HC Deb 10 August 1904 vol 140 cc138-48

Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Question [5th August], proposed on Consideration of the Bill, as amended (by the Standing Committee), "That a clause (Exemption of Shopkeepers), be read a second time."

Question again proposed.

SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)

said the object of the clause was to preserve to small shopkeepers the power to earn their livelihood. Many shopkeepers employed no assistants, and transacted practically the whole of their business either early in the morning or late at night. He had received many letters from shopkeepers saying that they sat in their back parlours all day doing practically no business and that if they were compelled to close at seven o'clock their means of livelihood would be taken away. He moved a similar clause in Committee, but was defeated, the main objection being that it would be unfair to compel the big shopkeeper to close while the small shopkeeper was allowed to keep open. To meet that objection he had so altered his proposal as to allow the larger shopkeeper to keep open provided he kept no assistants at work after the given hour. The Voluntary Early Closing Association had given him an instance of a firm in the neighbourhood of Oxford Street where that plan was adopted, and he hoped the House would agree to the new clause.


said the object of the Bill was to enable shopkeepers in any district, by a two-thirds majority, to avoid being compelled by one or two recalcitrant individuals to keep their shops open until abnormally late hours. The hon. Baronet appeared to think that some of the shopkeepers desired to keep their shops open. He could assure him that that was not the fact. The views of the late Lord Salisbury upon that point were considerably modified by the evidence brought before the Select Committee of the House of Lords.


reminded the hon. Member that he pre- sented a petition signed by 400 people asking for an Amendment in this direction.


said they were all familiar with petitions, and he preferred to rely upon the evidence presented before the Select Committee and the Report based thereon. But the class in which the hon. Baronet was interested were not lost sight of in the Bill. The proposed new clause would make it impossible for any small shopkeeper to avail himself of this Bill. Provision was already made that in making the order the local authority might have regard to the requirements of any special class of shops, and define the shops to which the order should apply. Therefore, if the local authority, who would have full knowledge of the requirements of the district, came to the conclusion that a special class of small shopkeepers should be permitted to keep open to a later hour, they would have power to exempt them from the order. That, he thought, would be a far better way of meeting the difficulty than that proposed by the hon. Baronet.


said there was an enormous number of small shopkeepers—who did not really compete with the big shopkeepers—who desired to keep their shops open to such hours as they thought fit, and the big shopkeepers did not object to their so doing. He should, therefore, support the new clause.


held that it was most unreasonable to prohibit an adult man from employing his evenings as he liked, and he certainly would not be a party to any such prohibition. He believed the Bill would inflict a great hardship upon many of the poorer people who could not get out to do their shopping earlier in the day. While fully sympathising with the desire to see shops closed earlier, he believed that this drastic legislation would do more harm than good.

Question put.

New clause (Power of county councils to delegate powers under the Shop Hours Acts, 1892 to 1895): Where an order under this Act is in force in any metropolitan borough or urban district the council of the county in which the borough or district is situate may delegate to the council

The House divided:—Ayes, 26; Noes, 125. (Division List No. 339.)

Bartley, Sir George C. T. Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Colomb, Rt. Hn. Sir John C. R. Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk
Compton, Lord Alwyne Knowles, Sir Lees Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Dalkeith, Earl of Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S. Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.
Doughty, Sir George Lowe, Francis William Walker, Col. William Hall
Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H. Montagu, G. (Huntingdon) Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury) Morrell, George Herbert
Hambro, Charles Erie Mount, William Arthur TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Frederick Banbury and Mr. Herbert Robertson.
Heath, James (Staffords., N.W. Powell, Sir Francis Sharpe
Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Prightside Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Fisher, William Hayes Palmer, Sir Walter (Salisbury)
Anson, Sir William Reynell Fitzroy, Hon. Edw. Algernon Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Arkwright, John Stanhope Forster, Henry William Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)
Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O. Gardner, Ernest Percy, Earl
Arrol, Sir William Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.) Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Grant, Corrie Pretyman, Ernest George
Bain, Colonel James Robert Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Balcarres, Lord Gretton, John Randles, John S.
Balfour, Rt Hn. GeraldW. (Leeds Griffith, Ellis J. Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne
Bingham, Lord Hamilton, Marq. of (L'donderry) Rea, Russell
Blundell, Colonel Henry Haslett, Sir James Horner Reid, James (Greenock)
Bond, Edward Hay, Hon. Claude George Remnant, James Farquharson
Bousfield, William Robert Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley Renwick, George
Brassey, Albert Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W. Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge
Brigg, John Higham, John Sharpe Rolleston, Sir John F. L.
Bright, Allan Heywood Horniman, Frederick John Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Hunt, Rowland Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)
Butcher, John George Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)
Caldwell, James Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea) Shackleton, David James
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Jones, William (Carnarvonshire Stanhope, Hon. Philip James
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H. Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lanes.)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Kilbride, Denis Sullivan, Donal
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow) Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)
Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J. F (Worc.) Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)
Chapman, Edward Layland-Barratt, Francis Tomkinson, James
Clare, Octavius Leigh Lee, ArthurH. (Hants., Fareham Toulmin, George
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Tuff, Charles
Coghill, Douglas Harry Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Valentia, Viscount
Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham) Warde, Colonel C. E.
Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S. Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Dalziel, James Henry Lonsdale, John Brownlee Webb, Colonel William George
Davenport, William Bromley- Lough, Thomas Weir, James Galloway
Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chatham Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft) Whiteley, H. (Ashon und. Lyne
Delany, William Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Dickson, Charles Scott Macdona, John Cumming Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Maconochie, A. W. Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)
Doogan, P. C. MacVeagh, Jeremiah Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Malcolm, Ian
Doxford, Sir William Theodore Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes,
Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r Moon, Edward Robert Pacy
Ffrench, Peter Moss, Samuel
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute
Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Newdegate, Francis A. N.

of the borough or district, either with or without any restrictions or conditions as they think it, their powers under the Shop Hours Acts, 1892 to 1895."—(Mr. Cochrane.)

Brought up, and read the first and second time.

MR. HERBERT SAMUEL (Yorkshire, Cleveland)

moved an Amendment to leave out the words "metropolitan borough or." As the Bill was first introduced the powers under the Act were to be conferred on the London County Council, but in passing through the Committee the Government accepted an Amendment substituting the metropolitan borough councils for the County Council. He took a very strong objection to this change, because he believed that its effect would be to a very large extent to make the Act unworkable in London. The Act was already trammelled by many difficulties and obstacles, and it was necessary to secure a two-thirds majority of the shopkeepers before the hours could be reduced. Then they had to obtain the consent of the local authority and the Home Office. It was necessary to have the areas as large as possible, and then they would not have people closing at eight o'clock whilst their competitors in another district might continue open until nine or ten o'clock at night. In London they had twenty-nine separate districts. In support of the contention that the County Council should be the authority to deal with this matter he said he would give one or two illustrations. Fulham Road, which consisted to a large extent of shops, was on one side in the borough of Chelsea, while on the other side it was in the borough of Kensington. If different hours were fixed for these two boroughs very great difficulties would arise. The same could be said of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, where there were two or three different authorities concerned. He trusted the House would revert to the form in which the Bill was originally introduced.

Amendment proposed to the proposed clause— In lines 1 and 2, to leave out the words 'metropolitan borough or.'"—(Mr. Herbert Samuel)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed clause."


in opposing the Amendment, said it was true that when this Bill was introduced the definition of local authority was different from what it was at present. But the Bill had been drafted and redrafted again and again, and it was considered that what was now proposed would be more convenient. There must be boundaries, and even if the County Council were the authority, the streets must be boundaries in London. The Home Secretary would be able to adjust such differences as might arise, and see that these were not glaring inequalities in the various localities as between one side of a street and the other.

* SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)

said he could not speak as a supporter of the Bill, but as it had reached this stage he was in favour of the experiment being tried. In regard to the Amendment now under discussion there was no doubt that previous Bills had made the County Council the authority in matters of this kind. If his hon. friend divided the House he would vote with him.

MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

said he was generally in favour of the County Council getting powers in regard to matters with which they could properly deal, but he was of opinion that in this case it would be absolutely hopeless that any good effect could be secured from the Bill if they made the County Council the authority. How could the County Council get the assent of two-thirds of the shopkeepers all over London? There would be extreme difficulty in getting it. He thought there was a better chance of getting some benefit in London from the Bill if the borough councils were made the authority.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause added to the Bill.

MR. STUART SAMUEL (Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel)

moved an Amendment to Clause 2 to enable persons of the Jewish religion to keep open their shops at certain hours on Saturday to which closing orders might apply. His object in moving the Amendment was to prevent the imposition of the new and serious disability which would be established by the clause if passed as it now stood. The exemption he asked was already recognised in Statutes already passed. The special exemptions applied to Jewish occupiers of factories were set out in Sections 47 and 48 of the Factory and Workshop Act, 1901. Where the occupier of a factory or workshop was a person of the Jewish religion he had the following privileges: If he kept the factory or workshop closed on Saturday until sunset he might employ young persons and women on Saturday from after sunset till nine o'clock in the evening. If he kept his factory or workship closed on Saturday both before and after sunset he might employ young persons and women one hour on every other day in the week (not being Sunday), in addition to the hours allowed by law to non-Jewish occupiers, such hour to be either at the beginning or end of the period of employment, but not to be before six a.m. or after nine p.m. It might be said that under Section 2, Sub-section 3, of the Bill, a closing order might "authorise sales after the closing hour in cases of emergency, and in such other circumstances as might be specified or indicated in the order," and that consequently a local authority could, where necessary, insert in the closing order special exemptions for the benefit of the Jewish shopkeepers, but that argument was not maintainable. In the first place the words "in such other circumstances," being coupled with the word "emergency," would be construed to mean "circumstances" ejusdem generis with "emergency"; and, if so, the fact that Jewish shopkeepers kept their shops closed from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset might not be a "circumstance" within the meaning of the sub-section which the local authority could take into consideration. It might probably be further said that a Jewish shopkeeper who wished to open after sunset on Saturday would be able to do so by substituting another day for Saturday under Sub-section (b) of Clause 2 of the Bill. But that was no answer. In the first place, such sub-section only applied when the closing hour was fixed earlier than seven p.m., so that if it was put at seven, or later, there was no power of substituting at all. Again, even where the closing hour was fixed earlier than seven, and so another day could be substituted for Saturday, the substitution would still involve a special loss to Jews—a loss so heavy that the power of substitution became of no real value to them. For instance, if a closing order fixed one o'clock for Saturday, a Jewish shopkeeper, in order to open on Saturday evening, after the termination of his Sabbath, until ten p.m. that evening, would have to close at one o'clock on some other day of the week, and thus his shop, unless Friday were such a day, would be actually closed for at least two and a half days in each week; and if Friday were such a day, two days as against one and a half days in the case of his non-Jewish trade rivals. What the Jews had to look to the Government to safeguard was, that, as the Bill actually authorised a Saturday closing order, if such an order were made it should not place the Jewish shopkeepers under an unreasonable disability. He contended that what he asked for in his Amendment was reasonable. He begged to move.

Amendment proposed to the Bill— In page 1, line 29, after the word 'proper' to insert the words 'Provided always that every closing order which fixes a closing hour for Saturday shall contain a provision authorising the occupier of a shop who is a person of the Jewish religion, and keeps such shop closed from sunset on any Friday until sunset on the Saturday immediately following, to open that shop on such Saturday at or after sunset and to keep it open until ten o'clock in the evening of the same Saturday.'"—(Mr. Stuart Samuel.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said he could not accept the Amendment, and he had reason to believe that it was disapproved of by other hon. Members of the same faith as the hon. Gentleman.

Question put, and negatived.

Amendment proposed to the Bill— In page 2. line 15, to leave out Sub-section 6 of Clause 2."—(Mr. Lough.)

Question proposed, "That the words of the sub-section to the word 'substitute,' in page 2, line 18, stand part of the Bill."


said that this Sub-section 6 would render the whole object of the Bill perfectly futile.


said he objected to this sub-section in Committee and he did so still. Why on earth should a shopkeeper have to fix a day on which he should close his shop? It might just as well be said that all business should be regulated by some municipal authority.


said that, under the Bill, a particular trade had the option of fixing any particular day on which to close. The object of the clause, was to give greater freedom in that direction. However, he did not consider that the matter was of very great importance; and he would not resist the Amendment.

MR. SHACKLETON (Lancashire, Clitheroe)

said he wished to support the observation of the hon. Member. He was aware that shopkeepers had approached trades union officials and had asked them to use their influence to secure the closing of shops on a particular day and he, therefore, hoped the House would support the proposal of the Government.

Question put, and negatived.

Amendment proposed to the Bill— In page 3, line 3, at end, to add the words 'provided that every closing order shall be laid before each House of Parliament as soon as may be after it is confirmed, and if an address is presented to His Majesty by either House within the next subsequent forty days on which that House has sat after any such order is laid before it praying that the order may be cancelled, His Majesty in Council may annul the order, and any order so annulled shall thenceforth become void and of no effect, but without prejudice to any proceedings which may in the meantime have been taken under the order and without prejudice to the power of making any new closing order.'"—(Mr. Cochrane.)

Amendment agreed to.


moved, in page 5, line 6, to insert, "The sale of confectionery." Strong representations had been made to him on the subject. The Amendment would be very useful in connection with children's holidays; and he hoped it would commend itself to the favourable consideration of the House.

Amendment proposed to the Bill— In page 5, line 6, at the end, to insert the words 'The sale of confectionery.'"—( Mr. Lough.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said it would be better to rely on the local authorities in the matter.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill read the third time, and passed.