent need of giving witnesses at trials, especially at those sensational trials which are now made so much of in the Press, adequate protection from the photographer who panders to the vulgar curiosity of an irresponsible public. I wish to refer however to the class of small business people and to the failure of the Home Office to protect them against street traders who place barrows immediately opposite business premises and take from the owners of those premises the trade to which they are legitimately entitled. I understand there are something like 50,000 street traders in the Metropolis. None of these men pay cither rates, taxes or rent.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Unless the hon. Member can satisfy me to the contrary, I think he is out of order in that the point he is raising must come under the Police Vote, which is the next Vote on the Order Paper. Unless he can show me that the Home Secretary has direct powers in this respect, apart from acting through the police, I think he is out of order.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I understand the Home Secretary has powers to make orders preventing street traders from placing barrows immediately in front of business premises so as to interfere with the trader in those premises carrying on his legitimate business.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must know that the Home Secretary has not power to do anything he likes. He must act under Statute. The hon. Member must show that the Home Secretary has a statutory power. If he seeks to propose new legislation then he is out of order.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
It is a matter of common knowledge, though I cannot recall the actual Section from memory, that the police have power to licence. ["HON. MEMBERS: "The police!"] Well, the Home Secretary through the police.
§ Sir G. HOHLER
Surely my hon. Friend is in order, for this reason, that we are discussing the salary of the Home Secretary, and on that there is the widest possible scope for discussion of all matters 1631 which the Home Secretary has to administer, whether through the police or otherwise.
§ Whereupon, the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod being come with a Message, the Chairman left the Chair.
§ Mr. SPEAKER resumed the Chair.