HC Deb 01 June 1904 vol 135 cc582-609


Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [1st June], "That the Bill be now read a second time,"

Which Amendment was — To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words in the opinion of this House, the proposed measure for the early closing of Shops is unduly hampered by restrictions, and not providing for the regulation of the hours of shop assistants, fails to satisfy the terms of the unanimous Resolution of this House."—(Sir Charles Dilke.)

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

MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)

said that for two reasons he would be unable to support the Amendment, first, because he did not think it desirable in a Bill of this kind to give local authorities power to fix the hours of labour in particular trades; and secondly, because he was convinced that once such a Bill was passed, although it might well be simplified in Committee with a view to making it easier of application, it would be within the power of the shop assistants themselves to secure an adequate reduction of the excessive hours at present too frequently worked. He was thankful that the Government had had the courage to bring forward even so moderate a Bill as the present; he hoped the measure would be pressed forward, and that the Government would not allow it to be immured in another place as so many attempts in the same direction had been in the past. He believed in the principle of enabling an adequate majority of local traders to bring about a reduction in the number of hours during which shops might be open, the experience of his own constituency showing the great benefit which accrued from a voluntary arrangement carried out on those lines. But though voluntary arrangement might work very well, there was always the fear that one powerful trader might break away from the agreement, or that a company might establish a new branch in a district, and break down the whole scheme. Consequently, such a Bill as that under consideration was necessary, and he was confident that no hardship would accrue from its operation. Traders in a district would have to be practically unanimous before the measure could be brought into force, and if all the shopkeepers in a particular line were on the same level none would suffer. The small shopkeeper would not be put at a disadvantage, because when people knew that the shops would be closed at a certain hour they would arrange to do their shopping within the limits prescribed. With regard to the cases in which individual traders voluntarily gave their assistants in turn a half-day in the week, he thought it was not too much to ask that those traders should give way to the general convenience and close their shops on a particular day, so that the small traders might secure the same benefit as the larger traders in many cases now voluntarily gave to their assistants. While reserving to himself the right to move Amendments on one or two points of detail, he should support the Second Reading of the Bill.


sympathised with the Amendment to a certain extent. It was true the Bill did not deal with the hours during which shop assistants could be employed. The real evil with which it was necessary to deal was not so much the keeping open of the shops, as the excessive hours that many assistants were called upon to labour. In the case of the small shops, in which no one was employed in the ordinary sense, and the proprietors simply sat in a little back parlour while waiting for customers, it mattered, very little how late they kept open. It was not desired to close such shops as those, but the establishments in which assistants were kept on their feet and at work during excessive hours. That was doubtless one of the most difficult problems with which they had to deal. Lord Avebury's Bills invariably provided for the exception of the small shopkeeper, but it was difficult to see how such a provision could be introduced into the scheme of the present measure. In South Hackney there were a very large number of small shops, employing practically no assistants at all, while the remaining portion of the borough contained shops of considerable magnitude. These latter would probably have the predominant vote, and thus be able to close the smaller shops, although that would not be their intention in voting. He did not believe there was any hostility felt by the large shops to the small shops, because, as each had an entirely different class of customers, the large shops were not affected by the small shops remaining open. But it would be found in most districts that, while the great majority of the large shops would be willing to close, a small number of large shops would insist upon remaining open; and while the majority of the large shops were not anxious to close the small shops, they did desire that the outstanding large ships should be forced to close at the hour agreed upon. Therefore it was most important to secure that when shops of the same calibre, so to speak, agreed by a large majority to close, the minority of the same calibre should not be allowed to remain open; at the same time, that small shops which were not really within the evil that it was desired to remedy, as they did not employ outside assistance, should not be forced to close. He hoped the Government would not agree to omit Sub-section 6 as suggested by the hon. Member for Halifax. If a proprietor found Thursday, say, to be the most convenient day for him to close his shop, it would be most unreasonable to force him to keep open on Thursday and close on Saturday; that was surely a matter which the proprietor, guided by the wishes of his assistants and customers, should be allowed to decide.

It was difficult to see what the central authority were going to do in the matter, because except in the case of a very outrageous Order they could not very well make any revision, as they would not have the necessary local knowledge. As to the revocation of the Order, he thought the local authority ought to have much wider powers. There were many reasons other than that stated in the Bill which might make a revocation desirable. He did not agree with the hon. Member for Halifax that if all shops were placed on an equality none would suffer hardship. At present the small shopkeepers secured a certain amount of custom after the large shops were closed. The large shopkeepers did not object to that, and if the small man was compelled to close he would be deprived of an advantage which was a benefit both to himself and to the purchasing public. He hoped therefore, the Government would consent to Amendments with a view to preventing such a result as that. It was pointed out that it was objectionable to have the County Council the authority for London, and that the borough councils should be the authority. No one could accuse him of hostility to the County Council; but, at the same time, he did not think it was the Right authority to put the Act in force. It was quite impossible that the County Council could have more than two members who were acquainted with the needs and requirements of any particular district in London, and even they might not reside in the district they represented. Moreover, the County Council did not pretend to have any special knowledge of the subject. No doubt they could undertake work which more or less extended over a number of districts, but this matter of shopping was a very delicate matter indeed; the wages paid in the different districts were different; the custom in each locality was different; and although he considered that the borough councils would be an undesirably large authority, there was not the slightest doubt that it would be very much better than the County Council. He therefore hoped that the Government would in Committee accept an Amendment making the borough councils the authority.

*MR. WILLIAM ABRAHAM (Glamorganshire, Rhondda)

said he wished to explain the vote he intended to give on this occasion. He did not remember an instance in which he voted in which his right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean was not with him, But on this occasion he did not see his way to support his right hon. friend by voting for the rejection of the Bill. In his opinion the Bill was a step in the right direction. The first principle of the Bill was to close the shops; and he was in favour of every movement in the House that tended directly or indirectly to ameliorate the condition of the working classes. He was quite alive to the fact that the Bill did not provide for the compulsory shortening of the hours of work, but, knowing the strides the shop assistants were making with their organisation, in his opinion, if this modest measure were passed, the shop assistants would, by their union, be able to make a considerable improvement in the present condition with regard to the hours of labour. He was not surprised that hon. Gentlemen opposite found a kind of indirect reason for opposing the Bill. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Peckham was well known as a blocker of all Bills that had any tendency in favour of the working classes; and he had found salvation in this matter in the Amendment proposed by his right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean. He himself, however, was in the position of the gentleman who was wooing two sisters. One he liked very much; but she did not care for him. He was about to be married to the other sister, when the clergyman asked him if he would take this woman to be his wedded wife, and he said he would but that he would rather have her sister. He was prepared to take this small measure as a step in the right direction; and he would support the Second Reading hoping and believing that during the Committee stage they would be able to get some substantial improvements, though not perhaps in the direction which his right hon. friend and the Labour Members had at heart. That was his position in the matter. He would rather accept what he could get than be guilty of rejecting the Bill altogether. Sub-clause 6 of Clause 2 was, in his opinion, one of the things which would make this Bill inoperative. They had only to allow the big shopkeeper to have his own way and he would create such a bone of contention in his locality as would make the Bill inoperative in the end. They were asked why they wanted to legislate at all, and were told that the localities should be left to make their own local arrangements. He represented a great industrial district; and he was almost ashamed to admit that the shop assistants found themselves, not behind the counter, but in the shops after midnight on Saturday night. He asked the House to put a stop to that state of things. He knew a small district in his constituency where the shopkeepers were asked to close at a certain hour, but one gentleman could not see his way clear to co-operate—he had such sympathy with the people who could not come in time. His own opinion, however, was that that sympathy was not with the people but with himself. The moment it was known that the shops would be closed at a certain hour the people would find time to come. It was said that they should show sympathy with the small shopkeeper; but that again was a false argument. What they wanted was to let everybody know that the shops were to be closed at a certain hour, and then people would come in time to make their purchases. Even if the present hours were extended people would come at the last moment. He hoped his right hon. friend would withdraw his Amendment; because, although the measure was not a thousandth part of what it should be, yet, in his humble opinion, it was a step in the right direction, and he would therefore vote for it.


said that in his humble opinion the Bill met the requirements of the community and of individuals; and as representing a large manufacturing and commercial constituency he thanked the Government for its introduction, There was one feature of the Bill which at once commended itself to his mind, and that was the practical introduction of a half-holiday once a week. He had supported Sir John Lubbock in his Bill, and he ventured to say that if those proposals ever were to become operative it would be necessary to incorporate a similar provision in this Bill. In Wigan, which he had the honour to represent, they had a weekly half-holiday every Wednesday, which regulated all transactions in the town except chemists" shops. There was no word of complaint on the part of the customers, except perhaps from some lady who forgot that she could not buy a yard of ribbon on th at particular day. It was regarded by all concerned as a precious privilege which greaty added to the happiness and prosperity of their lives. This Bill was not too rigid and iron in its provisions, because the different conditions of different localities and the different circumstances of particular cases might be met by the machinery which the Bill provided. There was one great difficulty which they met with time after time in the Committees on which he had the honour of serving and which inquired into this subject. That was where different trades were carried on in the same shop. It was denounced by their friend of many years tanding, who was now gone, the late Sir John Blundell Maple, who was the occupant of large premises where various trades were conducted; and his objection on that ground was fatal to legislation in former years. He hoped the provision suggested in the Bill would be of such a character and would afford such elasticity that that difficulty might be overcome and a serious obstacle to legislation in former years be thereby removed.

Not a word was said to-day about the House of Lords Committee which reported in 1901, So rapidly was this question moving that that Report was now almost an absolete document. A proposal was made in that Report that the regulation of shops should be made by Provisional Order. That always seemed to him to be a fatal blot in that Report. A Provisional Order was a dilatory and cumbersome process; and though not expensive when applied to large schemes, would be very expensive when applied to such a small matter as the regulation of shops. The provision in the Bill met the case precisely. First of all, the local authority would be instructed to make inquiry; and they would have no difficulty in gauging public opinion; any proposal must have the support of two-thirds of the shops of the trades concerned; then an Order might be made with power of final revision by the central authority. He believed that revision would be of great service. The provision that the central authority would have some power in this matter was a very valuable one. It would work to the advantage of the community, and he believed would work extremely well in practice. With reference to what had been said by his hon. friend in regard to what were known as domestic shops, where the shop was kept by the wife or daughter, and was essentially a domestic concern, he thought there ought to be some provision by which such a simple trade carried on for the convenience of the neighbours might be safeguarded. He congratulated those who had advocated this measure for many years on the progress they had made. The fact was, the question had advanced because the habits of the nation had changed. There had been a marked alteration in the last few years in the lives of the entire shop-keeping community. The shopkeeper now lived less and leas in the premises where he conducted his business. He left his shop in the evening and reached his villa residence easily by tram or other easy method of locomotion, and he was as anxious for early closing now as were his assistants. There was co-operation in the matter between employers and employed; and be felt quite convinced that the solution of the problem was near at hand. The Bill was introduced under happy circumstances. It was not the result of a trade dispute; it was the result of the gradual change of opinion on both sides of the House; and he was sure that it would prove most salutary and advantageous in its operation. Several shopkeepers had told him that legislation of this kind was really necessary as there was increasing difficulty in inducing promising young men and young women to enter shops. They objected to the restraint, and to the long hours; but if the occupation were made more attractive that difficulty would be removed and they would find that the shop assistants would derive great advantage from the many opportunities of culture which now existed and of which at present they were deprived. Those who lived long enough to see the effect of this legislation would be grateful to the House of Commons for passing into law a Bill which would have the most salutary effect on the lives and fortunes of a most deserving class.

DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

said he had the honour of sitting on two Committees which considered this question, and after a careful survey of the evidence he had come to the conclusion that a Bill of this kind was urgently needed. He would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw his Amendment, and to use his great knowledge, when the Bill was in Committee, to make it a practical working measure to carry out the noble aspirations so eloquently expressed by his hon. friend who had just spoken. He would support the Bill from three points of view. Firstly, he was convinced that the voluntary system was hopeless and inpracticable, and had broken down, for the reason that in a particular district a few shops stood out and derived benefit from the closing of the other shops. He had no particular knowledge of the working of the London County Council, except knowledge derived from observation of its methods. They were told that it was entirely new to this legislation, and was not prepared to carry it out practically. He regretted very much to have heard that from a London Member. If his hon. friend went up to Scotland he would see that the county councils there were very different bodies. They were composed of practical men to whom he would willingly trust the carrying out of local arrangements under this Bill. The second reason why he supported the Bill was that the evidence showed that it would not inflict any hardship on the working classes. They had emphatic evidence before them that the working classes were quite able to adapt their time to the circumstances of the case, whatever the hour of shutting up might be. The third reason why he supported the Bill was because it was a great and urgent necessity in the interests of the health of the shop employees. He was appointed by the chairman of one of the Committees to collect medical evidence, and he brought together a very strong body of medical opinion which was unanimous in stating that the health of every class of the community connected with shops did suffer from the long hours they were compelled to work. He thought that was a point which could not be too emphatically dwelt upon. He believed that in the Bill they had the framework of a good and useful measure; and he again appealed to the right hon. Baronet not to press his Amendment. Let the Second Reading be passed by consent; and let the right hon. Baronet and other Members who worked so loyally on this question put down Amendments in Committee. If the right hon. Baronet pressed his Amendment to a division, he would feel it his duty to vote against it.


thought he had reason to be satisfied with the general reception of the Bill, the credit of which, however, if he obtained the Second Reading and had the measure sent to a Committee, would be due to Lord Avebury, the pioneer of legislative work on this subject. The subject had been considered so several Select Committees, and it had been the subject of more than one Resolution in the House of Commons. The matter had been well ventilated, and the evils the Bill was designed to cure were generally recognised by the House —the evils of long and uncessary hours among shop assistants. Shop assistants were frequently kept at work late at night for no useful purpose whatever; the business could be done just as well earlier in the evening; but a fashion seemed to have grown up under which shopping was done later and later, regardless of the fact that the health of shop assistants was being seriously injured by the long hours they were obliged to work. The measure did not unnecessarily curtail the freedom of the subject, but it would prevent whole districts of shop-keepers being obliged to keep open because of the unwillingness of a minority, sometimes consisting of one man, to enter into a voluntary agreement. He had obtained specific instances from a deputation of one man's preventing the adoption of a weekly half-holiday in several districts of London. Freedom was a good thing, but where it became liberty to compel so many other people to work unnecessary hours it was the grossest tyranny. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean agreed that some measure was necessary, but wished to proceed in a different way by restricting the hours of labour. The Government did not think that was the proper solution, and there was no precedent in the legislation of this House, and only one, he believed, throughout the British Empire, for interfering with the hours of labour of adult shop assistants. That one exception was afforded by Victoria, but the other colonial precedents applied only to shop assistants under a certain age.


There are four cases in your own Orders under the Home office—in regard to dangerous trades.


said that they were on account of danger, which was a perfectly distinct element. This Bill closely followed the beneficent legislation of the Factory Acts. Incidentally it did shorten the hours of labour, but it did so indirectly. It would shorten the hours at the time of day when it was most desirable for the health of the assistants that the hours of labour should be curtailed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife desired that the shop assistants should not be employed in a shop for more than a certain time after the shop was closed. That was a rather impracticable proposal. It would require a perfect army of spies to ascertain whether after a shop was closed the assistants were being kept at work inside. The proposal was also unnecessary, for after a shop was closed it would not be in the interest of the employer to keep his staff a longer time than was required for packing up the cases and doing such other work as was usual and necessary after the closing of the shop. His hon. friend the Member for Peckham gave an instance of a shopkeeper who had expressed himself as hostile to the Bill, and said he had others; but in the correspondence he had himself received there was but one man who expressed a similar view, while there were hundreds who expressed themselves in favour of the Bill, and even the one who was opposed to the Bill, although he wrote as a small shopkeeper, concluded his letter by saying, "Thank God, I am no longer a shopkeeper!"

Many of the points raised in the debate were such as might well be considered in Committee. Among these was the question of the authority for the administration of the Act. Certainly much could be said in favour of the metropolitan borough councils, who might be supposed to know the wants and feelings of shopkeepers and consumers in their boroughs. An Amendment on this point would no doubt receive careful and friendly consideration in Committee. The reason the authority named in the Bill was inserted was that it was the same authority as had power under the Shop Acts of 1892 and 1895 to appoint inspectors. The whole question had been most fully argued in Reports of Committees, and most important among these was the House of Lords Committee of 1901, upon which the late Lord Salisbury sat, and whoso views were materially modified by the evidence he heard. It was found from that evidence that the hours of work ranged as high as eighty to ninety a week, besides the time occupied after closing in putting away goods, and medical evidence was strong that such long hours in crowded ill-ventilated buildings, lighted by gas, must be injurious and often ruinous to the health of shop assistants, especially in the case of women. For this reason the Government had introduced the Bill. It could not be doubted that long hours under such conditions must lead to that physical deterioration of which so much had been heard. Very strong was the testimony of high medical authorities in favour of such legislation. To show how strong that testimony was he would read two paragraphs from the Report of the Committee of 1901 — We are able, however, to appeal to the highest medical testimony as to the injury thus caused. In 1888 the Presidents of the two great medical colleges, with some of the other leaders of the medical profession, Sir James: Paget, Sir Andrew Clarke, Dr. Mathews Duncan, Mr. John Marshall, Dr. Playfair, Dr. Priestley, Sir Richard Quain, Sir William Savory, Sir Samuel Wilks, called the attention of Parliament to the subject and urged the passing of the Early Closing Bill. Considering the weight which belongs to that memorial, and the fact that its statements have never been seriously challenged, the Committee did not deem it necessary to multiply medical evidence on the subject. The Presidents, however, both of the College of Physicians and of the College of Surgeons, have come before us and spoken strongly on the great and increasing evils of the present long hours. Sir W. MacCormac stated 'That there is no doubt in my mind that such long hours must contribute to the incidence of disease; that it must lower the general vitality of persons so engaged, and render them more liable than they otherwise would be to attacks of different forms of disease, and most especially on account of the long hours at night which such a period of work during the week entails. These hours, too, for the most part are worked in an atmosphere very prejudicial to health, and we know how largely the air so contaminated contributes to the production of various forms of disease in which tubercule, for instance, and the manifold forms of disease in which tubercule manifests itself, and that other disease of great cities (ricketts) has some parts of its origin from this cause. I think, as we have called attention to it, women, more especially growing women, women who have not reached the full growth of their sex, are most prone to suffer from such long hours.' Furthermore, he urged on us that the evil is one which increases as time runs on; 'it is gradual and progressive in its effects, and it goes on, I am afraid, in a cumulative degree.' Shopkeepers through their associations were strongly in favour of the Bill, and it had not been shown that the shortening of the hours of business would be any hardship to purchasers. More than 300 tradesmen's associations petitioned the Committee of 1901 in favour of the principle of this Bill, and similar petitions are being received every day, but practically none of a hostile character have come to hand. The case of the small shopkeepers was carefully inquired into by the Committee to which he had referred, and they reported— The evils of late closing press with especial severity on the owners of small shops, and although it is undoubtedly more difficult to ascertain the views of the very small shopkeepers than of those who are more fully organised, we were assured by the large majority of witnesses conversant with the facts that the small tradesmen were as anxious as, or even more anxious than, the richer shopkeepers for some legislation which would enable them to shorten hours. That was certainly not a very radical body, and he hoped their finding would have some weight with his hon. friend the Member for Peckham. As to the small purchasers, the evidence of the representatives of the co-operative stores showed that the alleged hardship was rather chimerical, and when they became aware that they were imposing a burden upon other people by shopping so late, they would be perfectly willing to put themselves to a little inconvenience in order to make their purchases earlier. The Bill was purposely drafted so as to give considerable elasticity, and to allow local authorities to give the fullest effect to the particular requirements of their localities. The local authority might fix, within certain defined limits, the hours at which shops, either in the whole or in part of its area, or any particular class of shops, should be closed. Further, the local authority, having full knowledge of the local requirements, might prohibit the carrying on of retail trade other than in shops after the closing hour or permit it subject to conditions. The hour which might be fixed by any local authority could not in any case be earlier than seven in the evening, except on one day in the week, when it could not be earlier than 1 o'clock, and there was nothing in the provisions to prevent the local authority fixing a much later hour on any day of the week to meet the requirements of any particular class of the community. It was further provided, to meet the wishes of those to whom a half-holiday on one particular day might be inconvenient, that they might on giving proper notice substitute some other day. That was to say, if a class of shopkeepers fixed upon Saturday, for instance, to close, any shopkeeper of that class might arrange to give the half-holiday on Thursday, for instance, if that day were more convenient for his customers. The Bill also provided for the fullest publicity. Every opportunity was given for hearing objections. There was an appeal to the Home Secretary, who had power to order a local inquiry and upon its report to disallow, affirm, or amend the Order of the local authority, and if he allowed it the Order must lie for forty days on the Table of the House before it came into operation. The Bill had been drafted with the earnest desire to interfere as little as possible with the shopkeepers or the purchasers; it was an honest endeavour to meet a serious and growing evil which directly affected the national welfare and the national health; and he believed it would put a stop to grievously long hours and would be accepted as a boon by shop assistants. He thanked the House for the kindly reception they had given to the Bill, and he hoped they would agree to the Second Reading and to its reference to the Committee on Trade.

SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)

said the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had placed before the House incontrovertible arguments in favour of legislation in the direction of this Bill; he had quoted words which seemed almost to justify the inclusion of shopkeeping in the designation of dangerous trades; and yet the Government had brought in a Bill which would become practically a dead letter if passed into law. If the Government intended dealing with the question at all they ought to have had the courage to grapple seriously with the situation, and to introduce a measure really worth carrying. The present Bill provided so many impediments against its working that it was probable nothing would be or could be done under it. It was utterly inadequate to meet so serious an evil, and he should support the Amendment of his right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean, not as a protest against the Bill because it was a step in the wrong direction, but because it was inadequate to meet the great social evil against which it was directed. The Amendment simply sought to carry out the unanimous Resolution of the House of Commons, passed in 1903, in which it was declared to be desirable— that borough and district councils should be authorised to make such regulations in respect of the closing of shops and the limitation of the hours of labour of shop assistants as may seem to them to be necessary in the areas under their jurisdiction.'


Will the Member read the last paragraph?


thus effectively carrying out the recommendations of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on the early closing of shops as embodied in Paragraph 15 of the Report of 1901.


pointed out that in those recommendations there was no reference to the limitation of the hours of labour.


said the Resolution was the deliberately expressed opinion of the House of Commons, and as that contained such a reference he held they were entitled to demand that when legislation was introduced it should have the decency to observe suggestions made by the House itself. It was not so much the managers of large shops or even the owners of small shops that required to be considered as the unfortunate shop assistants who were compelled to work after the shops were closed. Moreover, the Bill did not give local authorities a free hand. If local authorities were put in power they ought to be treated generously and allowed to look after their own affairs. A borough council was quite as competent to deal with this matter as the central authority could be. He would give them power to look after their own affairs in their own locality and allow them to deal with the particular trades in their own areas. This Bill hampered them and put fresh difficulties in their way. He would like a little more vigour put into this measure. When they gave local authorities the initiative they ought to trust them to carry it out. Seeing that local authorities had been placed in power so largely throughout the country, they ought to treat them generously and let them look after their own affairs, retaining a certain amount of central control to secure some uniformity of action. But this Bill would not bring about such a state of things. Those hon. Members who supported the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean would do so as a protest, because this Bill was not strong enough for their taste. He felt that in Committee they might be able to strengthen the measure. He thought the schedule of the Bill required alteration, and the exemption of certain trades which did not conduce to the morality or health of the public could not be justified. He did not see why those who sold intoxicating liquors were to be placed outside the scope of this measure. He would not enter into details at that stage, but he protested against the measure because it was not strong enough to meet the evils which had been so graphically described by the hon. Member on the Front Bench opposite.

MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)

said he was anxious to ascertain the attitude of the Government in regard to the Sunday morning opening of shops. If power was given to local authorities to close shops at an early hour on Saturday night, power should also be given to them to prevent their object being defeated by a hostile minority opening on Sunday morning and thus compelling others to do the same. He also thought that it was unsatisfactory that the local authority should be able to close all the shops in a given area, although the whole of one trade might object. It was quite impossible to treat shopkeepers with perishable goods on the same footing as those who could keep their goods till the next day without sustaining any loss. Those familiar with the East End of London knew the evils caused there by Sunday morning trading, and they did not want those evils increased by the operation of this Bill.

MR. THEODORE TAYLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)

said the Amendment had two parts, one of which related to the hours of labour of assistants. Of course that was outside the scope of the Bill, and, although they might regret that it was not in the Bill, that was not any reason why they should vote for the Amendment, because they might approve or disapprove of the restrictions which many of them desired to see imposed on the hours of shop assistants and agree to differ on that point because it was not before them. But they must take notice of the fact that the Under-Secretary for the Home Department had told them that the Government distinctly joined issue on the labour question. The only reason the hon. Member gave against it, however, was on the ground of its practicability. He gave them many reasons why the hours of labour of assistants in shops ought to be restricted, and the only reason he gave against it was on the ground of the difficulty of inspection. He admitted it would be difficult to inspect shops after they were closed at night. But the inspectors need not go and inspect every shop. If they took notice of the complaints made by the unions of shop assistants he had no doubt that with a very little amount of inspection they would find out a great deal of abuse. He thought the Under-Secretary was entirely wrong when he stated that it would not be to the interests of the shopkeepers to keep the assistants working after the shops were closed. He was afraid there were a great many shopkeepers who did think it was to their interest to work their people too long hours. If there were no such people there would be no need for restrictive legislation in the matter of hours. It was not only the small shops which worked their assistants long hours, for in some of the large shops to-day the assistants were worked after the shops were closed. In those instances the shopkeepers would continue to think that was to their interest, and if there were no inspectors to prevent it that abuse might go on to an even greater extent than it did now. Such people would think that because they were forced to close earlier they would make their assistants work the same number of hours they did now. After the testimony they had heard in the course of the debate as to the extraordinary number of jours that some assistants had to work it was surely reasonable to ask that they should be diminished from eighty or ninety a week to sixty or seventy. Suchh a reduction was more called for than the legislation of two years ago by which they reduced the hours of factory workers from fifty-six and a half to fifty-five and a half. The working classes were emphatic in favour of the Amendment and the smaller shopkeepers were also in favour of it. But under the Bill every shopkeeper would have a vote and the small shopkeeper's vote would count for one just the same as the big shopkeeper's in making up the two-thirds necessary to bring the measure into operation. Therefore he thought their interests were quite safe under the Bill.


said that after the speech of the hon. Member opposite he had come to the conclusion that the Amendment was so bad that he should vote against it.

MR. CORBETT (Glasgow, Tradeston)

said that those shopkeepers who had banded themselves together for more than half a century in order to secure the earlier closing of shops intened that the assistants should leave at an earlier hour. This Act would be of some benefit to the assistants even in those shops where the employees had to work a short time after the shops were closed because those shops would have to close earlier. He wished to point out that the conditions of trade were very widely different in different shops at different seasons. It had been argued that under the Bill there was a danger of some particular trade being compelled to close earlier against its will on account of the decision of two-thirds of the whole of the traders in a particular neighbourhood. In his opinion, however, the local authority would be quite ready and willing to protect any particular trade against such as injustice. He thought the difficulties in regard to the working of this Bill had been very much overstated. In Glasgow, at any rate, he thought there would be no difficulty whatever in getting the municipality to take the necessary steps to give effect to the desires of the shopkeepers. With regard to Sunday trading many hon. Members would heartily welcome a strigent measure to prevent this growing abuse of the Sunday opening of shops, and he thought something to this end might be introduced into this measure. The hon. Member opposite had been rather severe in this criticism of the proposal which enabled individual shopkeepers to have a different early closing day to the other tradesman. The exception contemplated by this measure was in favour of Saturday, because in many neighbourhoods where Wednesday was preferred by the great bulk of the shopkeepers it was felt that if there were certain higher class shops who desired Saturday closing they should have the power to select that day, which was the most desirable day for the assistants because it afforded them better opportunities for week-end recreation. He hoped that nothing would be done to prevent or delay the passing of this Bill. It was a measure that would confer great benefit upon shop assistants.

MR. J. A. PEASE (Essex, Saffron Walden)

said he hoped that the Government would not be too ready to accept the suggestion that the London borough councils should be the local authority instead of the London County Council. If there was to be uniformity of administration, the local authority must be the London County Council. Otherwise they might by handing the control over to the boroughs have one side of a street closed early on the Wednesday and the other side of the same street closed early upon another day. He thought it would be quite easy for the London County Council to ascertain the views of the borough councils, and therefore he thought that the London County Council would be the right authority for London under this Bill. Upon the principle that half a loaf was better than no bread he proposed to support the Government although he felt that this Bill was wholly inadequate to deal with the great evil which existed. This measure he thought, indicated the incapacity of the Government to legislate in conformity with public opinion when they introduced a Bill of this kind to deal with such a crying evil.

DR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)

said he concurred with what had fallen from the last speaker in regard to the London County Council. The matter should be left to the County Council and that body in this, as in other matters, would no doubt act in consultation with the borough councils. With regard to the Bill generally he had during the greater part of the debate found himself in a position of great difficulty. When he looked at the Bill it struck him as a very timid little measure, but still a small step forward. When he looked at the Amendment, he found it was correct. The Bill did nothing to lessen the hours of assistants which was the real point at issue. But even a halting step like this would have his support. The Under-Secretary's speech was a most eloquent one in favour of the Amendment. The hon. Gentleman seemed to glory in the restrictions, and he dilated at great length upon them. This was something in the nature of a wooden nutmeg scheme. The hon. Gentleman read quotations and gave an eloquent description of the present position, and then he said it was not expedient for the Government at any rate to do anything directly in the way of shortening the hours of shop assistants He did not think that was the position which the majority of this House would take at all. He hoped that something would be done to see that assistants would not be allowed to work a number of hours after the shop was shut. As a protest against the endeavour to tinker with a serious social problem he should be compelled to vote for the Amendment proposed by his right hon. friend the Member for Forest of Dean.

MR. SHACKLETON (Lancashire, Clitheroe)

said that, if the hours of shop assistants did not come within the Bill, the shop assistants were certainly not in favour of it. It had been said that the difficulty of inspection would prevent that matter being taken up. He thought the question of inspection could be settled in the same way as factory inspection was settled. It was not the number of "catches" an inspector made that was valuable, it was the knowledge that information might be given by organisations as to what was going on in certain places. There was another difficulty in connection with leaving the matter to the local authority, and that was that different hours might be enforced in contiguous places. It appeared to him that some arrangement should be made whereby a uniform number of hours for shops should be adopted for towns of a certain population. So far as London was concerned, it would be absurd to cut it up into districts. He had read a letter from Glasgow in which a shop assistant informed him that for five days a week he worked thirteen hours, and on another day he worked sixteen making a total of eighty-one. He believed that where the co-operative system prevailed the hours of assistants were better.

Question put.

The House divided—Ayes, 130; Noes, 42. (Division List, No. 130.).

Abraham, William (Rhondda) Gardner, Ernest Pretyman, Ernest George
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn) Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Anson, Sir William Reynell Goschen, Hon. George Joachim Ridley, Hon. M. W. (Stalybridge
Arkwright, John Stanhope Grant, Corrie Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)
Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O. Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Bain, Colonel James Robert Gretton, John Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Balcarres, Lord Groves, James Grimble Royds, Clement Molyneux
Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds Hall, Edward Marshall Russell, T. W.
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry Rutherford, John (Lancashire)
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Hare, Thomas Leigh Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Bignold, Arthur Haslam, Sir Alfred S. Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander
Blundell, Colonel Henry Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley) Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith Heath, James (Staffords, N. W. Seton-Karr, Sir Henry
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T. Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Bull, William James Hope, J. F.(Sheffield, Brightside Smith, H. C. (North'mb. Tyneside
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Hunt, Rowland Spear, John Ward
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse Stanley, Edward Jas.(Somerset
Cawley, Frederick Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred. Stroyan, John
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. Wore. Jones, William (Carnarvonshire Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Chapman, Edward Keswick, Wiliam Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)
Clive, Captain Percy A. Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) Thornton, Percy M.
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks., N. R.) Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.
Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham) Tuff, Charles
Dalkeith, Earl of Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Tuke, Sir John Batty
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham) Valentia, Viscount
Davenport, William Bromley Lonsdale, John Brownlee Walker, Col. William Hall
Denny, Colonel Loyd, Archie Kirkman Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.
Dickson, Charles Scott Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Webb, Colonel William George
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E (Taunton
Duke, Henry Edward M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire) Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Majendie, James A. H. Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart Martin, Richard Biddulph Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton Molesworth, Sir Lewis Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r Mount, William Arthur Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.)
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath
Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Muntz, Sir Philip A. Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Murray, Rt. Hon A G. (Bute Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Fisher, William Hayes Parkes, Ebenezer Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose Paulton, James Mellor
Flannery, Sir Fortescue Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir
Forster, Henry William Percy, Earl Alexander Acland-Hood
Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.) Platt-Higgins, Frederick and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.
Galloway, William Johnson Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Ainsworth, John Stirling Kearley, Hudson E. Shipman, Dr. John G.
Allen, Charles P. Leigh, Sir Joseph Sullivan, Donal
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Levy, Maurice Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Brigs, John Lough, Thomas Tomkinson, James
Burns, John Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Toulmin, George
Caldwell, James MacVeagh, Jeremiah Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Cremer, William Randal Markham, Arthur Basil Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Cullinan, J. Nussey, Thomas Willans White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Dalziel, James Henry O'Malley, William Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh. Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion) Yoxall, James Henry
Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Robson, William Snowdon
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir
Harwood, George Schwann, Charles E. Charles Dilke and Captain
Holland, Sir William Henry Shackleton, David James Norton.
Horniman, Frederick John Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)
Johnson, John (Gateshead) Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be committed to the Standing Committee on Trade, etc."—(Mr. Cochrane.)


said the Aliens Bill was to be sent to the Standing Committee on Trade, and it was undesirable that this Bill should go to the same Committee, as it might be in the way of the other.

MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)

moved that this Bill be sent to the Standing Committee on Law.

MR. EUGENE WASON (Clackmannan and Kinross)

seconded the Amendment.

Amendment proposed— To leave out the words 'Trade, etc.,' and insert the words 'Law, etc'—(Mr. Dalziel)—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words 'Trade, etc.' stand part of the Question.'"


supported the proposal to send the Bill to the Committee on Trade, remarking that it was essentially one that should be considered by that Committee.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 129; Noes, 37. (Division List No. 131.)

Abraham, William (Rhondda) Forster, Henry William Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Foster, Philip S.(Warwick, S. W. Muntz, Sir Philip A.
Anson, Sir William Reynell Galloway, William Johnson Murray, Rt. Hn A. Graham (Bute)
Arkwright, John Stanhope Gardner, Ernest Parkes, Ebenezer
Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O. Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn) Paulton, James Mellor
Bain, Colonel James Robert Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Percy, Earl
Balcarres, Lord Gretton, John Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W. (Leeds Groves, James Grimble Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Hall, Edward Marshall Pretyman, Ernest George
Bignold, Arthur Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'oderry Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Blundell, Colonel Henry Hare, Thomas Leigh Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith Hay, Hon. Claude George Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Heath Arthur Howard (Hanley Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Bull, William James Heath, James (Staffords, N. W. Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.
Burns, John Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T. Royds, Clement Molyneux
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside Russell, T. W.
Cavendish, V.C. W. (Derbyshire Hunt, Rowland Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn J. A. (Worc. Jobb, Sir Richard Claverhouse Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander
Chapman, Edward Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred Samuel, Herbert L.-(Cleveland)
Clive, Captain Percy A. Jones, William (Carnarvonsh. Seton-Karr, Sir Henry
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Keswick, William Shackleton, David James
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow) Shipman, Dr. John G.
Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Dalkeith, Earl of Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks, N. R.) Smith, H. C. (North'mb, Tineside
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham) Spear, John Ward
Davenport, William Bromley Leigh, Sir Joseph Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)
Denny, Colonel Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Stroyan, John
Dickson, Charles Scott Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham) Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers Lonsdale, John Brownlee Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.
Durning, Lawrence, Sir Edwin Loyd, Archie Kirkman Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)
Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)
Fergusson, Rt. Hn Sir J. (Manc'r M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire) Thornton, Percy M.
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Majendie, James A. H. Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.
Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Martin, Richard Biddulph Tuff, Charles
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Molesworth, Sir Lewis
Fisher, William Hayes Morgan, David J. (Walthamst'w Tuke, Sir John Batty
Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Morpeth, Viscount Valentia, Viscount
Flannery, Sir Fortescue Mount, William Arthur Walker, Col. William Hall
Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H. Wilson, A. Stanley (York E. R.) Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Webb, Col. William George Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taunton Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.
Whitmore, Charles Algernon Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)
Williams, Osmond (Merioneth) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart
Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset) Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Ainsworth, John Stirling Harwood, George Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)
Allen, Charles P. Horniman, Frederick John Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Johnson, John (Gateshead) Sullivan, Donal
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Kearley, Hudson E. Tomkinson, James
Brigg, John Levy, Maurice Toulmin, George
Caldwell, James Lough, Thomas Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Cawley, Frederick MacVeagh, Jeremiah White, Luke (York. E. R.)
Cremer, William Randal Markham, Arthur Basil Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Cullinan, J. Norton, Capt. Cecil William Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Huddersf'd)
Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh. O'Malley, William
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Dalziel and Mr. Eugene Wason.
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J. Robson, William Snowdon
Grant, Corrie Schwann, Charles E.

Main Question put, and agreed to. Bill committed to the Standing Committee on Trade, etc.